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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Pune ODI - Pant breathtaking knock .. .. some lessons to be learnt !!

For an ardent Cricket lover, the loss at Pune in 2nd ODI on 26.3.2021 is hurting – bowling attack appeared very weak, spinners were carted for 6s at will and more than anything else a score of 336 appeared below par – left nursing a feeling that it could have been more (not sure whether the result would have still changed, given the way England chased !)

Rishab Pant in recent times has been a revelation ~ he has ensured Test victory abroad and now is showing that he is capable of deciding the fate of matches, not necessarily T2oI or IPL !!  .. .. and at Pune he excelled in challenging the decision of Umpires (DRS) too !  .. .. He for sure would be feeling bad after that six hitting spree (7 sixers) and a 40 ball selfless 77 that lifted India to 300 + and the grand partnership with Hardik Pandya 35 off 16 with 4 sixers went in vain – mainly because of the poor bowling and lack of urgency of top four !!

The fall of wickets depict the Indian approach clearly : 1-9 (Shikhar Dhawan, 3.5 ov), 2-37 (Rohit Sharma, 8.4 ov), 3-158 (Virat Kohli, 31.6 ov),- yes in a 50 over limited match with such a batting line up at 32 Indians were less than 5 runrate .. !! !!  then came the partnership between Rahul and Pant -  4-271 (KL Rahul, 44.5 ov), 5-308 (Rishabh Pant, 46.5 ov), 6-334 (Hardik Pandya, 49.5 ov) 

The way England approach especially with Jason Roy, Johnny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan, Jos Butler – 350 itself appears below par and the starts have been omnious.  Indian spinners (it was no longer mystery KUldeep) had no control and were hit at will – making the Q – how and why the great Ravichandran Ashwin is kept out ! 

Despite suffering a collapse of 10 for 116 to bungle a chase of 318 in the first ODI, England captain Eoin Morgan insisted that there was no reason for the world champions to veer away from the turbo-charged approach that has served them well. Three days later, Morgan wasn't available for the second match - he has been ruled out of the third too with a hand injury - but Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow epitomised that approach to help England mow down a bigger target of 337 with almost 40 balls to spare. Jason Roy also did his thing at the top, as England reduced KL Rahul's more sedate century in the first half to a footnote.

In a match where sixers galored, - 34 of them -  India (14) and England (20), the third-most in a One-Day International and the second-most in an ODI hosted by India.  Kuldeep Yadav alone conceded eight sixes. Only two bowlers have conceded more sixes in an ODI match; 11 sixes off Rashid Khan against England at the 2019 World Cup, and nine off Moeen Ali against West Indies in 2019.

All this on a day when 336 was hit and England spinners had such economic spells ! – bowling in tandem at the middle.  Moeen Ali, who averages 51 runs for a wicket and concedes at 5.30 an over in ODIs, bowled at 4.70 an over; was hit for one boundary, that too thanks to a misfield by Ben Stokes at the 30-yard ring.  Adil Rashid had figures of 10-0-65-1. 

Watching Pant play was most enjoyable – he is fearless, innovates, hits from most difficult angles, even his one handed shot sails over the rope .. treats every bowler with disdain and adds so much of enthusiasm. 

Rules are ridiculous ~ ICC framing them and not in a position to amend such oddities should feel bad.  Last ball of 40th over of Tom Curran, Rishab got into a tangle, trying to get ready for a reverse sweep, ball hitting him went to fine leg and crossed the boundary.  Umpire gave him out LBW and he without hesitating for a second reviewed and started smiling ! . .. the ball had hit his bat – so decision reversed – ‘Not out’ – but NO RUNS – though the ball had crossed the ropes – legitimately it should only have been 4 .. ..when batsman is declared out, it becomes a dead ball and hence No run – but when that decision itself is reversed, should it not be automatic reversal of dead ball too !! – ‘No rules are eerie ! – not out, dead ball – no run’.  

Same bowler 41.4 Pant given caught behind – instantaneous review – good bouncer, hitting the forearm of Rishab trying to pull, deflecting on to his helmet. Butler and bowler appealed and review upheld, decision reversed. At last 46.5 Pant again sliced Tom Curran, Roy ran in from sweeper took the ball, appeared to have grounded it – Umpires checked the catch (again soft-signalling an out when they were indecisive) and was given out. A great carefree innings coming to an end. 

The way Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya batted and with Krunal waiting the slowness of KL Rahul and earlier of Kohli, Rohit, Dhawan becomes inexplicable.  India needs a different type of start and for that a different kind of approach – not wasting 30 overs and trying to lift in the last 15 !!  .. ..

The tall England bowler Topley too is a revelation.  Reece James William Topley  in the past 5 years, has had four stress fractures, one bout of surgery and countless injections but has overcome them all and bowled reasonably well yesterday at Pune.

By some statistics, England’s 337 run chase bettered their previous one of 266!  .. .. and that occurred when 11 players including Sunil Gavaskar debuted, yes India’s fist ever ODI appearance at Leeds on July 13, 1974.  Rookie India made 265 lost the match by 4 wicekts with 23 balls to spare.  It was a 55 over match – Sunil Gavaskar opened with Sudhir Naik ; Captain Ajit Wadekar scored 67 and Brijesh Patel topscored with 82 off 78 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixers. The playing X1 was Sunil Gavaskar, Sudhir Naik, Ajit Wadekar, Gundappa Viswanath, Farokh Engineer, Brijesh Patel, Eknath Solkar, Abid Ali, S Madanlal, Srinivasan Venkatraghavan & Bishan Bedi. Robin Jackman debuted for England

Interesting !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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