Thursday, August 23, 2012

India through to Finals of U19 World Cup



Perhaps the charm of ODI too is lost with too much of T20 and IPL – for most think the shorter versions to be one of boundaries, mishits and sixers.  There can never be an answer to what is a winning score or whether a score of XXX is good enough to be defended, especially after close of 1st innings.

Today there are 2 matches involving India and New Zealand.  The 1st Test gets underway at Hyderabad and the other at Townsville, Australia where India played New Zealand in the Semis of the U19 World Cup.  Batting first India made 209 in their allotted overs, though at one point of time a score of 250+ looked likely.  Their top order made runs -  opener P Chopra made a doughty 52 off 104; Unmukht Chand made 31, Aparajith 44 and Vihari 22.  At one stage they were 130/1 in 31 overs. 

For those with the mindset that scores of 300+ are the norms, the pitches at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville have provided the batsmen with stern tests.  In the earlier 3 matches at the same venue, Indians have not made great totals.   Against West Indies, India were restricted to 166 for 8 and lost; against Zimbabwe they made 261, but at one stage were in danger of scoring much fewer after a strong start; in the quarter-final against Pakistan they chased down 137 with one wicket in hand.  Today they made 209 which was a winning score in the end.  India's Sandeep Sharma has bent it and bowled exceptionally well providing break through at the start.

It will be much tougher test against the Australians in the finals and will India win the U19 WC again ?

Back home, the not so high-profile Test match against the visiting Black Caps got underway this morning at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderaabad.  The earlier venue - the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium - was owned by the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, giving the Hyderabad Cricket Association limited control over the ground. This is a new stadium built in 2004, a big one at that stretching over 16 acres of land.  

Now there are talks of the India team without Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman;- not admitting the fact that the retirement was advanced if not forced.   New Zealand are without Daniel Vettori.  India played poorly in England and in Australia and very recently NZ had a dismal series against lowly rated West Indies.  The test provides wonderful  opportunity for younger players like Virat Kohli, Chetewwar Pujara and Suresh Raina   to stake a permanent place in the middle order, instead of only being seen as replacements when the top stars are unavailable.  This  series  would certainly be the  easier part of the challenge,  as we play England and Australia next,  followed by a series in South Africa in 2013.

Though statistics may not alter the result of a match – half of the India – NZ tests have ended in draw. (25/50) and in India 16 of them have ended in draw from 29 with India winning 11 and NZ only 2.  

At lunch Indians batting first had made 97-2 in 25 overs.  A decent session with Pujara and Tendulkar at the crease; sadly the media might write of Sehwag failing again.  For any other player, if he grinds for 3 hours and makes 40, it would be good – not for Viru.  Virender Sehwag made 47 off 41 balls with 9 hits to the fence – he was out to  bracewell at 14.3; still not many players play faster than this even in a T20

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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