22 November 2007

Pakistan in India, FSK

India clawed back to a point of ascendancy every time they looked like being put under pressure, and that is why they won the match. Laxman and Dhoni were under pressure in the first innings, but the way they batted, you'd never have known. Zaheer proved he was a world-class bowler. Very very few easy balls came from him. Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman came up with adequate performances with the bat. Adequate that is, to keep Yuvraj out. Adeqaute also, for an Indian win.

Pakistan will take heart from the continued good form and effort from Shoaib "Jesus" Akthar. Salman Butt continued, like Jaffer, to look dangerous without inflicting any irreparable damage. And what can I say about Misbah that has not already been said? Good bat, though.

Days 4 and 5: India win, Ganguly swings it, Yuvraj'll have to wait

Throughout this match, Pakistan have lost wickets exactly when they should not have. Ganguly swung the match decisively India's way, taking advantage of some across-the-line indiscretion on the second new ball. If Misbah and Sami had reproduced half their first innings exploits, India would have found the going much tougher.

KDK's second failure in the match should not bother him or the managment this early. He should play the whole series, and if he still does not find his form, the selectors might think of taking an additional opener to Australia. But I somehow have faith in that plucky little man. Jaffer proved why he is the man who could have been King. On song, there aren't too many batsmen who look better flicking and cover-driving. Over the last few matches has shown why exactly he is not King, giving it away when it was just beginning to look easier. He averages 35 after 23 matches.

Shoaib bowled brilliant. I did not believe he was capable of the long spell, but he has been a revelation. If the three ever bowl together Shoaib, Asif and Gul promise some compelling viewing.

Just when India began to look a little vulnerable chasing, Ganguly was quick to seize initiative. His strokes took the pressure off Sachin who eventually took the team home.

Day 3: The one where both teams should have done better
It wasn't great. We should have batted longer. The lead India got was just the bare minimum. Zaheer and Bhajji did not pull their weight and in the 'larger' scheme of things, another thirty runs may prove crucial. Also, after India batted to see the new ball off, Laxman was in a position to take India to a much bigger lead.

I think Munaf bowled shite. To abuse a cliche, he should have made the batsman (Salman Butt in particular) play a little more. Zaheer was good, but did not live up to the billing. Not to take anything away from him, but Butt had it a little easy, and it is my first minor problem with Kumble's captaincy. This time around, Ganguly's little spell took some pressure off.

But Kumble and Bhajji bowled well, and Younus and Mohammed Yousuf were dismissed without too muh trouble. Yousuf though, was looking well in dispatching the bad Munaf and Bhajji deliveries. Credit to Kumble for keeping the pressure up, but Pakistan should have done much better given the bowling on offer.

And then, Jaffer let Misbah go. It was a fairly simple catch and Misbah can make India pay more. Some lusty blows took Pakistan to the ascendancy, but India still has a chance to get Pakistan out for a score that can render this match one-sided.

Day 2: Misbah's brain explosion (part II), Tanvir's chamillionaire debut and India nosing ahead - just about.

Misbah should be cast as Borat's 'retard brother Bilo' in the next movie. It was the funniest dismissal in a long time, one that ended a long vigil that at the end of the second day's play looks critical in the larger scheme. Pakistan bowled well and checked the Indian ascendancy, but like India yesterday, were blunted in the third session.

India look good to score at least another fifty runs. Anil Kumble's last Test innings was a hundred and VVS Laxman was stroking the ball well. Also, Bhajji and Zaheer are not complete mugs with the bat, even though they have been known to behave like that on occasion.

Laxman ran very well with Dhoni who walked in and where some (including me) expected him to bat painstankingly like he did at Lords, he changed the complexion of the innings. Fielders were under pressure and strokes were played with some freedom. The partnership (115) was built at above four. India will get a first innings lead but only after they frittered away the opportunity to put the game in the bag.

Dinesh Karthik played at an Akthar delivery he did not have to. He will need a better performance in the second innings and in the coming Tests to justify why Sehwag/Gambhir are not even in the squad. Jaffer gave it away too. He had a solid start and was beginning to look good when he played a lazy shot, but the ball from Akthar was mean too. Throughout all this, Tanvir was putting out on his debut, giving away easy runs to Jaffer and Dravid. If he was not doing that, he was pitching it too wide to bother. But some overs after luch, I suspect he decided to pitch it better, and also to bring the ball back in occasionally. Tendulkar got himself run-out, and then Ganguly left a huge gap between bat and pad to Tanvir, and Dravid fell to a scorcher.

Day 1: Sessions one and two to India, and Sami the barnacle.
The second new ball has been taken and Mohammed Sami has continued his staunch resistance. Misbah stayed put at the beginning of the innings and took ages to get going. Now he shields Sami. In between he has scored 69, and the smog never really lifted.

In the first skirmish of the Salman Butt versus Zaheer Khan battle, Zaheer won comfortably with a ball that jagged back in to take the off-stump. It was a lovely period of bowling. This series will feature many more of these skirmishes.

Though Younus Khan has only himself to blame for that top edge that went to Munaf, Zaheer did keep it tight and full, and when it came, the bouncer surprised the Plunderer-in-Chief of Indian Bowling.

Ganguly kept it tight and the ball moved both ways off the seam. His twelve overs went for 24, and what is more, he got the most important wicket of Mohammed Yousuf. Much as I am irritated with Yuvraj being left out, Ganguly did well. It is easy to forget Ganguly's contributions with the ball, but not too long ago he was getting crucial wickets in England. Now it is up to Laxman to come up with a performance that will keep Yuvraj out. Pressure on.

Munaf, Munaf, the comeback boy, he made the most of it, though clearly bowling quite within himself, the kind of thing Unc J Rod so hates. He mostly kept it on a good line and length after some time into his first spell but the pace rarely went over 132 or so. The question is, is that good enough to keep Arpy/Sree out of the side?

Anyway, the umpires have offered light and the barnacles walk off after defying a hungry Indian attack for more than 30 overs. It really perplexes me why Sami came below Shoaib and Tanvir, for he has always been someone who can hold the bat and it is not the first time that an Indian captain has been frustrated by Sami. Kumble seemed okay for the most part, did not overbowl himself and rorated the bowling frequently - basically, got the basics right. Now, how to uproot a barnacle is an education he had to go through, and it is good that he got a lesson on Day 1 itself. Any more analysis of Kumble's captaincy is too early. He bowled well, making the most as only he can, of a pitch with some uneven bounce.

A good day's play. Pakistan will be much happier than they ought to be, and India will be much more frustrated than they ought to be. On the balance, India did get eight wickets on the first day, and Pakistan ought to have scored a few more runs.

4 comments:

Ottayan said...

John!

Your comments on Sachin's brain explosion... nee run out. :)

John said...

I won't go so far as to call it casual. I'll stick with 'accident'. :)

The Atheist said...

Misbah.

It was like the fall of Troy. Only worse.

Soulberry said...

I remember reading somewhere that Misbah's run out was Lawson's fault. There were too many Australian videos in the training sessions. Can't seem to recall who was the poster...

One has become so accustomed to individual brilliance highlighting an Indian performance that the current spree of collective performances after the WC2007 conveys a sense of unease...as if something is missing...that the batting just about made it (despite those individual excellences not resulting in gains and these less spectacular efforts actually leading to wins by more than decent margins). It's due to the blinding effect of those glittering individual performances.