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India vs Pakistan: A Sunday morning collapse

ANALYST
30 Dec 2012, 12:04 IST
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The ‘Sunday Morning Collapse’ should not have been the cue for the series. I wanted India to whitewash Pakistan and reach the top of the ODI rankings. But, the Indian top order had different ideas. The fickle nature of Indian batting caught up with them once again. Here is a short account of what the nation went through in the first hour of the series in a brief description of fall of wickets.

The first to go was Sehwag. Since, this was the first match of the series, I expected Sehwag to come good. He is one of those who scores well in the first game of the series and then makes way for others to do well in the remainder. But, nothing is permanent. And so, Sehwag did not score his customary series opening century and kick started the slideshow.

As soon as Junaid Khan started his first over, my friend – Sandy, predicted Sehwag’s mode of dismissal. Though I had serious misgivings about his pessimism within the first few minutes of the game, Sehwag vindicated his thoughts. Stuck on the crease, no feet movement and huge gap between the bat-pad characterized Sehwag’s little stay at the crease.  As Sherry said – ‘Beech mein se ek truck nikal jaye’ (a truck can pass through that bat-pad gap).  This problem has come to haunt Sehwag time and again. The mode of Sehwag’s dismissal is now predictable and can be planned in a jiffy – an in-swinging fuller ball on off-stump.

I mentioned the need to instill ‘patience’ while beginning the innings. The next three dismissals showed the acute lack of patience.

Gambhir followed suit. He wasn’t comfortable at the crease but never looked as troubled as Sehwag. Mohammad Irfan set up his dismissal well. Irfan was consistently bowling outside the off stump. He bowled one on the middle stump which nipped back in. Gambhir attempted a loose drive. This was simply outrageous – how could you attempt that shot when you faced difficulty putting bat to ball? The result was the same. Sound of timber; timber, not willow.

With both openers back in the pavilion, I expected some sanity to come into the Indian batting and expected to see some thought process behind every shot. Kohli and Yuvraj were at the crease. With the most consistent pair at the crease, a revival looked imminent.

However, Kohli was neither proactive nor reactive. He did not learn from Gambhir’s mistake. Yet another Junaid ball, yet another loose drive and timber was heard again. And it meant that Rameez Raja had become next to intolerable and I had to switch to hindi commentary. It was a disappointing end and heart-breaking to see Kohli depart for a duck. If Kohli failed to catch the line and length, what should I expect from the following batsmen?

Junaid was on fire. But this did not mean that the Indian batsmen had to tread on burning coals. Junaid bowled the same ball yet again to Yuvraj Singh. Instead of playing with a straight bat, the Man of the Match of the previous game chose to close the face of the bat and play the ball towards midwicket. Yuvraj was comprehensively beaten and India was left tottering at 20 for 4.

I reiterate, Gambhir, Kohli and Yuvi were all victims of lack of patience. In conditions which assisted seam bowling, where there was significant movement off the seam and when the batsmen witnessed the other end falling, even a reactive measure to save their wicket was expected. None of them chose to bat with a straight face and carried on with their preferred shots. It was indeed a poor valuation of their own wicket which was otherwise prized highly by the opposition.

Next to the crease was Rohit Sharma. I have never cherished his batting except when he is expected to score 20-odd runs off the last over in IPL. Sharma played with a straight bat but failed to take into account the bounce in the pitch. He was dismissed by a rising ball which struck his bat’s shoulder and the ball flew to the third slip. Hafeez made no mistake and took a clean and spectacular catch.

But all hope was not lost. The crisis man – MS Dhoni came to the crease and restored sanity and peace. Together with Raina, Chennai Super King’s best pair started reviving the Indian innings.

I hope the best result follows.

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