Vantage point

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Belated Post

This is a belated post about Sunday's Asia Cup final.

Of late, I have been getting the feeling that Tendulkar has forgotten the art of marshalling a tough chase.

Opinions in the Indian cricket-following community....i.e in India, :), are polarised about this issue. One half feels that Tendulkar is a choker, he can't finish matches off, and all that. There is another half which feels that the team does not support him when he plays well, and that an opener can't be expected to be a finisher in high chases.

I think both camps are guilty of generalisations. However, one clearly noticeable trend in the recent past has been Tendulkar's inability to marshall chases. Here I am not measuring the ability in terms of wins and losses, but just the way he manages the innings. For instance, Tendulkar's innings in the second ODI in Pakistan, is an excellent example of marshalling a chase well. That however, stands as the only such example in the last two years or so.

Whether he has cut down a lot on his shots, or whether his hand-eye-co-ord isn't the same, or whether the opposition have finally sorted his batting out, the simple fact is, his game lacks that consistently authoritative touch that it had in the late 90s. Nowadays he finds it tougher than ever to pick up boundaries, as well as singles.

Most of the times, with the exception of the aforementioned Pindi ODI, he goes either too fast early on and perishes, or he takes it easy until too late and perishes.

Remember how he marshalled chases in the past? He was in charge of the whole situation, pushing his partners, dictating the strike, and picking his spots. Nowadays, he bats without an eye on the run rate.

Hence most of our victories, while chasing a target of 250-odd or above, have come when Dravid was guiding the chase. I'm sure a statistical analysis will prove the point.

Anyway, moving on, something that has been bugging me.

I do not like this batting order. If Laxman is not going to bat at three, then he is being wasted. He's the guy who, once he gets his eye in, is impossible to dislodge. What the hell was he doing coming so late down the order? If it was a one-off thing because of his injury, then fine, but hope Ganguly does not persist.

My ideal batting order is -


And one more change I would suggest is, that suppose the fourth wicket falls early, say in the 25-35 over range, then it would be better to promote Kaif. Almost all of Kaif's successful innings have come when he has come in early, be it the Natwest Trophy, The Champions Trophy Zimbabwe match, the World Cup Pakistan match, or the 4th ODI in Pakistan. Post-35, he does not have it in him to just start belting from the word go. Yuvraj on the other hand, gets going from the first ball.

Ganguly coming in before the fifteen overs means that he is exposing himself to pace bowlers. Why? Let laxman tackle them. Ganguly is at his best attacking spinners after the 15th over.

I hope the Indian team sorts all these issues out before the Holland outing.

I am just waiting for these pyjama-parties to end, and for the real stuff to begin. The test matches in october. :)