Friday, March 09, 2007

Why India's young guns were impressive today

You wouldn’t be out of place to say that India’s tight pace bowling performance at the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium in Greenfield, Jamaica allowed them to trash the hosts soundly in the World Cup 2007 warm up game today. But the most impressive aspect of the Indian performance for me was the batting. And it was the execution that made one feel that the line-up is addressing this all-important tournament with a sense of purpose and resolve. Its timely too – India has been let down by its batting more often lately than its bowling.

On a wicket that played true but with bounce for those willing to bend their back, West Indies disintegrated around a loose batting performance. Even Pathan’s inconsistent spell was richly rewarded as wickets tumbled in a total of 85.

A Precarious Beginning
When India batted they bid goodbye to Sehwag off the eighth ball of the innings – a nothing shot that would have raised the hackles of Indian fans everywhere. And then Daren Powell charged in to deliver a memorable spell in which he consistently looked like sending someone back in a hurry. Bowling at around 85 mph, Powell asked questions outside the off stump that Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa often had no answers to, but somehow he was unable to inflict further damage. It wasn’t exactly a delicate situation, but certainly a testing one.

The really impressive bit was how both the young Indian players, entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the game home, judged the wicket and tailored their game.

Responsible Adjustments
Early on, Uthappa played a cover drive for four that looked exquisite but surely must have given the batsman pause. The ball had more bounce off a good length than merited by the selection of the shot. And Uthappa seemed to instantly learn the lesson, continuing to play on the front foot but playing as straight as possible.

At the other end, a slightly more fidgety Dinesh Karthik responded with an artisan-like innings – groping sometimes outside the off stump but not allowing it to disturb his focus. Unlike the rest of the Indian batsmen, who prefer to hit the big shots, both used nudges and flicks as their bread and butter. There were only seven boundaries in India’s total – a reflection of how well tempered the run chase was.

And because it came from two of India’s newest hopefuls, it is worth hailing.

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