Daily Archives: 21 September 2007

Future of ODIs – Take two…

Mohan asked a very good question in his post titled The future of ODIs in question?. Even before that post, I’ve had conversations with friends on why T20 is better than the ODI format – something the T20 WC has highlighted. Here are my reasons why –

  • For starters, the game finishes in 3 hours bringing it much closer in duration to other popular sports in the world. If the game starts at say 6:00pm, it gives people a chance to finish work, get to the game and even get back home in an earthly hour (unless you want to celebrate your teams victory or drown the sorrows of your team’s loss at the local pub). With ODIs you pretty much loose the entire day.
  • Even though the game is played for just 3 hours, the entertainment value is pretty much the same – it is as if the whole entertainment of a ODI game is condensed into a three hour capsule.
  • It is less strenuous for the players. Two T20 games is probably the equivalent of 1 ODI game in terms of physical and mental stress. In the future, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a tour has an itinerary that consists of 3 tests, 7 T20s and just 1 ODI, rather than the usual 3 test, 5 ODI formula.
  • The gap between 2 teams is not quite as apparent in a T20 game. Zimbabwe can only dream of beating a team like Australia in a test match, whereas in T20, anything is possible. The closer contest provides a much better entertainment value.
  • As Mohan pointed out, a three hour 20 over format makes the game more marketable to places where it is currently not being played.

To answer Mohan’s question on whether the ODI format itself should be phased out, my answer is a resounding YES. It may not happen in  a year or two – but  I think it should. And for old times sake maybe play the World Cup alone… 🙂

(ICC is well aware of the threat that T20 poses to ODI games. To counter this threat current ICC regulations restrict international teams from playing more than 7 Twenty20 matches in a year and no more than 2 in one series)

-Mahesh-

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Glimpses of the future…

The current Team India at the Twenty20 World Cup offers a glimpse of a possible future for Indian cricket sans the Fab Five — Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, V. V. S. Laxman and Anil Kumble.

In the T20 World Cup, India has bowled well, fielded exceptionally well and played with self-belief and aggression. There are pointers to a potentially bright future. These are early days still, but I believe that this team is a good step in the right direction. This direction commenced with Rahul Dravid’s announcement that he, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly would make themselves unavailable for T20 selection.

This then commenced a shift in thinking at the top with the leadership reigns being handed over to M. S. Dhoni. As a leader, I think he is a good investment for the future. Gauging from his conduct on the field, he appears to have the backing of his young players. He is not a formula-captain. He reacts and changes somewhat instinctively. His decision to swap Harbhajan Singh’s end in the game against South Africa would have left him with no option but to bowl Harbhajan Singh in the last over. This could have had potentially disastrous effects. But he followed his instincts and went with it. After a costly 1st over, Harbhajan Singh proceeded to bowl 3 tight overs on the trot! Dhoni appears to have a level head on his shoulders and gauging from the post-match interviews, he is handling his appointment with aplomb… but these are still honeymoon-days!

It is quite an exciting future, in my view, particularly if we add to the mix players like S. Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma, Yo Mahesh, Praveen Kumar, Pankaj Singh, et al.

At 29 years and 247 days, Ajit Agarkar is the oldest player in Team India for the T20 World Cup.

Name | Age (years — rounded to nearest integer)
Ajit Agarkar | 30
Virender Sehwag | 29
Harbhajan Singh | 27
M. S. Dhoni | 26
Yuvraj Singh | 26
Gautam Gambhir | 26
Yusuf Pathan | 25
S. Sreesanth | 24
Joginder Sharma | 24
Irfan Pathan | 23
Robin Uthappa | 22
Dinesh Karthik | 22
R. P. Singh | 22
Rohit Sharma | 20
Piyush Chawla | 19

The average age of this side — even with Ajit Agarkar in it — is 24.33y, which is not a bad average at all!

Firstly, this team has shaved 3 years off the average age of Team India’s World Cup squad!

