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Saved by the bell

February 11, 2008

India’s first win in over two decades against Australia at the MCG took a superlative bowling effort that bowled out the hosts for their fourth-lowest first innings total at home. While it is being touted as a stirring performance by the Indian attack, it was really the performance of young Ishant Sharma supported by some steady bowling combined with a couple of fortunate decisions that set up the win. The seemingly comfortable margin of victory has served to inject life into the CB series and if Sri Lanka beat India at Canberra on the 12th, it will throw the series wide open. From Australia’s perspective, they will a tad concerned about the batting capitulation but a closer look will indicate that a more solid start from the openers will go a long way towards correcting the problem.

Some points to ponder after the game:

  1. India’s batting frailty: The absence of some of the old hands and the indifferent form of some others means that the Indian batting order looks more fragile than it has anytime since the late 90’s. A look at the teamsheet shows only three batsmen (Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh) who have anchored innings in the past on a regular basis. Of these, the latter two are in indifferent form leaving Sachin Tendulkar in the familiar position of being required to be the bulwark of the innings. The difference from the early years however is the presence of some quick-scoring batsmen who can push the rate along thus eliminating the pressure of pushing the runrate along.
  2. The untested core: Following on from #1, Gambhir, Rohit Sharma and Uthappa who form the middle order have little or no experience of playing in salvage situations post top-order collapses. Yuvraj, while having significant experience, is battling his own form slump. This could prove decisive in must-win situations later in the series where the workman-like technique of Dhoni and Pathan won’t always be able to bail the team out.
  3. No witchhunt for rogue umpires: When one of the best batsmen on your team gets a bad decision that is not even marginal and the best in the opposition gets a reprieve, it is safe to say that the umpiring had an impact on the game. However, Ponting’s post-match interview made barely a reference to them that too on being specifically asked by the interviewer. While the ridiculously partisan coverage for the subcontinent continues, Ponting and his team will work out the factors under their control for the next game.
  4. Nothing tests like test cricket: If the Aussie defense of the subpar total was valiant, it was encumbered by the artificial restrictions posed by One-day cricket on captains to limit the usage of their best bowlers. Each Brett Lee delivery was counted down by the Indian batsmen knowing that he had only 60 legal deliveries to unleash (hence the title of the post). I say artificial because it is apart from the first 12 odd overs, not about the best bowler versus batsman. If the quota on overs is to ensure that teams with more balanced bowling attacks perform better, why not the same rule for the batsman? Of course, that would be akin to tying the hands of both boxers in a ring behind their backs. Maybe a solution would be give to let a fielding captain extend spells for two of their bowlers by a couple of overs each if the batsmen let go of more than a certain number of deliveries.

India will hope that papering over the cracks will be enough to win against Sri Lanka in Canberra but going by the slow nature of the track in the practice game, the surface will be more suitable to Sri Lanka’s slow bowlers than India’s attack.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2008 11:22 pm

    Your analysis is right on. Today’s loss to Sri Lanka just points to our many deficiencies.

  2. February 13, 2008 9:52 am

    Thanks mate. Checked out your blog, some pretty indepth coverage on the IPL. Great work!

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