Friday, 29 June 2007

India has a tough job on hands

Time has arrived for some serious introspection. With hardly any worthwhile victory in the last few months, Team India takes on South Africa in a must win game. The second match of the summer series will throw further light into where this side is heading. There has been too much talk and very little action and it is time for the side to redeem itself.

The batting that has been India’s saviour on more occasions and its base strength has to look at momentum right from the word go rather than wait for too long as it happened in the first match against Kallis’ men.

Batting against South Africa after one gets his eye in is not a tough task as the attack is one-dimensional. There is not too much of variation and the biggest problem for the batsmen might come against their tight fielding. This is the area where India’s task is cut out. The running between wickets must be hard and the middle overs should be busy. Rotation of strike is of paramount importance and these areas were not concentrated upon.

A target of 243 if the fielding was a little sharper might have made things difficult for Kallis and company but Team India was found short on that account too. The only area where the Indian’s came out with their head held high was the spin bowling department.

Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar bowled with craft and assurance. They bought India back with a sustained effort and they were also largely helped by a set of batsmen who refused to use their feet. India should continue with the two slow men, whatever might be the confidence. Their confidence and rhythm should not be fiddled with.

Zaheer Khan and R.P. Singh seem to the only new ball pair Dravid has at his disposal at the moment and might be forced to continue with them. As far the changes or change in the team is concerned I can see M.S. Dhoni coming in for Gautham Gambhir. Dravid should bat at three.

The new members who have been rushed to join the team need not be rushed into the playing XI as it would be expecting to much from them straightaway, they can get acclimatized and probably play the third game. There must be a spring in the step and the ground fielding that was slack should pick itself up then India might have a good chance of making the third game worthy.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Indian's did not show enough spirit

I was curious to know what was going through Yuvraj Singh's mind when only 12 runs were required of three overs. The first ball he bowled in the 47 th over was swept by Kallis and Zaheer Khan made the most athletic of saves. Yuvraj applauded the effort and broke into an unexplainable giggle. The defeat was clear on the wall yet the Indian's did not seem to mind. Unless this side starts hating to lose it is never going to win.

The body language was negative to say the least and there was an air of 'so what' attitude especially during the business end of the South African innings. The bowling lacked the zip but the target did not offer the bowlers much scope but the intensity was clearly lacking.

Kallis played a knock that one would normally associate with him. Calm, focused and unruffled even when wickets were tumbling around him, it was a captain's knock in every sense of the word. The first two wickets adding close to 100 runs was crucial as it paved easy passage for a target that was made tricky more by the slowness of the wicket rather than any venom in the attack.

The more I see young Piyush Chawla the more I am impressed. Here is a young Turk who does not mind inviting the batsman forward. His googly needs improvement but with experience should learn the craft. These tough games should serve the UP lad well and there is a good chance he can fill into the big boots left vacant by Anil Kumble in the shorter version. Ramesh Powar continues to get better but only early wickets could have done the trick for India and sadly they were unable to do it. The last over finish was only surreal and it was not exactly a close match.

The Indian batting was once again found short of tempo. My mind raced back to a line from a well known cricket writer who said 'ban Sachin when on 90'. His knock might have been based on circumstances but having spent that amount of time he should have accelerated earlier and in hindsight it was clear that the difference between winning and losing was 20 runs.

Rahul Dravid played a typical Rahul Dravid knock, the only difference being the point of acceleration arrived a little early. I am still certain that the skipper should go in at three and continue there for some time. Gambhir does have this knack of pounding lesser attacks and coming a cropper against better sides and it only continued.

The difference also lay in the extra zip the South African seamers were able to extract out of a helpful pitch. Andrew Nel with his height and strong wrist action created the doubt in the batsmen's mind and mixed his length well, using the short ball to good effect.
In the end the superior fielding and agility carried the day carried the day for the Africans but more importantly their rock of Gibraltar was there to see it till the very end. If India were to come back from here to win the series it would be truly odd-defying.