Vantage point

Monday, July 26, 2004

Nahi nahi, tum lo, tumhara birthday hai....

... that is what India and Pakistan seemed to be saying to each other during the match yesterday.

India, deservedly, lost the match. Most players seem to be under the impression that they are playing practice matches. The only two exceptions are Rahul Dravid and Irfan pathan, who seem to have struck mid-season form pretty early. Pakistan themselves won only because India played worse than them.

Here are a few examples of largesse from either side -

- Indians returning to their butter-fingered days, with more fumbles in the field than an unsure teenager making out. We easily gave away 50-60 extra runs. Which was heartbreaking, considering that Pathan, Harbhajan, Kumble, Nehra and Tendulkar, all bowled very well. With normal fielding, we could have kept them down to 250-odd.
- All Pakistani batsmen except for Shoaib Malik assuming that someone else would make a huge score and out-bat the Indians. It is a crying shame that despite a brilliant 127-ball-143 by Malik, and a generous dose of extras and fumbles, the rest of the Pakistani team managed only 120 odd runs from 180 balls. On the foundation of such an inning they should have easily reached 330-340, and pushed for 360.
- Sachin tendulkar playing and unexplicably slow inning. Granted that he needed to stay there while wickets were falling at the other end, but still his strike rate was abysmal. This, even while his feet were moving well, and most of his drives were coming off well. he wasn't taking too many singles either. It seemed to me like he gave up the chase too early, and chose instead to go for the bonus point. But having made that choice, he played a baffling shot that resulted in his dismissal.
- Pakistan's casual approach after sachin's dismissal makes me suspect that they probably weren't aware of the bonus point concept. Kinda reminded me of South Africa throwing it away against Sri lanka in the 2003 World Cup. Even as the Pakistani coach cribs about the points system, he should ponder at the difference in the Pakistanis' body language in the last few overs. Shoaib bowling with a tiny run-up, Moin missing two simple run-outs, and in general, a laidback attitude from everyone.

This was a match where one saw more bad cricket than good. The worse team lost, rather than the best team winning.

After many years, India find themselves in a do-or-die scenario, where they have to win the last match to reach the finals. To do that, methinks the following must happen -

- Tendulkar should realise that his feet are moving, and he is no more in bad form. If in bad form he could make a 130-ball-140 in the 2nd ODI in Pakistan, he is the King of the one-day game. he is just acting like a King with amnesia.
- Sehwag needs to click.
- Ganguly should remember that a season back, he was finding it tough to get into double figures. Now that he is getting starts, he should make them count.
- Dravid, Yuvraj, Pathan and Kaif need to maintain the level of their game.
- Our tail is not good enough to play 5 bowlers. Balaji needs to be dropped in favour of Patel. Tendulkar can easily bowl 10 overs. Plus Yuvraj and Sehwag can chip in too.

Despite the shockingly unprofessional display at the RPS yesterday, i still back India to win the Asia Cup. they just need to start playing like the Indian team of the last season.