But more importantly, the drop in average age reflects on the fielding. With Irfan Pathan’s improvement as a fielder, there is really no one in this team that needs to be “hidden” on the field. With a proper long-term fielding-coach and a focus on fitness and intensity, the standards can only improve from here on in. All of this points to a potentially exciting future of Indian cricket. It has been most gratifying to see the self-belief in youngsters like Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Sreesanth and R. P. Singh.

— Mohan

The Subcontinentals Vs The Antipodeans

In an unlikely twist India crafted — yes “crafted” — a victory over South Africa that enabled a show down between two Subcontinental teams and two Antipodean teams. It perhaps represented the balance of cricket in these modern days. The subcontinent has the money, the crazed following and the passion while the Antipodes has the current champions.

It is strange, however, that two teams that were knocked out in the first stage of the 2007 ODI World Cup, less than six months back, are in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup!

India beat South Africa at “their own den” (in the words of Ravi Shastri) and on a pitch that was tailor-made for — and perhaps pre-ordered by — the South Africans. This was a green top that afforded bounce, seam, movement and zip. India perhaps exploited the conditions better.

The next time South Africa visit and whinge about the pitches in the Subcontinent, someone should remind them of Thursday September 20th @ Durban — the day South Africa were beaten and bundled out of the T20 World Cup.

Once again, Durban had caused an upset. Once again South Africa had been eliminated from an important tournament on the world stage at Kingsmead, Durban. Once again South Africa had choked at an important point in a major tournament.

So, the only side to not lose a single lead-up game — South Africa — bowed out of the tournament after their first loss in the T20 World Cup! Australia had lost to Zimbabwe and Pakistan. Pakistan had lost to India. India had lost to New Zealand. New Zealand had lost to South Africa. And yet, the semi-finals line-up reads Pakistan V New Zealand and Australia V India!

It was a spirited performance by young India which was dealt a double-blow in the morning: a juicy pitch and an injury-blow to Yuvraj Singh — hero of the previous game against England and middle-order anchor.

Rohit Sharma played brilliantly after India suffered a few early set-backs. The early set-backs were mainly of their own doing. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag played cautiously for a few overs. And then, Gambhir had a brain explosion. Sehwag tried a cute tickle to third man when a slip was in place. The ‘keeper pounced on the offering. Dinesh Karthik was out first ball to a flick off his leg. And Uthappa, after appearing to steady the ship was another batsman to suffer a brain explosion! The intial hard work appeared to have slipped. But then Rohit Sharma and M. S. Dhoni took India to a defendable total.

The bowlers had to deliver and they did! I thought the bowlers were the true match winners for India. In particular, R. P. Singh who had 4 for 13 from his 4 overs! R. P. Singh has grown from strength to strength since the start of this season and is a young lad with a bright future ahead of him. He is a clever bowler and has everything in his arsenal except perhaps a good slower ball.

Sreesanth was a bit erratic initially but it was good to see that he was trying hard. Although his first ball slid down leg-side for a wide and 4 byes, his intent was right. He was trying te inswinger to Herschelle Gibbs as opposed to his stock ball, the outswinger. He picked up two wickets too.

Irfan Pathan was sensational too. His in-swinger was back and one can perhaps claim that he is back to full form. The rhythm is there. He is running through the crease efficiently and the swing is there too. His pace has dipped a bit, but that can certainly be worked up over time with more match-fitness. And Harbhajan Singh, after a wayward first over that caused an end-switch, was efficient and effective too. The bowlers won the match for India in the end.

Joginder Sharma was good in patches. He bowled at least one hit-me ball every over. I am sure he will improve with every match as long as someone tells him to stop talking to Ajit Agarkar 🙂

I thought the man-of-the-match should have gone to R. P. Singh — in a game that is dominated by batsmen, such an exquisite and clinical performances should not be overlooked in my view. Having said that, Rohit Sharma was a deserving man-of-the-match. He is a young man with a bright career ahead of him in the Indian middle-order.

— Mohan