September 29, 2009

Washout hurts India, takes Pakistan into semifinals


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Just the other day one of the most respected names in the banking circles, in a one-to-one chat, shared his gut feeling that Pakistan might win the ongoing Champions Trophy in South Africa.

When enquired about the reason of this thought coming to his mind he very candidly pointed out that the way things were falling in place for them there’s a great possibility of the trophy coming their way.

That discussion had taken place earlier in the day in Karachi on September 28, quite a few hours before the start of the Australia-India tie at the Super Sport Park in Centurion.

Little did I know, at least, that Pakistan would be progressing to the semifinals of the event without worrying for the outcome of their last league fixture against Australia! How could have anyone predicted a washout game when none of the previous matches had been affected by rain.

It was a do-or-die situation for India and the composition of their team suggested that they were not taking any chances. They had packed their side with five specialist bowlers, having dropped the struggling Yousuf Pathan.

The spin bowling department was reinforced with the induction of ‘leggie’ Amit Mishra who was right on the money from the first ball he bowled. He could have been even more lethal if a catch was not dropped off his bowling in the slips quite early in his spell. Harbhajan Singh was retained on past reputation because he deserved to be axed or rested after his below-par performance against Pakistan which cost India the game.

The tale of horror continued for the Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni because his fastest bowler, Ishant Sharma, looked completely out of sorts in the crunch game. Just as you can’t set a field for bad bowling obviously you can’t be prepared for your premier speedster to lose his way so dramatically.

Dhoni must have been a concerned man as nearly every Australian batsman was occupying the crease and doing the business fearlessly. India could have pulled it back in the final overs but still they would have been chasing something close to 300 if not more, had the rains not disrupted the game.

On the other hand if the rains had stopped after a couple of hours, India could have been set a target on DL method in which the asking rate would have been higher but the number of overs would have been considerably reduced.

I can never recall the rains having come to India’s rescue and as it had happened in the past on numerous occasions the match could not resume much to the dismay of their supporters.

The only beneficiary of the washout game between Australia and India was Pakistan who acquired complete peace of mind by going into the semifinals. The situation could have been tense for Pakistan if India defeated Australia in which case they would have been required to perform well in their last league outing against Australia.

India are not out of the tournament yet theoretically but the chances of them moving ahead in the prevailing circumstances are remote.

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