Friday, August 5, 2011

Do we deserve it?

What happened in this test match?
From 124/8 England managed to score 221, from 264/4 India managed to lose the game. 10 minutes of madness cost India the series leveling victory and the enormous psychological advantage that’s given to the opposite team. One cannot take anything away from this England team. It was a top class effort and they fully deserved to win the match and I would say the series itself.

It is very important to gain the momentum before any innings begin. By giving the tail runs we make them confident about their bowling. Tim Bresnan did not look threatening in the first innings even though he bowled reasonably well. What happened after scoring 90 runs in the second innings is History now.

Dhoni needs to realize what important role he plays in the batting line up. After openers his is probably the most critical batting spot. He is the bridge between the top order batsman and the lower order and will have to face the second new ball most of the times.

England may have a stupendous and in form top order but it is Matt Prior who is actually killing us every game because he is making the tail bat with him. First 300 runs are not the issue when it comes to fielding. Most teams expect 300-350 runs a reasonable target to chase. It is the next 100-150 runs which kills the fielding team’s morale and give the feeling to the batsman that the game is done and they are playing for a draw not win.

It is so critical that Prior has been making the quick 50’s with the tail and deflating the batsman’s morale, this is where Dhoni is not helping the team.  His failures with the bat are showing in his glove work and captaincy.

Below is the wagon wheel of Ian Bell from the second innings of the test match. He scored more boundaries behind square than in front of the wicket. Average expectation of a defensive field set for a well set batsman is third man, deep square leg and deep point. If Dhoni had these fielders, may be Bell would have tried to score runs in front of the wicket. With ball moving all day, may be he would have got out earlier. It was worth a try from one of the best thinking minds in the game.

It is a crime to have allowed England to score that quickly. England has scored close to 100 runs behind the wickets. We would assume that a no identity cricketer like me knows that we leaked too many runs there why did the world cup winning captain or one of the best coaches in the game did not know?

Experts of the game called India’s preparation Inadequate. Here are some quotes...

"I am a firm believer that every time you tour, you need at least two warm-up games and they absolutely could have played an extra game," Ganguly told BBC Sport.

“Indian Team was a bit 'undercooked' when they came to Lord's” – Mike Atherton

“They just turned up with entirely insufficient preparation and expected everything to be alright on the night” – Nasser Hussain

Make no mistake this Indian team has the talent to do well anywhere. The question is why they don’t perform well in the first half of the series with West Indies being the exception. It is not about practice games, getting acclimatized argument to some extent holds water. But not this sort of performance in a second test after the entire team had a decent hit in the first test.

Surely Mukund does not need 5 practice games to know he is not supposed to be driving the first ball to the boundary. I am sure Yuvi or Raina does not need 5 practice games to know he has to bend and let the bouncer go than stand up and poke them. More than anybody they know their weakness against short pitched stuff. Why do you think Dravid let’s go all the balls outside off stump and scores when the ball is in the stumps? Because he knows his strengths. 

If we need 5 practice games to get adjusted to the conditions? Why did we perform well in the Durban test match this year considering it was the second test match and they were still not acclimatized? These players come out firing when their star status is questioned. You need to hurt their ego. 

India did not even have a remote chance of winning at Lord’s because we only had 2 bowlers so the team was largely shielded away from the criticism that no team can win with one strike bowler missing. Bhajji was only filling in when the 2 bowlers were tired.

This is another major reason why we cannot win in England unless Bhajji makes a better come back in the next match. I would say for Bhajji to come back stronger he does not need a rest you need to hurt his ego, dropping him (not resting) will give him the spark to push himself and will also send a message to Amit Mishra to secure his spot when he gets his chance because team management has an open mind about the playing Eleven.

Going by the acclimatization theory of all the experts Sehwag should not play the third test match because the other players are more acclimatized to the conditions now.

When a bowler is running into bowl a ball I am positive the only thing the batsman is thinking of or looking is the ball in the bowler’s hands, it does not matter if your team is ranked Number 1 or Number 3 in the world. If a batsman does not see the ball well he gets out.

It is a team game but when you are in the pitch it is one on one (Batsman against the Bowler). It needed a personnel remark from Flintoff to make Yuvi hit those 6 sixes. It needed a Sydney test match to produce that Perth win in Australia. It needed a Centurion test match to produce a Durban win. Englishmen and their commentators in the quest of being a ruthless team have already provoked the Indian batsmen. I am sure our boys will come back and win one of the remaining test matches, but I don’t see England losing both of them though.  We might hang on to our No 1. Ranking at the end of the series, but there will always be a question mark.

Do we deserve it?

Balaji Murali

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