Sunday, September 16, 2007

The architects of a thrilling India-Pakistan T20

I know I'm late with this but India's see-saw squeeking past Pakistan was a Twenty 20 was much fun to watch. It's always a pleasure to watch cricket in India particularly with Mum who can, in the space of a few seconds, get all the major Hindu gods + Zarathustra involved in the game and pulling for India. And here are the performances I enjoyed the most.

Mohammad Asif's 4-18 (the second best T20 bowling figures ever) came on a pitch that afforded sharp lateral movement off the seam, but it was still noteworthy. Early on Asif tried to get cute and was hammered by Robin Uthappa and he immediately sensed that variation was not necessary. He kept banging it in and let the ball do the rest. Coupled with his accuracy this tactic entirely undid India.

While the rest of the Indian batsmen stumbled while figuring out how to counter the seaming delivery, Robin Uthappa delivered a muscular, entertaining innings. He kept it simple: reading the pitch of the ball early and freeing his shoulders after getting in line. Because he was able to pick the line and length so well, he looked assured and dominant.

On paper, the Indian seamers - RP Singh and Sreesanth - might have started well, but not for a minute did I believe they were bowling well. Lacking discipline, they were rescued by the occasional Pakistani self-destruct behavior from the batsmen (Kamran Akmal's nightmarish run-out was the turning point of the game for me so good did he look). The bowler who turned it around for India was Irfan Pathan. (In the interests of full disclosure, I'm passionately biased towards anyone from Vadodara). Looking a touch haggard and constantly in what looked like some conversation with the uperwala (Pathan's father was a muezzin in the old city), Pathan rediscovered that wicked indipper and turned in a smart performance that pegged Pakistan back significantly.

When Shahid Afridi left the pavilion, Pakistan needed 34 to win off 15 balls and the game had swung India's way decisively. But Misbah-ul-haq, batting sedately at the other end, had different ideas. All of a sudden he unleashed a string of gorgeous T20 shots and brought Pakistan to the brink of their first World Cup conquest over their neighbors.

And finally, you have to acknowledge MS Dhoni's role in all of this. Forget his reined-in batting under pressure - in which he looked entirely unconvincing. Under his newly minted leadership, he brought a much needed sense of fun and freedom to the entire team. This was very evident in the passage leading up to the tiebreaker where the Pakistan team looked edgy while the Indians smiled and stayed loose. And before Misbah unleashed his corker, Dhoni's field placements were near perfect.

Well done, new captain - thanks for proving me wrong!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice work Aspi , but " Gayi Bhense paani mein " today ( agaist NZ ) :(

Manish said...

The interesting bit were the bowl-outs. Venky Prasad had the guys practising for the bowl outs right from the England tour. Venky picked bowlers who had the best track record in practice -each one who had a straight bowling action. That's why he had Sehwag, Harbhajan and Uthappa bowling here. The best, according to MSD was Rohit Sharma who has a nearly 100% track record, but he wans't in the playing XI.

Not surprisingly, Pakistanis were not even aware that a bowlout was part of the rules.

So you gave up on SRGMP to watch a cricket match - chee chee

Aspi said...

Since the match had two interruptions, I was able to watch a bit of SRGMP. But otherwise the priorities are pretty clear (I know Saritha will kick my ass for saying this): Cricket -> SRGMP -> II -> VoI.

Saritha said...

"Oh!I wish Himesh is kicked out of SRGMP along with Aneek leaving very few people to watch a sober and decent show;II is almost over and atlast, VoI will truimph as the best musical show ever.HA HA HA....."

How I wish my wicked witch plan materializes.Heavy Sigh.

Aspi,you can atleast put VoI before II,come on.

On lighter note,
guys,I wondered what was that whole Penalty Shootout stuff on Cricket(OK Iam not big fan..ok ok here's the truth-I know nothing abt cricket)
I wondered why the wicket keeper was standing behind the wickets and not in front of them,just like in Football or Hockey.He could have stopped the ball easily.lol.

And Manish,for once you've got the wrong info.The guy who has 100% track record is not Rohit Sharma but Iqbal.chk that.

Manish said...

Saritha, I think you should be nominated to the International Cricket Council. BTW, nobody wants to take the Indian cricket captain's (or the coach's) job. Interested?