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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cricket Tri-Series: Rotate, Experiment And…Tie!


 Winning the toss and electing to bat first Sri Lanka made 236 for the loss of 9 wickets in allotted fifty overs. India replied making 236 runs for the loss of 9 wickets in allotted fifty overs. So, it was India’s first tied one-day international (ODI) cricket match against Sri Lanka and total six against other teams. It was also the first ever tied ODI at the Adelaide oval in Australia. Both the teams earned two points each at the fifth Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series played today.

It was the perfect thriller swinging either way all the time down the wire. On a flat and slow wicket Sri Lanka made a modest 236 despite cruising at one stage with Chandimal and Jaywardene in full swing. Indian pacer Vinay Kumar again did an excellent job by capturing 3 wickets and the Indian fielding effort was also commendable. So far in the series, Sri Lanka has not been able to put its batting in top gear as evident in the earlier two matches it played and lost.

Midway in the Indian innings if you put Gambhir out the batting was just dismal with three top batsmen Tendulkar, Kohli and Rohit getting out at the seemingly obsessed score of 15 each. Raina and Jadeja failed too. Captain cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni, like in the earlier match against Australia, played the sheet anchor’s role keeping one end going till the end.

India seemed to be cruising to victory at 178 for 4 in the 41st over and at 91 Gambhir seemed to be heading towards his well-deserved century that he missed in the last match. But at that very moment Gambhir got run out due to a horrible call by Dhoni for a non-existent single. Gambhir could not regain his crease and the ball broke the stumps at the non-striker’s end breaking his and so many Indian hearts. After the match Dhoni acknowledged it as his fateful decision that cost India the match.

Sri Lanka, flooring a few crucial catches, came back roaring into the match and started pouncing on the ball making run-making most difficult. The asking rate kept around at the manageable level of under six an over kept on rising—to 7, 8, 9 and nearing 10. Wickets kept on falling too at regular intervals. Nine runs were needed in the last over and four off the last ball. Dhoni managed three and there was a historic tie.

Meantime rotation continued and this time it combined with even experimentation. As feared, Tendulkar came back in Sehwag’s place and Irfan Pathan was inducted for the first time inexplicably in place of in-form Zaheer Khan. Due to this weird rotation top three batsmen are not being able to get used to playing and so failing consistently. Gambhir capitalized on his two consecutive chances playing pivotal innings on both occasions and maybe he will be out next time—against Australia! And, Team India is yet to ensure its place in the finals!

For a cricket team in its worst ever overseas performance phase winning should have been the only priority and for that you must always put in your best possible team. For what reason? Only for playing Rohit Sharma persistently, consistently and insistently in al the matches till he makes a substantive score? I have been saying this again and again and maybe almost earning the tag of an India cricket fanatic!

No! You may be going great-guns for being able to watch a classic and historic tied thriller! But winning is always the best result. Particularly for India--at this stage or any stage. And, India have in them to win, but not allowed to do so. For some obscure reasons that only Indian cricket is capable of concocting. 

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