Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dead End at Faislabad…

Surely that’s how everyone must have felt watching the final day of the second test match. But I don’t agree with everyone that it was Lahore Part II. Did we not get some action on Day 3 Session 2 and what about the last day when Pakistan suddenly collapsed to 490 all out? Not enough you say? Well we have been used to such wonderful cricket produced in the last decade that it is but natural that this is one is proving to be a dampener of sorts.

I don’t want to sound too critical but the fact is that the test series touted to better the Ashes rivalry in modern day cricket has so far been plain boring. I never thought that I would say this about India-Pak matches. It feels like we are back in the 80s where India-Pak matches always ended in boring draws, as loss by either side was not acceptable in their respective countries. I thought the picture had changed in the late 90s what with we playing Pak almost every year. The 2004 series and the 2005 series proved that the teams were playing to win. So what changed this time?

How could Pakistan who were riding high on confidence post their bashing of England, get into such a defensive mode? India’s batting line-up is superior no doubt, especially in the sub-continent conditions; but it seems their bowling which is strictly decent seemed to scare the Pakis off. You need to take some calculated risks to win. No risk no return. You can never win a match by batting your way out; who will take the opponent’s wickets?

I thought that Pakistan would make the match a wee bit interesting by giving India a target of 300 to chase at 6 per over; but it seems they are too wary of losing and also of this Indian batting line-up. In fact, I was hoping Rahul would declare some 50 runs short of Pak’s total, have a go at the Pak batsmen, as they were short two batsmen. Neither of the two scenarios happened. There was absolutely no hope for some excitement or to see something innovative!

The nature of these pitches is killing the spirit of test match cricket. To make things worse what we saw on the final day was cruel mockery of this wonderful game. Oh it broke my heart! It was meant to amuse the spectators, bring in some excitement. Was that the idea? Sorry folks that didn’t not go down well with us. Dhoni and Yuvraj bowling with the new ball and later Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi! Please don’t put us through this after the 4 ‘exciting’ days of batting. As I have said before this series refuses to acknowledge that bowlers need a fair game too and I’m not surprised that Shoaib refused to bowl when India stepped out to bat again. Why should he waste his energy in an inconsequential match?

I’d rather have a nail-biting draw where one team is fighting to win the game and the other is fighting even harder to save the match. That kind of a draw is worth savoring. Remember the current Ashes series match 3?

The nature of the pitch is what makes this game interesting. There in comes your skill as a bowler and as a batsman to tackle the variances of the pitch. What would be left in the game if all countries produced the same kind of wickets? Cricket would lose its charm. The most important thing though is that the pitches must give bowlers and batsman a fair chance, prepare a sporting wicket is all we ask.

Allianz the main sponsor of this test series has an advertisement for its insurance products that says will you prepare a fair pitch or not. Take the right decisions in life. What an irony that the PCB does not seem have to have taken any clue from its main sponsor!

Do you think Dravid will rank his two hundreds in this series among his greatest ones? He would rather be pleased with his 27 on a fiery pitch in Durban 1996 or his 148 on a seaming Headingley wicket in 2002. Come on, give the batsman also something to savor about. Even he knows a rank local batsman would have a got a hundred on this kind of pitch and which is why my next target of criticism is the Master Blaster himself!

How could he, oh how could he walk away? First of all how could he not play Akhtar well on this kind of wicket? Agreed he was bowling a fiery spell, but there was nothing in the pitch to get ruffled up. Tendulkar, who has scored hundreds on greener faster tracks, ought to have handled Shoaib well here. The situation demanded it. India needed him to stay on with Dhoni and get some runs; instead he got out for 14! Ughhh it was so damn frustrating and later we see he was technically not out. What did he achieve by his generous attitude? Nothing! This is precisely why I don’t agree to batsmen walking off on their own! There is an umpire there, let him do his job; don’t try to do his job, why don’t you do your job of batting!

Dhoni and Pathan’s counter-attack worked wonders for India what with Bhajji and Zaheer adding their own to see India past the Pakistan total which looked seemingly impossible at one point. The knocks by the lower order also supported the team’s decision to go in with 5 regular bowlers dropping Ganguly. Yes I was surprised they dropped Ganguly (How much more humiliation that man will go through no one knows! Not fair is it? ) and even more surprised that the two openers are still warming their pads in the dressing room! Atleast you could have sent Jaffer back home. Maybe he would have helped Mumbai fight out UP. What a tragic match that was for Mumbai and full Kudos to Kaif’s team. If you don’t intend to take Ganguly in the final match atleast let him enjoy playing the Ranji final!

Another disheartening aspect was the attitude of Pakistani players. Shahid Afridi, he is anyway known for his sledging ways and it is expected of him. Shoaib’s ego and tantrums are well known by now. But the two carried it a wee bit far in this game. Needless and not required. Shoaib was amazing, you bowl a goddamn beamer and don’t even apologize! Dhoni should have given him back there and then. He should not have even bothered to say at the press conference that maybe it slipped! This one surely did not seem to have slipped! The attitude showed by Shoaib is bad for cricket! Inzy take note. Ranjan Madgulle, The ICC referee will let them go with a warning and if it was any Indian player god knows how many suspensions and fines would have honored the Indian team.

