After a well-crafted win, India still in with a chance…

India crafted a victory today and kept her hopes alive of a semi-finals berth in the T20 World Cup.

India were spurred by a brilliant 58 off just 16 balls in 14 minutes of brilliance by the dashing Yuvraj Singh. In the process, Yuvraj Singh hit Chris Broad out of the park for 6 sixes in the 19th over of the match — the first time that this feat has been achieved in T20 matches. In the process, Yuvraj Singh also made the fastest T20 half-century — off just 12 balls! From memory, his half century had six 6s, three 4s, two 1s and one dot ball!

By winning this match handsomely, India kept alive her chances of a semi-finals berth. All they need to do is to beat South Africa. I believe they have the run rate issue solved as a result of this win against New Zealand.

Even three dropped catches — two off the bowling of the hapless Joginder Sharma and one off the bowling of Sree Santh — did not help England’s pursuit of 218 runs. Yuvraj Singh missed a sitter at point. R. P. Singh slipped as he went for a catch at 3rd Man. Joginder Sharma dived at square leg behind the umpire — and was perhaps unsighted by the umpire — and dropped another easy catch to make up the drops. But the team also fielded and caught well. They bowled well in patches to deny England a victory. Harbhajan Singh’s catch on the boundary ropes was sensational — perhaps even the catch of the tournament so far!

India went in with Jogidnder Sharma instead of Ajit Agarkar. This was a good move. Despite the runs that he leaked, I think this was a good move. India may persist with this option for the final game against South Africa. An option well worth considering is that of Yusuf Pathan for Joginder Sharma. The older of the Pathan brothers is a thinking bowler and can give the ball one heck of a tonk. However, I think Joginder Sharma will have learnt from this experience and may get the nod in the final do-or-die game.

India also went in with Rohit Sharma instead of Dinesh Karthik,

The Indian bowlers bowled reasonably on a somewhat flat pitch. In particular, Pathan was impressive. He bowled at about 130kmph and bowled with accuracy. He also bowled a few well-disguised slower balls. Sreesanth seems to have dropped the verbals and the needless glares. He seems to be doing an Ntini in his follow-through these days. He runs through and immediately turns and sprints back in that distinctive Ntini-way! He seems to have learnt from his England experiences.

Andrew Flintoff’s verbals banter seemed to have spurred Yuvraj Singh onto his onslaught. But at the man-of-the-match award, Yuvraj Singh was all diplomacy and indicated that what was said on the field would be left on the field. This is good to see.

Finally, a word on M. S. Dhoni’s captaincy. With each outing, he continues to impress. He is not a “formula captain” who works off a set song-sheet. He was willing to move and change his bowlers around. He tried to attack early on and when nothing much happened, he switched to a clever defence ploy. He could have had a man on the mid-wicket fence. This may well happen in the next match which is at the same ground. He also bowled his best bowlers in the last 3 overs. If anything, he perhaps should have tried an over or two from Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh around the 12th over mark.

The win was, however, in my view, crafted mainly by a solid start by Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. They played sensibly and provided a sold platform for a later-overs launch. I think I need to re-assess my views on Gambhir! He is batting well and appears to have a good head on his shoulders. Sehwag, in my view, is not quite there — the ball that jags back will continue to find him. But he is playing more freely now than I have seen in some time. Moreover, he is looking fitter and meaner than ever before. Hopefully he will crack the big one soon.

A big game against South Africa coming up. Bring it on…

— Mohan

6 responses to “After a well-crafted win, India still in with a chance…

  1. I don’t think it was “crafted”. They conceded 200 in 20 overs and won only because one of their batsmen created a World Record.

    You don’t craft that sort of thing – it happens…

  2. Kartikeya,

    Silly response to your (IMHO silly) comment:

    But for Kevin Pietersen’s batting, England would have made only 161.

    I just checked the scorecard again. Yuvraj Singh did play for India in this game. And all cricketing rules indicate that it is perfectly legal to include his score in the team total even though he created a World Record 🙂

    Kevin Pietersen’s innings also just happened, just as Yuvraj Singh’s innings also just happened.

    More serious response:

    Let’s see… India won the toss and elected to bat. Only four times before in this tournament has a captain won the toss and elected to bat. Two of these four were against Zimbabwe. By chosing to bat, there was a statement of positive intent from Dhoni. He wanted to win and he wanted to put a BIG score on the board to negate the effect that net-run-rate would have. Small strokes create a painting. A craft…

    Then we had Gambhir and Sehwag who played out the initial 6 overs with not much on the board. They were under clear instructions not to lose their wickets. We then saw the 2nd highest opening partership in T20s. Small carves create a sculpture.

    There seemed to be a careful construction of the innings. At no time — apart from perhaps Uthappa’s dismissal — was there a frenetic heave or an ugly swat. There was never a panic in the batting. They seemed to have a plan. Small couplets create a song.

    Even in the bowling, the bowlers appeared to have a plan. They mixed things up more cleverly in this game than in previous games. Small takes make a movie.

    Sure they conceded 200 in 20 overs. Perhaps you’d have preferred it if England were bowled out for 38 in 3 overs! But England did not turn up to just make up the numbers! They had a team too and wanted to win! Let’s not forget that both teams played on the same pitch and under similar conditions. If anything, with more dew on the ground, the Indians had the worse of the conditions with slippery feet and a slippery ball to contend with.

    In the end, India won by 18 runs. In most books, that is by about 2 overs. In other words, the win margin was nearly 10%. These things just don’t “happen” miraculously. They are crafted.

    I am continually amazed at the Indian fans’ ability to knock their own down regularly. One day, I will understand. Then again, it is perhaps best not to!

    You have your opinions and I have mine. They are different.

  3. A good piece, as usual, Mo. Two comments though…Given that England kept up with India’s score till the famous 19th, either India’s opening partnership was not all that terrific (:)) or England’s batting was equally terrific or more likely, the Indian bowling was less than perfect. Far too many short balls. Second, given SA’s weakness against quality spin, I’d like to see Chawla play instead of J Sharma
    But great to see the young Indian team learn & improve with every outing, specialy on the captaincy front

  4. Paddy

    I think I used the adjectives “solid” and “sensible” to describe the Indian opening stand. I don’t believe it was terrific. Perhaps it didn’t need to be. The England start was, if anything, a shade better than India’s start.

    And so you are right in that the fact that England got to 200 could be attributed to some lazy bowling by India. Agarkar’s absence helped tighten things up a bit. But Joginder Sharma, in particular, provided a constant stream of balls at just-short-of-a-good-length to keep England interested and “in the hunt”. But then again, I believe that if those catches had been taken, we won’t have been having this conversation.

    I am not convinced Piyush Chawla will make a difference, especially considering the depth of the midwicket boundary line.

  5. Yuvraj seems to have a special liking to English bowling. But its going to be a totally different ball game with S.A. Got to get our act together in the bowling dept. Keeping ma fingers crossed.

  6. Not for a moment am i mocking the side. They won…

    My issue is with the format…. and with the fact that commentators are applying standards from Test and ODI cricket to Twenty20 cricket, which doesn’t allow for a contest between bat and ball which is even remotely similar to that in those longer formats. My recent posts elaborate further about this….

    “well-crafted”, “one shot too many” – and other phrases don’t stand in the case of Twenty20 cricket.

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