Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Videocon Cup: Final

Middle of the week, we talk about cricket!

Right before the start of this tournament a small controversy was born out of the comment of Greg Chappel. He said, "Ratings don't lie". Some of the players, reportedly, felt insulted as the Indian cricket team is rated above only the minnows in ODIs. Now, as the dust settles at the Harare Sports Club, in the hindsight the comment looks dead right. India, with all the heroes on paper, once again buckled under the pressure of a final. The professional approach of the New Zealanders took the match away from India as if it was as easy as snatching candy from a kid. Indians did nothing if not helped them achieve the target; they dropped catches, misfielded, and made a mess with the bowling options.

With the kind of pitch, known for supporting batsmen, it was natural for winning captain to bat first. So did Ganguly, but what beats me is the choice of super sub. The team decided to keep Harbhajan Singh as super sub when they could've kept him in the batting 11 and kept Nehra out. Nehra, who after aeons in international cricket, still refuses to understand the basics of holding a bat straight, made a big fool of himself in the end. Harbhajan Singh, though is not highly skilled with the wood, can swing the willow for a few. This might not have mattered much in the end, but it shows how poorly the think tank of the team did.

Ganguly, who is nowadays just a caricature of his glorious past, played some reckless shots, only after surviving many scares on Bond's bowling. But we must applaud the positive approach in his game, he doesn't hold back from pulling or hooking even in these times of horrible form, what if those shots take his wicket most of the times. Perhaps, it can help Dada to step down the batting order. He is, atleast used to be (lately we haven't had him stay that long), very good against the slower bowlers and it can do his confidence a lot of good to spend some time at the crease. I can't understand why he must stay as captain though. For me, it's uber important to get a place in the team first. With his horrendous run with the bat, I doubt if he'll be picked even for the Bengal Ranji Team. Moreover, replacing Dravid abruptly from the captain's post, seems to have done a lot of harm to his confidence. "The Wall" has shown all kinds of cracks oflate. He is getting out in most unusual manners for a player with his kind of technique and skills. The problem is clearly with his mindset. It's not very tough to get demoralized in such a course of events. The bottomline: Dravid's out of form and India payed for it.

As long as Sehwag was at the crease, the runs were flowing thick and fast. But after he departed, the slower bowlers dried up the runs. In the middle overs, when the singles are most important to keep it ticking, runs were hard to find. This pressure led to the dismissal of Yuvraj & Venugopal. It was the loss of momentum in this crucial period that left India about 20-30 runs short. Again, the incapability of Kaif to hit the big ones in the dying moments pinched India. Unfortunately, the big hitters couldn't do much. Special kudos to NZ since they fielded exceptionally well and held fast to some cruicial catches. Even after all the failures, 276 was a big total.

New Zealanders were off to a boombastic start. It's tough to contain the batsmen once they gain this kind of torrential momentum. But I think the Indian captain missed a trick or two by not introducing the slower bowlers early. A lesson was there to be learnt from the Indian inning, where Yuvraj and Kaif faltered against some quality slow bowling in 30's. The gound fielding and catching standards were abysmal! Even when NZ needed something in the order of 70, the Indian fielding was in the defensive mode. No one can save a match by stopping runs when the opponents need just run a ball! The initiative was to be taken and an aggressive field must have been introduced. Nothing but some quick wickets could have saved the match. Eventually, the better team took the bow as winners.

If we compare the players one on one, I'm sure Indian team will come on top of New Zealanders. But the matches are not won by individuals, they are to be won by a team. New Zealand has perhaps the most balanced side in present ODI scene. They might not have the Dravids and Yuvrajs but they make up for this by combined effort. India on the other hand, fails to provide any sense of dependability & consistency to the fans. Even when they win, it takes extraordinary efforts from an individual, never does the team play well as a unit. If this slacky attitude is going to stay, no power in heaven or in hell can raise India from the 7th position in ODI ratings. And they better accept this damned thing soon!


Jeet said...

good hai ji... main cricket nahin dekhta.. last time match vivek ke enthu ke karan dekha tha :D abhi tumhare yahan se updates milte rahenge.. :)

Vivek Kumar said...

Sahi hai! Well written, and you are off to a good start (just like Indian cricket team) to the column-writing thing!

Hope you get a deal soon..

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