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Sunday, May 02, 2010

T20 World Cup - India goes past the Proteans

Suresh Raina at Adelaide OvalImage via Wikipedia
MS Dhoni tried to up the ante (as though it was required in the first place) at the beginning of the match against South Africa today - resting one of his strike bowlers (Zaheer Khan) even though he know that his regular opening batsman, Gautam Gambhir was suffering from diarrhea. It was as though he was asking his team to raise their game by multiple notches as compared to the previous game against Afghanistan.

His team responded and how - Suresh Raina took it as a personal challenge and scored a century against the Proteans, who had erred by leaving out Johan Botha (who had in fact bowled better than the Indians in the similar face-off in the last T20 World Cup). Bowling short-pitched balls at the batsmen, the bowlers thought that they could make the batsmen dance to their tunes but the pitches were not as responsive as the English ones, which meant that the Indian batsmen could take their time to settle down before launching their assault.

Another good outcome of the match was the form of Yuvraj. He is slowly but surely returning back to form, auguring well for the next round. MS Dhoni once again finished well - showing that he had figured out the way to play in T20 matches (maybe not the same way as ODI matches). The IPL tryst has definitely 'cleared' his mind - probably the last-over win against Punjab XI really helped.

About the bowling, given the number of spinners he had, MSD relied on them to dry up the run-rate and the Proteans crashed. I feel that the next match will see Zaheer coming in place of Praveen Kumar.

Albie Morkel was waiting in the dressing room but the batsmen in the middle were not getting out !! In fact, I feel that Jacques Kallis is posing quite a strange problem to the team management (just like he did for RCB). His all-round value is of no doubt but he is probably choking in the middle overs needing a lot to be done for the latter batsmen. The task was done by a Robin Uthappa in IPL but who will it be for SAF in this World Cup? Unless they figure out how they tackle this 'problem', things will be a bit difficult for them.

For the Indians, they are in the next round high on confidence. They did a right thing (on hindsight obviously) by not playing the warm-up matches in the World Cup. Most probably, they will once again, like last World Cup, play West Indies, Australia and then Sri Lanka in the next round (all things being equal). With the matches now being played on a different surface, the Indians will have to learn how the pitch behaves (of course, there are couple of matches before theirs on the same ground) and then tackle the opposition accordingly. 2 pace bowlers and 3 spinners + Yusuf Pathan will be the strategy in the next few games, especially against Australia and West Indies. The Indians look hot favorites, complacency being guarded against.
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