Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Warm up matches

An Air France plane missing over the Atlantic, Indian students being attacked in Australia, a 100 year old titan of corporate America finally keeling over and swine flu spreading slowly but surely - a T20 cricket world cup seems trivial in this background and warm up matches even more so. Despite that, here goes...

Warm up games are like pre-poll jousting between candidates. No one knows what to make of them or how they will count in the final tally.

South Africa have started well (yet again) in a World Cup. They would take a weak start and a strong finish everytime. England 1999, India-Pak-SL 1996, more recently SA 2007, where they won 4 out of 4 before running into India.

Australia is in business. Remember Champions Trophy 2006 (the Sharad Pawar one). They went after it in all cold blooded seriousness and got what they wanted. Teams like India and South Africa that are said to be title contenders must look out. Expect Australia (and a wounded Symonds) to come very hard.

Pakistan's poor outing means nothing. Expect them to lose the non-consequential games and close ranks when they are pushed to the wall. Once they do that, no team is a bigger threat. Plus, no other team has a 100% record against Australia in any format of the game (though they have played all of two matches)

New Zealand cannot lose to India in a T20. Q has summed them up superbly here.

They way India bowled their death overs and the way Ashraful and co laid into Aussie bowling points to an interesting first round. Shakib Al Hassan is a successful all rounder in ODI's and has come up with stellar performances, which have not been noticed, perhaps because Bangladesh have been soundly beaten, all the time.
Indians need to quickly decide on what to do with Irfan Pathan, having brought him to England. Make no mistake, he is a match-winning batsman in T20's, one of the better fielders but is unable to string a decent spell in any form of cricket for quite some time now. If the composition is 6 batsmen + 2 fast bowlers + 1 spinner + Yusuf + Irfan, then India is spreading itself very thin on bowling. In case one of the 3 main bowlers get collared, then stopping the runs would be a problem.
Yusuf's position is also something they need to think about. Dhoni's batting requires a post by itself, but he too must decide where he adds value to this line up and how best would he do that. The media and commentators are fair weather friends. Those who praise him for 'responsible batting' and 'curbing risks' would turn around and question his strike rate (quite justifiably at that) if he falters.


  1. It was quite a rough start for the team (covered it too at my blog -albeit in different light :-) ). Hope this can get the head out of dhoni's and the team management's arse and make them see that IPL is not the beginning and end of all that is important in this world!

    The handling of I.P, Y.P in the national team makes it very strange. I wonder sometimes if the balance is not there in the side - we've got a team full of "stars" (real or paper), and very few role players. Or atleast, no roles have been defined yet. That is something which doesn't make sense.

    If you see winning teams in general, they get the roles right. Gilly the hitter, gibbs more steady, rohit+ symmo the impetus.
    This applies for any sport - take Barca: Xavi + iniesta for the creativity and interlinking passing with messi (centre forward or drop back), Henry on the wing purely for speed to cut into the box, Eto as a poacher only. You don't TAKE Eto and put him on the midfield, just like you don't take Iniesta and play him alone up front.

    Somehow the Indian team doesn't define the roles well. We often look like we try to accomodate everyone into the team, and lose out on a theme (for the lack of a better word). Let's see how long that goes on.

    Strike rate is probably one of the most under-rated statistic around , coming up with a blog post on that soon with some data.

  2. I think Dhoni and YP will be better off if they have confirmed batting spots.. Raina at 3, Dhoni at 6, YP at 7.. shud not tinker with this.

  3. Fark - You got it right. Accomodation seems to be the idea. Else IP would not be a starter for me in this team.

    Your post on JO was thoroughly entertaining and on the spot.

    Q - Thanks for the comments. Raina at 3 seems the way to go, though I believe YP would be better off with the insurance of MSD after him.

    BTW, your posts are almost clairvoyant. Enjoyed them. Esp your take on Chris Gayle's effort.

  4. Thanks man.

    U might be right abt YP.