November 28, 2010

India haunted once more by tail-enders


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

It was far from convincing performance from the new look Indian outfit as they displayed the same chronic weaknesses that had haunted their illustrious predecessors while overcoming an uncerain and shaky New Zealand side in the first of the five One-day Internationals at the Nehru Stadium in the Eastern town of Guwahati on November 28.

Any side batting first having scored 169 for two at the end of 32 overs would have been expected to score in the excess of 300 in 50 overs. And if you have an inexperienced bowling attack like the Black Claps, sans their premier bowler and skipper Daniel Vettori, playing in the sub-continent even the possibilities of 350 could not have been ruled out.

But as we have seen over the years in far too many matches the Indians make heavy weather of the death overs when the other teams take it as an opportunity of scoring thick and fast even if they had wobbled in the earlier part of the innings.

Not the Indians. More often than not they collapse in the phase of the innings meant for collecting quick runs. The same happened yet again. The platform was set for a real big score but they squandered the golden opportunity by getting bowled out with one over remaining.

I tell u even Bangladesh would have scored many more than 278 in 50 overs against this New Zealand side if they had brought up the 200 of their innings in the 38th over. If you have the likes of the well-set Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina out in the middle and the master blaster Yusuf Pathan padded up to get in next there are only remote possibilities of the total not crossing 300 if not 330.

The young Indians, led by Gautam Gambhir, proved that they have inherited many if not all the chronic weaknesses of the past. I think that of all the teams playing ODIs only India have this capacity of throwing away after such fabulous starts.

Only they could have lost six wickets for 26 runs when they were in complete command of the situation as their unfancied rivals, having being whitewashed by Bangladesh earlier this season, had run short of all ideas.

Kohli scored his first ODI century batting first, his fourth overall and second in a row after that superlative one against Australia. Openers Murali Vijay and Gambhir had done well to negotiate weather the storm as they prevented the repeat of India’s sensational collapse batting first at the same venue last season.

Gambhir had only 278 runs to play with that was at least 30 to 40 runs short what he should have had in the bank. Yet with the kind of bowling resoorces India had there was not much cause for him to worry even while defending the eventual total.

Despite the horrible catchng, that has remained the hallmark of India all along, their bowlers put in the extra effort to make amends and the game remained well and truly in their control until another familiar fightback by the tail-enders.

New Zealand were dead and burried when they lost their eighth wicket at 169 with more than 100 needed in less than 15 overs. The 67-run stand ninth-wicket stand between Kyle Mills and Nathan McCullum reminded many of the similar acts by the tail-enders against India.

Although it was a matter of only two wickets the match became wide open as 41 runs were needed in five overs even though they had to be bowled by experienced pace trio of Ashish Nehra, Shanitkumaran Sreesanth and Munaf Patel. In the end it needed a couple of deliveries from Sreesanth to wrap up the issue.

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