Monday, February 14, 2011


There was just one warm up match for the World Cup today... and it was a high profile one! The hosts India were taking on four-time defending champions Australia. A good sized crowd had materialised even before the toss, which was won by Dhoni.

First Innings

The first thing that hit you on watching this innings was that Lee is looking good, sharp and dangerous. He was a threat from the very first ball, when he got a very good shape into Gautam Gambhir. However, despite what all the other reports might suggest, the rest of the Australian pace attack seemed off colour to me. Too many wides on either side of the stumps was a very uncharacteristic element of their performance today (this statement does not apply to Mitchell Johnson)!

India would be and should be worried by the tendency of the batsmen to play too many casual strokes sometimes. Kohli, Dhoni and Raina were the guilty ones today. Yuvraj, Dhoni and Raina continued to look rusty and jaded. They need to find some inspiration somewhere to lift themselves... because the top-order may not be able to perform 3 matches in a row from the Quarter finals onwards!

It was interesting to watch Jason Krejza bowl. He was way too short a lot of times... but it still looked that he had flighted it up nicely. His height helps him with a good attacking ball trajectory, and also allows more revolutions on the ball before it bounces. The resultant spin was evident by its display today. It was sharp and it was refreshing to watch an Australian spinner do it.

He was a little expensive today though! And that will be Australia's biggest problem. Ponting has too many attacking options - Lee, Johnson, Bollinger, Tait (did not play today) and Krejza. He will need to get a good few overs out of Hastings, Watson and Hussey to bring stability to the attack, because three of his attacking bowlers (Johson, Tait and Krejza) have a tendency to be expensive sometimes (two of them erratic too)!

Since 2 of these 3 are bound to feature in the XI, Ponting will need someone who can do a holding job with the ball. Hastings showed he can do it and we all know Watson can do it. But the interesting question for me is: can Ponting afford to and will he dare to play Mitch and Tait together in the XI?

Second Innings

Though it became a Ponting and Chawla show later on, the second innings for me was all about Shane Watson and how different he is from the rest of his team! Watson was super confident and in imperious touch today. He never looked hurried, let alone troubled! And the pace at which he was getting his boundaries, I immediately started thinking way ahead of him as a contender for the Player of the Tournament award.

Sreesanth looked very good today and he will need to maintain this rhythm for a month and a half more for India to have a strong chance of winning the World Cup. Munaf and Nehra were pathetic to the point that Dhoni might now seriously consider playing 2 spinners and 2 pacers in his attack. There was one fielding effort (or rather, the lack of it) where Nehra did not bend enough to stop a drive that convinced me that the time has come to drop him for at least a couple of games.

All the spinners were good, but I am still not convinced about Chawla's place in the XI. This pitch was supportive, and he bowled well. When pitches are flatter and not supportive, will he be as good or even half as good? I have my doubts! And to be fair, Ashwin bowled just as well as Chawla in my opinion, without having anything significant to show for it.

Australia should be concerned by another batting collapse... something that has become fairly regular in their cricket now. Their middle order situation is even worse than that of India's, and that's saying something!


Both teams are strong enough, despite the shortcomings, to reach the semis. Ian Chappell reckons they will meet each other at that stage... and if they do, expect it to be another cracker like this one!

1 comment:

Govind Raj said...

I agree with your view about Chawla. One spell doesn't make a career. Ashwin bowled many good ones and the catch Virat dropped in the slips came of a beauty.