ICC Champions Trophy 2013 Semi Final 2: India v/s SL - The Quick Flicks

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When Sri Lanka was confirmed as India’s opponent in the second semi-final of the Champions Trophy, the first thought that went through my mind was: “Not Again!“. Every year, it’s the same story. I sometimes think that the ICC ought to simply conduct a series of bilateral matches between these two sides instead of having an open tournament (even the quadrennial World Cup won’t be needed any longer). Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of watching them play each other over and over again – it’s like those old audio cassettes that keep playing the same songs repeatedly. However, the game did have its interesting moments, some of which are highlighted below:

Score Less, Bore More

After toiling painfully for 50 overs, the Lankans managed to score 181. What is it with the teams that have participated in this year’s edition? Why put the spectators to sleep if your batsmen aren’t able to give them their money’s worth? I’ve never seen a tournament, even in England, where low scores have become the norm. Honestly, if I had been in the stadium today, I’d have fallen asleep about 5 overs into the SL innings. Even Slowpoke Antonio (google it) would have scored faster than these guys. The same thing happened during the chase, though India did not have to take too many risks. But there’s no way 50-over cricket can survive if such games peter out to become almost like Test matches.

Angelo Mathews – The Lone Ranger

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Okay, so this may not be the most appropriate moniker attached to the Sri Lankan all-rounder – he doesn’t have the horse, for starters. But spare a thought for the poor guy: he had to play the big shots in order to set a near-impossible target for the opposition. Sure, 89 balls are way too many to score 51 runs off, but the Sri Lankan skipper had no other choice: wickets were falling like nine pins around him. Fortunately for everyone’s sanity, Ashwin put the fellow out of his misery with a lovely carrom ball. Mathews came back to pick up Rohit Sharma‘s wicket during the chase, but found little support from his bowlers. So yes, he is the Lone Ranger without the costume or the horse.

MSD Bowls Again

India v Sri Lanka: Semi Final - ICC Champions Trophy

This is one sight I never want to see again when India play any match. Why on earth does Dhoni bowl only in Champions Trophy games? Rather, the bigger question is - Why does he have to bowl when he’s got five specialist bowlers and part-timer Suresh Raina? This stunt wouldn’t have been pulled had Dinesh Karthik not been in the playing XI – and maybe Sri Lanka would have gone on to post a bigger total. Even bringing Virat Kohli into the attack would have been understandable – but MSD, you have to realize that cricket’s a team game, not an individual one. You can’t be the only all-rounder in the side – it’ll be a direct insult to Sir Ravindra Jadeja!

Delhi Boys Join The Party

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Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma and Virat Kohli not only did their country proud, but also their state. The Delhi boys were in the thick of things today, starting off with Ishant’s welcome return to some form, and ending with Virat’s quickfire knock. In between, Shikhar played a composed innings (seriously, that moustache of his gives me the impression that he’s got a quick temper – appearances are deceptive!) and together, the three became the cornerstones of today’s win. Fantastic!

Of Short Pitched Deliveries and Carrom Balls

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India’s bowling plan (I’m tired of using the word strategy - best to leave it in the MBA classrooms) consisted of dishing out as much of the short stuff as they could. It made a welcome change from their usual tactic of bowling restraining lines. Fortunately, things clicked with the rising deliveries as pacer Ishant Sharma used them cleverly to conjure a Man-of-the-Match-winning performance. Ashwin re-discovered his carrom ball and used it to telling effect against the folks from the Emerald Isle (how they must have missed Ajantha Mendis!). Perhaps a plan of this sort could be used in the nets too – at least Suresh Raina might then be able to play them better instead of dancing around them!

India entered the final of the last Champions Trophy for the second time and if all goes well as it has right throughout the tournament, they may as well lift the Cup. Sri Lanka’s team, on the other hand, need to rest and re-group before embarking on their new assignment. As for me – I will keep my distance should both these teams play each other again this year. Over to Edgbaston!

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Edited by Staff Editor
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