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Sunday, March 08, 2009

India flexes its muscles that keeps the Kiwis and rain away

Denied of making use of the entire quota of 50 overs in the first 2 ODI's, the Indians scored 392 in the 3rd match to take an unbeatable lead in the series 2-0. Unbeatable because the Kiwis can only now try and equal the Indians in the remaining matches.

As Sehwag mentioned in one of the pre-match talks, if the Indian batsmen got going, they were confident of scoring 300s in every match. They managed to go almost 100 more in this match, thanks to blistering knocks by Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni. The small grounds have enabled the Indians to scale such a mammoth target, that was no match for the Kiwis inspite of the lax fielding by the Indians.

The first 2 Twenty20 matches gave the Indians enough insight to the conditions that are nowhere close to the previous tour. The first 2 matches were hampered by rain and only that could save the Kiwis from going behind much farther in the series. The punishment meted out by the Indians made the Kiwis openly talk of Sehwag as a 'fear'. This sort of statements will put more pressure on the Kiwis, as if they did not have any.

Daniel Vettori was missed more as a captain than a bowler. His ten overs would have been very handy in the conditions. His absence raises another question - why are there more instances of players going away from match duty to attend to their domestic duty. Matt Prior from the English team was another 'offender' recently. Brian Mccullum was obviously new to his role and was taken away by the Indian attack. The fact that Jacob Oram had bowled so well in his initial overs but was not called back to finish his quota. Tim Southee struggled from beginning to the end to give more than a century of runs.

Even though the Kiwis got partnerships going, the regular wickets kept pegging them back. It is normal to score 8 runs per over in the Twenty20 matches but to do that consistently for 50 overs is another world. It is a great task to sustain that scoring for a long period. The small grounds helped the Kiwis but they needed more than a boundary an over to win the match.

Was the Indian team great? They were good with the batting but not the bowling and fielding. The 3rd bowler is an area of concern - in fact, MS Dhoni should have been thanking the umpire when he took Munaf Patel off the field. Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan are the other options but it would be good if the Indians can bring in Pragyan Ojha instead. The fielding, however, needs to improve - the great attempts were interspersed with misfields (that went for boundaries) and dropped catches. Of course, the huge total helped the Indians but one thought that it probably made them complacent.

The next match should see the Indians wrap up the series, provided the rains keep away. Will Vettori's return provide the Kiwis the much-needed boost? Very unlikely.
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