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A general critique... (2004)

 
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I sympathise with Agentsmith's emotions. All over the world, Bangalis either woke up early or didn't go to bed to watch the match. Every one of us watched with a sense of make-believe or incredible over-optimism.

A general critique...

Published: 21st July, 2004

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I sympathise with Agentsmith's emotions. All over the world, Bangalis either woke up early or didn't go to bed to watch the match. Every one of us watched with a sense of make-believe or incredible over-optimism.

Let us face the facts. A team with 105 points in the ICC ODI table was playing one with just 1 point. The result was as would be expected. No better or no worse.

But we have to live in hope ! Given the difference in class, all we can hope against the big boys, is that one day soon our players will play above their potential and virtually all from the opponent will play well below their potential.

I do not blame either Ashraful (whose call was it by the way?) or Pilot for the run out. Maybe we would have scored 210, but India would have lost 4 wickets, say. It would not have made a huge difference. Remember Balaji also gifted us at least 20 runs!

But I do blame certain tendencies! I find innings after innings the sheer irresponsibility of Bashar difficult to accept. Before this match I had argued in a thread for him to open. So he did. However, I also expressed my fear of him facing Pathan. Sadly, my fear proved prescient. My fear was based not where he bats but the manner in which he bats. That same ball would have been met by countless first class cricketers by going a touch more forward but carrying bat and pad together. The ball would have rapped on the pads but because of close proximity of the bat the umpire in 99% of cases would have given not out. Ashraful, incidentally, was batting about a feet in front of the crease precisely to nullify the same kind of movements. I found Ashraful's innings a mature one today. But even he began to lose his concentration during the last 10 minutes of his stay.

Bashar's irresponsibility difficult to accept

Bashar's irresponsibility difficult to accept

Kapali and Ashraful played quite well. Normally, one could criticise Kapali's dismissal. But this is a one-day match and a little risk always has to be taken.

I also wanted Faisal to play. I am glad he did. I liked his confidence. He showed the same in the Caribbean. However, he just does not move his feet. This 'Basharitis' is contagious! He has a good eye and so does Bashar. But that's where it ends.

Our most glaring failure took place during Ashraful and Faisal's otherwise good partnership of 36. Harbajhan and Nehra were bowling quite tightly. In this situation, we seem to prefer to hit fours and sixes to get out of the hole. If you had watched Sangakara and Jayawardene the other day, they rotated the strike and only hit out against the bad balls. This was the time when the initiative was handed over to the Indians. It was an uphill struggle after that.

I would not blame the tailenders as it is not their primary job to score runs. They do score more than their fair share. Yet again, 7 out of 10 batsmen getting out scored more than 10. But no one over 35.

The bowlers did a reasonable holding job. That is what they normally do quite well. Their mettle would be tested if the batsmen ever give them 250 to bowl with.

Finally, this is the first time, I would say, I am not happy with Whatmore. I do not mind the experiments. Bashar opening, fine. Razzak opening, fine. It accords with my thinking of taking the pace out of the game. Note the spinners were far more economical. Rafique was hit for 3 sixes! Yes, but the batsmen then have to take that extra bit of risk.

My gripe with Whatmore is to do with the left handers. Faisal and Rana went in as 5 and 6. Why not one of them near the top so that the opposing bowlers have to contend with a left-right combination. If not 1 or 2, then, at least, no. 3.

Dropping Tapash completely baffles me. If I had to keep one pacer, it would be him as he at least looks like taking wickets. In the WI, in one ODI he took 4. Between, Mushfiq and Mahmud, I would still have gone for Mushfiq. Though, today Mahmud did no worse than anyone else.

My changes for the SL match would be to bring back Tapash for Tareq (we do not have the luxury of buying a wicket at 7 runs an over for 7 overs). I continue to advocate Saleh to be dropped. Today, he got the ultimate "Test match" situation when he walked in. He scoffed it badly. He has to go now. I would push Faisal up in the order.

And then pray.

 

About the author(s): Imtiaz Kabir was introduced to cricket in the days of shortwave radio. He later settled in England where he had the opportunity to watch the greats of the last 30 years and more.

 

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