What can be better way to start a blog for an Indian fan, than talk about an India-Pakistan cricket match. Boy-o-boy, what a thriller. I believe, T20 was the best thing ever to have happened for Cricket.
Oops!! Did i ruffle some feathers there?? Well, puritans amongst the cricket-crazy would probably now be moaning at the heretical statement above. According to them, anything less than a 5 day slug-fest is nothing better than child’s play. But let me enumerate a few arguments in favor of my opinion:-
- To be sure, everyone likes drama. Everyone would love to have a contest wherein, tilt of the needle keeps shifting from side-to-side until one emerges winner. But 5 days is pushing it!! Even the One-Day version is too much of a stretch for the Fast-food generation.
- The T20 is not just about big hits and easy runs. Thats one of the most prevalent misconceptions about the game. Given a helpful track, a good bowling attack wreaks havoc with the opposition. Of all teams, Zim battered World Champs Aus, and reduced them to just 139 all out. Can ya believe it? The mighty Aussies bundled out for just 139 in less than 20 overs by Minnows Zimbabwe..
- Finally we have a format of cricket, where a team plays and each individual’s mistakes count. A team ought to be good in all areas in order to win. You cannot get relaxed for even a minute in the game. I like to call it, the Lawn Tennis meets Cricket form of Play. Just as in Tennis you cannot relax in any game of any set of any match, unless you want to be knocked out; in the ongoing T20 World Cup you cannot afford to perform loosely for any stretch of time in any match. You might be kicked out faster than you’d know.
Okay, i liked the game. But i didn’t know how interesting it can get until I saw the Ind-Pak match yesterday. Whoever said, this is just game of Bang-Bang and no drama, would be a convert now. You had drama from the very first over, till the last ball.
The fireworks started with a stunning spell from Md Asif, an extremely talented Pak seamer, who scalped the top 4 wickets in the Indian Batting lineup in his allotted 4 overs. As if that wasn’t enough Pakistan had the deadly Umar Gul firing from the other end, and a new left arm-seamer who bowls on the wrong foot named Sohail Tanvir. It took an inspired batting display by Robin Utthappa for India to get to a respectable total of 141. Out of the Indian lot, i felt as if only Utthappa took the pains to practice for this tournament, and the new format. The second highest scorer from India was Dhoni, but he wasn’t hitting as hard as he’s renowned for. He always looked as if trying to find his bearings in this new world. Maybe new-found burden of captaincy is one reason.
But just when you thought its all over for India, and Pak would easily defeat them; a different sort of a match was in offing. The Indian bowlers manage to restrict the Pak batsmen somehow, and even got them out cheaply. Even Indian fielding looked markedly improved from their display in England. If now their fielding can be rated as 2/10, their fielding in the English outing was nothing better than -5/10. Anyhow, Misbah-ul-Haq was the lone fighter for Pakistan with a well-made 53.
After a pressure situation in the overs from about 10-18, Pakistan resulted in a needed score of 29 of the last 2 overs. As it happened, Agarkar decided to lend a helping hand to Pakistan by letting go 18 runs in the 19th over. So, the target came down to 11 off the last over, and Pakistan looked determined to get it. Pak batsmen managed to get 10 of the first 4 deliveries and tied the score. But a dot ball by Sreesanth followed by Misbah’s run out on the last ball meant that the match was tied.
But we can’t have a Tie in T20, can we :-). Next came the bowl-out phase, where just like penalty shoot-out in Hockey or Football, Bowlers are supposed to aim at empty wickets. Whichever side gets more wickets bowled best of 5, wins. Here, the Pak bowlers uncharacteristically kept missing stumps, and India won 3-0. I am still baffled by the inability of Pak bowlers to bowl straight, and who kept missing the stumps by a big margin.
All in all, a great match, and I am looking forward to more of the same in the rest of the Tournament. Long Live the Game!!!