1st ODI, Vadodara

 When you are picking a squad for the first two ODIs, why not pick players who are fit for both? Selecting an unfit Yuvraj (they aren’t sure if he’ll be fit for the second game) was ridiculous and a chance to another deserving batsman was denied.

Ponting won the toss and not surprisingly, chose to bat. Watson was tentative and stayed rooted to the crease. He escaped the first ball but Nehra beat him for pace and caught him in front in the very next delivery. In came Ponting and I’ve hardly seen him miss a pull shot these days. Punter’s missed pull off Nehra indicated that the pitch didn’t offer true bounce. It stayed relatively firm throughout but offered a lot of turn.

With the new ball, Praveen Kumar is not exposed but in his fifth consecutive over, there was little swing and Ponting dispatched him out of the attack. Until then Nehra and Praveen were doing a good job but that poor Praveen over swung the momentum towards the Aussies.

I noticed Ishant closely and he’s surely short of self-belief. His natural balls are going down leg and he made conscious extra effort (with a disturbed rhythm and less pace) to send balls on and around the off stump.

Harbhajan’s bowling was all over the place whereas Jadeja attacked the stumps, strictly maintained a stump to stump line and was rewarded with Ponting’s wicket with a beauty. Ponting, I thought underestimated Jadeja while trying to play a couple of big strokes but the young man showed discipline and proved to be very good. There was some doubt as to whether the ball had pitched outside leg but umpire Shahvir Tarapore took his time and made a fine decision.

My friend Rajesh wanted Praveen Kumar to be thrashed before I criticized him and Praveen was very much at the receiving end yesterday. Dhoni probably expected him to be of Kemar Roach’s pace and introduced him in the middle overs. The fellow survived a very expensive over as White couldn’t middle a few loose balls. Dhoni made a good change in bringing Raina for Praveen but that didn’t pay off as well. There’s a lot of talk about ‘specialist bowlers for the death’ but India continued to bowl loose balls in the end overs. Once White gifted his wicket away, Voges couldn’t find his feet during the powerplay as there was added pressure on him. How often do we see the batting powerplay go in favour of the fielding side due to compulsion for the batsmen to take the aerial route?? Praveen Kumar though kept on bowling meaningless slower balls which were picked up very easily. He doesn’t outthink the batsmen and continues to use the slower ball without being sure, that the batsman isn’t expecting one.

Hussey came out as the best batsman. He never took any risk, kept the scorers busy and ended up making a significant contribution. 292 was always a tough task, especially against Lee and Siddle. Lee, I think will prove to be the difference between the teams in this series. He is bowling as well as ever and looks like the world’s best fast bowler today. I can’t understand why he wasn’t given his full quota of ten overs but I now hear he had some trouble with his elbow.

 Sehwag’s shot selection these days  is near perfect. He looked in supreme touch and the Aussies were lucky to get him early. Sachin looked to play a big innings but couldn’t middle the balls. He looked a little out of touch. Siddle bowled a testing spell to Sachin at good pace and just outside off. Gambhir and Kohli did not take the initiative to attack the bowlers during the powerplay. Even though Watson and Johnson were ordinary, the batsmen couldn’t keep up a good enough run rate. I remember Sachin toying around with Hopes in Australia a couple of seasons back and batsmen seem to be giving him too much respect to him these days. Adam Voges is another bowler whose bowling career could have been finished off today but he was given royal treatment by Gambhir and Kohli. The pair should have started accelerating slowly when the inexperienced Kohli played a suicidal shot to get out. When Dhoni came in to bat, ( I was surprised he didn’t come at No. 3!!) Ponting made a good move in bringing back Siddle. The captain was left clueless. He could just manage some irresponsible slices on the off side.

 Though it wasn’t utilized properly, one should appreciate the decision of taking the batting powerplay in the 34th over. Gambhir lost concentration and missed a full ball from Johnson. Raina looked in good touch but was left foxed by a slower one from Johnson. And when Dhoni held out at mid on, most of the television sets in India would have been switched off.

What followed later was proof that the game is one of glorious uncertainty. There was little pressure on Harbhajan and Praveen Kumar and the duo carried on and on. The Aussie bowlers had little pressure on them and were going through the motions. They thought that the match was in their hands and the bowlers hardly focused on finishing off the tail. Harbhajan’s timing was as sweet as honey. Nobody expected Bhajji to win the match for India and he thoroughly enjoyed his batting stint. And in the end, when just 9 runs were needed off the last over, there was pressure on the batsmen. They were scoring at more than 10 runs an over  previously and 9 runs off the last over meant that people expected them to win it for India. Harbhajan couldn’t handle this, went for a wild swipe over mid wicket and was bowled by Siddle.

 The match ended up very close and Australia survived the Turbanator scare.

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4 Comments on “1st ODI, Vadodara”

  1. AG Says:

    Well……….u r a very keen observer of the game and ur comments seem to come from a pro. Looking forward more stuff from u.Keep blogging.

  2. Tashi Says:

    You cannot really portray anything from one match as argument. So, PK got smashed around in this one. You can’t simply state that and say he gets smashed around. You need to form patterns. Sure, he is not very quick, but within his limitations he is very good. He keeps it accurate and moves it both ways. Now, if he gets carted around through a series you could then argue. Sometimes, even that is not enough. I had the same issue when you ranted about the one bad shot Dhoni played in the Challenger Trophy. You have to find patterns and several instances. Otherwise you have simply made conclusions and then when such an incident occurs, you will say ‘I told you so’, and that is just bad commentary.

    • SJK Says:

      Once I’ve identified the limitations, I look at the next option. A good selector doesn’t wait for the patterns to be formed. An average selector would act only after the end of a poor series. Get rid of him before giving away huge totals and losing games.


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