FB Group

Share the Passion

To exchange links with me, please send mail to madhusudan (dot) gr (at) gmail.com.
Session-dashboard - Tracking Test Matches as they progress.
Tracking T20 run-chases in an innovative manner - See here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

World Cup 2011 - India suffer their 1st defeat

Let us understand the situation after the match between India and South Africa at Nagpur - this was India's first defeat in the tournament (after the tie against England) in five matches but they are not still sure of a Quarter-final position! Yes, this is great for the tournament as well as for the 'revival' of ODIs. But, has the home team played as well as their pre-tournament billing? In parts. When the batting has clicked, the bowling has been average and vice versa.

After the match was finished, MS Dhoni launched criticism against the batsmen but he should have realized that whatever his batsmen had put up, his bowlers would have given those away also. What else can one explain giving runs to the likes of Botha and Peterson in the ending overs? Zaheer Khan was bowling the best he could but he was not helped by Munaf and Nehra. As Harsha Bhogle mentioned in his post-match summary, the incapability to bowl yorkers is impacting them the most. Harbhajan had one over with him but MSD decided to go with Nehra - another area where Dhoni has been very predictable (not using spinners in the end-overs and preferring to go back to the pacers irrespective of their performance). He needs to get more overs out of Yusuf Pathan, who has been decent in his spells. From the matches played so far, it looks like the priority of finishing ten over spells should be Zaheer - Yuvraj - Harbhajan - Pathan - Munaf - Nehra. The selection of the team was also not right for this pitch - Dhoni must have realized this looking at Kohli's dismissal.

Let us come to the batting then - the great start provided by the openers meant that the Indians were at an advantage very early on. Steyn and Morkel were going at more than 8 runs per over. The Proteas thought that having a packed off-side field would stifle the scoring of Viru but that is when he pulled out his strokes on the leg side. Runs were leaking all over. Once Sehwag slowed down, the Maestro took over to go faster than Sehwag at one stage.

Smith was lost and started trying his part-time spinners to slow down the scoring - even went to the extent of calling for an umpire review just to have a chat with his team. This quick thinking helped him and his team to an extent - they were able to reduce the scoring from its earlier highs. Sehwag was dismissed and though Sachin/Gambhir were getting runs, the boundaries had reduced quite a bit. Sachin was hitting the big sixes and got slowed down a little nearing his 99th century. Once the hundred was out of his way, Tendulkar and Gambhir started to show signs of aggression.

The Batting Powerplay was taken and all hell broke loose. There used to be a saying in ODI that if a team was trying to score fast and had two players at the crease for a long time, one of them would play till the end of the innings. This was definitely not on the players mind as one after the other, Sachin and Gautam hit out and left the crease. Once new batsmen came to the crease, they could not get going at the same rate thanks to the improved bowling and strangle imposed by the fielding. The PowerPlay also meant that easy singles were not on offer. Dhoni was left stranded at one end while all the other batsmen came and left the crease. Another basic tenet of ODI's - eight balls were left unused by the Indians.

The middle-order is a point of worry for Dhoni as in both matches (against England and South Africa), the top three batsmen played well only for the rest of the batting to falter away. In fact, in both these matches, the Indians could have touched the highs they scaled in the match against Bangladesh but not to be. Making Pathan play in PowerPlay might not be a good idea - whether the field comes in or not, he is capable of going out of the ground. Having other players like Yuvraj, Dhoni during PP seems the best bet. Of course, as has been mentioned by many so far, going for an approach not to lose wickets during the last PP must be the new strategy.

The Indians will surely qualify for the Quarterfinals but they must ensure in their last match against West Indies that they do not finish last to draw Australia (mostly) in the first knock-out match. How soon can they pick up and figure out a way to keep their heads during tense situations will determine the next course of their journey in this World Cup.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Post a Comment