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Monday, July 1, 2019

Indian batsmen crawled ~ die-hard Indian fan cried !!

We have seen bigger losses ~ England was simply brilliant, that catch of Chris Woakes dismissing Pant was exceptional – they fielded brilliantly, bowled to plan, and had runs on the board – a clinical decimation of team India.  India still have nothing to fear – just the first loss – sure would sail to Semis and can take it further on – but when Kedar Jadhav celebrated that boundary, it was too irritating – what hurt was not the loss, but the way the team crawled, the intent was clearly missing,.  As India crawled, the die-hard Indian fan cried ..

Edgbaston Cricket Ground,  home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club is in Birmingham. Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. By 1791 it was being hailed as "the first manufacturing town in the world".  The modern Birmingham is a major international commercial centre, It possesses three universities and two university colleges make it the largest centre of higher education in the United Kingdom outside London.  Edgbaston traditionally has a reputation for being one of the most highend, upmarket and/or affluent parts of Birmingham.  Warwickshire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure; its home is Edgbaston Cricket Ground. 
This is a historic ground in existence for over a century.  Edgbaston's first test match was the first in the The Ashes series against Australia in 1902.   The scorecard reads : England 337 for 7 (Bairstow 111, Stokes 79, Roy 66, Shami 5-69) beat India306 (Rohit 102, Kohli 66, Plunkett 3-55) by 31 runs  ~ clearly 31 was not the margin, Indians were beaten squarely by a longer measure. 

Jason Roy was back, despite not being fully fit and that made a huge difference. Jonny Bairstow was back to his monster-hitting mode. Liam Plunkett was back in the XI in a tactical swap, replacing Moeen Ali, and took out Virat Kohli in a chase of 338. 'New' England got their wobbling World Cup campaign back on track at Edgbaston, outbatting and outbowling India, clad in new, orange-and-dark-blue jerseys.  If England can follow up their 31-run victory on Sunday with another win against New Zealand on Wednesday, they will make the semi-finals, irrespective of the other results.
Chris Woakes great catch dismissing Rishab Pant

We have seen and heard it all ~ Rohit Sharma oozed class and alongwith Kohli blossomed a fine partnership. Could not but imagine the blame Sachine would have had – whenever India lost, social media would erupt stating that ‘when Sachin scores a ton, India loses; he played for records and more’ – not to defame Rohit, though he ended on losing side, his effort was valiant .. .. and we would hear so many voices drowning Dhoni, blaming him for the loss. Some would call for head, advocate Dinesh Karthik or question how Rishab Pant, who was not part of the squad came into playing X1.

Sadly, towards the end, MS Dhoni struggled to find the boundary, as did Kedar Jadhav, and they even drew boos from the crowd. They gulped seven dots and took 20 singles in the 31 balls they were there together. Dhoni made 42 off 31 while Kedar had 12 off 13 in a bizarre passage of play as India managed only 306 despite five wickets in the shed. But the rot had set in at the start itself. Chasing a total as steep as 338, India made just 28 runs in the first Powerplay. Then in the final five overs of the innings MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav managed to hit just three fours and a six while picking up 20 singles and playing out six dots. It might be difficult to prove that India lost the match in these two crucial segments of play, but what can be definitively said is India lacked intent upfront and at the death – and that hurts !!

Indian openers, especially Rohit Sharma, believe in following the routine of settling down without taking any undue risk. However, 28 for 1 is the slowest start in the World Cup after the first Powerplay. Partly that pressure was built after KL Rahul rushed into a premeditated shot - a flick - off a straight delivery from Chris Woakes, who took a lovely return catch. This after Woakes had bowled a maiden to Rahul in the first over of the innings. In fact, it was India that were in agony. Woakes bowled three consecutive maidens. The England fast bowlers were highly disciplined as they kept mixing up the deliveries on a pitch that was flat, but slow.

Virat Kohli has questioned Edgbaston's short, 59-metre boundary where England openers picked off a substantial percentage of runs against the Indian bowlers. Although Kohli did not blame the shorter boundary for India's first defeat of the World Cup, he did raise an eyebrow over the dimensions on one side, which he called "bizarre" and "crazy" on a pitch that was flat, and slow. The shorter boundary was a bother for India. On Saturday, as soon India arrived at the ground, the coaching staff comprising Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun were seen having word with the head groundsman. As the host of the tournament, the guidelines for pitch and ground conditions are set by the ICC.  But that was a physical measurement and what were the Chief Selector doing – in picking  two wrist spinners in their first XI this World Cup in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Perhaps a team of Ravindra Jadeja in place of Kuldeep and Bhuvi in place of Jadhav  could have made difference ..

It’s rare for a bowler to draw the ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s when the batting team goes hammer and tongs. Even rarer to bowl 30 dot balls in a 10-over spell when the batting team makes 337. And in such a total, how often does one concede 27 in five overs when the other five in the last 10 go for 65?   There is nothing exceptional about figures of 10-1-44-1. But in bowling those overs, Jasprit Bumrah made jaws drop for the way he made batsmen struggle to put bat on ball on a day when willow dominated leather.  “Bumrah was outstanding in the end,” wrote VVS Laxman. “Outstanding spell. World No 1 for a reason,” read one from Yuvraj Singh. “The best death bowler India has ever produced?” asked Aakash Chopra. There were many not so famous names, posting words of appreciation. It was all that and more. In the five overs he bowled in the last 10, when England had wickets in hand and Ben Stokes was making a mess of Mohammed Shami’s economy rate, Bumrah bowled three dot balls in each of over numbers 43, 46 and 50. One more could have been added to the last one had the batsmen not run a bye. There was one four against him in this phase, off an edge.

.. .. in the end, India lost – what hurts the average Indian fan – was the approach – the crawling, the lack of intent – and when they show Ravi Shastri on screen or Jadhav celebrating that boundary hit .. !!  ~ the feeling was .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st July 2019

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