Wednesday, July 2, 2008

India V Pakistan - Asia Cup

The first half of the match was replete with twists and turns as you would expect in a typical India Pakistan encounter. Though India would be content with 308, deep down they would admit that they would have got a bit more. Although we've seen India chase down 300 with careless ease, it could not all be very easy for Pakistan because India's bowling attack is strong as compared to the Pakistan's. Pakistan would require some stellar performance in the Powerplays which hasn't happened so far. They have seemed reluctant to go over the top in the initial overs and have adopted the conventional method of 'building up the innings'. But, when you intend to chase more than 300 on a flat track you need to be a bit more than inventive.

India on the other hand won the toss and came out all guns blazing thanks to Sehwag and Gambhir. When Pakistanis bowled short, Sehwag pulled, when they were up, Sehwag drove, when they were touch short, Sehwag cut. Sohail Tanvir, the now 'spearhead' of the Pakistani attack was made to look like a 7th grader as he helplessly conceeded 43 off his first 4 overs. India raced off to 86 in the first ten overs, with Sehwag escaping a sure shot LBW shout. Two balls later, Ifthikar Rao picked Gambhir as he tried to clear the infield but got hold by Afridi instead. Then, Indians lost the Raina, Sehwag in the space of 9 balls and were reduced to 91/3. Yuvraj hit some lusty blows but even he failed to capitalise and fell when he just looked set for a big one. In came Rohit Sharma, who has not been in particularly good form during the series and one could sense some nerves early on. But, then he eased in the company of Dhoni and singles started flowing. Now, Misbah(the stand in captain for Shoaib Mailk) operated both the spinners in tandem. Afridi with the debutant Ajmal. He was very impressive with his doosras which Dhoni failed to pick up repeatedly. The pressure was clearly on Indians as they needed a substantial partnership otherwise they would have been bundled shortly. They started pushing the ball around and this is where the pakistanis erred. They let the Indians take the singles and there was on pressure being applied on them. Misbah should have brought the fielders and should have made the Indians work for runs. However, he was content with 4-5 singles being taken in an over. What he did not know that the two players were laying a solid foundation for a big total. Dhoni and Rohit must be applauded for sewing a partnership which brought back India back in game. They demonstrated an icy cool head and never panicked during their course of innings. India was sitting pretty at 231/4 at the end of 40 overs. From here on, India was expected to cross the 320 mark, but soon thereafter, Rohit and Y.Pathan fell much against the run of play and a mini-rebuilding had to be done. But, Pathan hit some clean shots to help the team post 308 on the board. However, one might never know what is enough on this dead track but given the attack India has Pakistan would have to play really well.

Now, from Pakistan's point of view it is imperative that dominate from the word go. And no one can do it better than Shahid Afridi. I think he should open the batting today and play a blitzkrieg of sorts. His attack up-front can really destabilise the Indian attack and he has done that in the past. Because, if Pakistani team has to entertain any thoughts of going near the Indian team, they should attack right from the word go. And for that Afridi has to open. Their middle order is really experienced and are real thoroughbreds when it comes to chasing. They know they need to put 309 on board if they have to stay alive in the compeition. They will go for the kill. While, India will like to win this one and seal a place in the final. They have posted a good score, but, the job is still half done. It is for sure going to be an intriguing battle. Fasten your seat belts.

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