On another note it’s a delight to watch Inzy bat, I even like Asif Kamal (wonder where he is) but somehow Younis Khan and Shahid afridi don’t evoke the same emotions in me! At best I think Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan are average batsmen. It’s only our team that allows them to pile up monstrous scores; and yes I know I’m being a real sadist when I tell you that it gave me endless joy to see Younis Khan not get his double centuries in both matches and falling short of it after being so tantalizingly close!

Now the entire pressure is on Karachi. On the groundsmen to come up with a sporting wicket; on Pakistan to win the series and on India to not lose the initiative it has taken. I don’t have much hope from the finale. Karachi is not the luckiest ground for India. We were never keen to play there in the first place and I don’t see things changing much in the last match of the series. Defensive attitude never helps you win a series. Attack they say is the best form of defense and it’s high time both teams realized that!

7 comments:

Prasad said...

Good one. I agree with you on most of your comments. My gut feeling is Inzy and Shahryar Khan (or whatever his name is!) ordered the dead first test pitch. They must have felt that Pak would have easy time taking 22 Indian wickets even on a batsman's pitch. Shoib's heroics in the Eng series might have fueled their thoughts. But what they saw there was a stern warning from India.Its as if our team said..'Dont mess with us'. I bet Inzy and Khan will order a cracker of a bowling wicket at Karachi. Thats the only way they can win a test with India (not that Indians mind a green top!). I think all this is under a grand scheme of things devised by Pak board and Inzy. Putting a green top in Karachi, they dream of winning this test and so winning the series. Lets say we get a bowling wicket, guess who will play well when all mere mortals find it tough, Sachin! That guy needs some challenge!

Anonymous said...

1. No point in declaring short when you are playing away. It’s a useless gamble because the goddamn pitch is batting friendly (sorry bowler murderer may be a better choice). If Pak piles up runs and puts pressure on India, you will rue of declaring short. No one will come up and defend him.
2. By giving Dhoni and Yuvi new ball he was dissing the pitch.
3. I will give Sachin an element of doubt as that thing happened at 93 MPH. Ball grazed something was apparent.
4. Who cares about Shahid Afridi or Shoaib's sledging. They got the answer back by looking at the scoreboard. If I am not wrong I heard on the stumps mike, Shoaib saying to Pathan "Ga*** mar dunga tumhari". Check if it’s right.
5. Well I differ on Younis Khan. I think he is a decent batsman and he has shown a lot of character playing these innings. I liked his captaincy better than Inzi. He was trying to make something happen. Not like lethargic Inzi who will rely on bowlers to make something happen.
6. Totally impressed by Kaneria. He was immaculate in line and length and superb control. Not easy bowling more than 1/3rd of overs of an innings on this dead track.
7. Ask stupid Bhajji to flight the ball. He gets hit and starts bowling fast. He needs serious coaching in that. Also Anil was totally frustrated and it showed from his bowling. I hope he makes 500 at Karachi.
8. My prediction at Karachi. The wicket is going to be a dust bowl with bowl turning square on 4th and 5th day because of the latest news of Shoaib might be being ruled out of the third test
http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/pakvind/content/story/234608.html

Anonymous said...

That anonymous is me Ketan

venkyy said...

hmmmm karachi it is...

yes i do think it would differ from these two pitches. it has to. whether it would turn square im not soo sure...i dnt think theyr gng to play to our strengths...

sachin! well...u cnt b harsh on him for getting jst 14. i think he handled thebowlers pretty well until tht ball. a glove down the leg side is something tht happens to the best of them.nothing u can do about it. and ya at 93 mph, u cnt really tell whats happening...he'll come good in the next test...

what i miss most is star sports and ESPN!!! remember "a few good men" a.k.a harsha bhogle, ravi shastri, goeffrey boycott, sunil gavaskar, navjot siddhu... now tht is commentary. these idiots are like radio commentators, stating the obvious...waqar and ramizz??? puke puke!

when will DD be ousted???!!!

Tugga said...

I don't want to be a jerk, but " bigger than the Ashes", eh Minu?:-)

venkyy said...

well this pitch is defi no turner. its a 3 day pitch, especially with the kind of swing batting expertise on both sides ;)

Minal said...

@Prasad: Agreed Sachin loves a challenge. But was this not a golden chance?

@Ketan: Phew! What a comment:-) Kaneria is impressive no doubt! Liked Akmal more especially after his knock yesterday, and by looks of it it coudl well turn the match in Pak's favour! If it eases into a batting pitch like it did in 1989 we are in some trouble:-)

@Tugga: I won't even try to convince you! I'm not going to break my head against the wall;-)

@Venkky: Boy you guys are defending him! Hmmm I'll still be a little harsh on him though! Don't even talk about the commentary. I'm just glad there is Sanjay Manjrekar and Geoff boycott now to save some face!