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Sight Screen

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Chesterfield's report card

Trevor Chesterfield in his post match analysis presents a report card on the Indian performance.
I notice that almost every report out there (Here's Dileep Premachandran's) gives a sizeable chunk of the credit to the Sri Lankan spinners especially in comparison with India's; the figure cited most often in support (a couple of television commentators, including the inimitable Srinath, were also heard referring to this) is, as Dileep puts it,
Vaas, on his return to the side, showed why he has been second only to the peerless Wasim Akram as a left-arm pace bowler in the modern era, but it was Muralitharan and Upul Chandana - who picked up 4 for 73 between them in 19.5 overs - that authored the decisive twist in this tale, utterly outbowling India's own spin combination of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
The Indian duo went wicketless in their 20 overs, conceding 104 runs in the process, and were comfortably milked by the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene and Russel Arnold. Kumble strayed onto the legs too often, and was also far too short, while Harbhajan appeared to be a pale imitation of the great Muralitharan.
I was looking at the figures for the Lankan spinners. Chandana, bowling to Dravid, conceded 18 off 22; 7 off 10 to Yuvraj, 11/15 to Kaif. Muralitharan went 6/16 to Dravid, 10/16 to Yuvraj, 6/11 to Kaif.
Harbhajan Singh bowled to *only* three batsmen - as it happens, the three top scorers. He went 11 runs off 14 balls to Jayasuriya, 16 off 31 to Mahela, 14/15 to Mahela and 41 off 60 overall; not bad at all considering this is an off spinner bowling (under perennial pressure, since he didn't get to bowl to the tail) to a team that practises against the spin of Murali himself. Given that, I'd think it's a touch unfair to club Bajji with Kumble as a collective (Anil, by the way, also bowled to the three top batsmen -- and went 19 runs off 16 balls against Sanath, 28 off 28 against Mahela, and 14 off 17 against Arnold).
The real problem for Anil (thanks to bowling way too often short, and on leg to the left handers -- which reminds me, whatever happened to going round the wicket?) was that he not only gave away fours, but couldn't check the singles either (26 singles, 6 twos, one three and five fours).
The point about Sri Lanka's fielding adding to the pressure was well taken -- but I'd think more than the Lankan spinners, this result hinged on India's poor catching and ground fielding in the first innings, and poor shot selection in the second.

8 Comments:

  • Prem: You are bang on target about the dropped catches and the shoddy fielding being the deciding factor.
    In international matches, it's not the extra batsman or the extra bowler that makes the difference, sure once in a while we will see a match where one player will dominate and win the match but over a longer period it's the team that makes fewer mistakes will win greater number of matches.
    Everyone from Chappell to Wright to Dravid keeps talking about doing the basics right which is nothing but taking all catches, getting the crucial run outs and attacking ground fielding. Somehow this is not getting implemented in the actual game scenario.
    At the international stage the difference between the sides is minimal and finally the team that makes fewer mistakes and keeps it tight for 100 overs will win most often than not.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 11:21  

  • granted that fielding was the major cause of the big total; it was not unattainble, infact we were in the drivers seat till the last 10 overs mainly due to the impetus provided by sehwag. i dont have anything against how they played murali, but we did not try to dominate dilshan, who is in the same league as sehwag.
    the fact is in this team apart from gang and sehwag there is nobody who can dominate a quality spinner and since those two got out fast we had scored only 5-6 boundaries from 7-40 overs while there were 10 in the first 6.

    the singles did not come too frequently too in the gang-dravid partership when infact we wre in a very good position. i beleive that partership turned out ot be our undoing as we had 2 of the most experienced batsmen in reasonable form wasting a lot of balls when we could have easily carried on at 6/over with singles and the occassional 4

    By Blogger JD, at 11:25  

  • Is there any statistics showing the performance of sub-continent bowlers like chandana and jayasurya on foreign soil? Somebody brought up the point other day that srilanka play at home more than they do abroad. How true is that? Srilanka have won 30 out the 44 matches played of late but how many were won outside srilanka?
    Changing tracks, its been a while since I watched murali bowl and I know this is beating a dead horse but gosh, murali does indeed chuck!!

    By Blogger ganesh77, at 11:25  

  • Continuing from my previous comment....
    I believe GC should cut down on the conventional preparations like net practice, drills etc.. and try to make the players simulate actual match conditions. Ideally, they should be playing practice matches amongst themselves and work on the fact the players stay focussed and concentrate for the 100 over period. He should jot down every missed catch or half chance, run out misses, mis fieldings or stolen runs and then work on decreasing them over a period of time. Iam sure the effects will start showing up in actual matches.
    I think some unconventional coaching practices is the way forward for this team.
    Otherwise, we will just keep talking about doing the basics right blah..blah.. but it will never get translated into actual performance on the field.

    By Blogger Mr. V, at 11:27  

  • there can be tons of analysis and formulae for success, but the simple truth is that if the players aren't up to the task of wanting to win then nothing can help.

    How many of us actually thought that India had a good chance going into the match? I don't want to say that the players aren't motivated enough but when you see a match where Bret Lee and Kasprowich put their heads down and decide to win and nearly pull it off, and in this match we see players throw their wickets away and go from a position of relative strength to defeat. This only tells us two things, either the players aren't talented enough or they don't have enough self belief, either of which is automatic grounds for being thrown out of the team.

    There aren't any overnight miracles that will help, but the senior members of the team and GC have to sit down and chart a plan that will bring about this change.

    By Blogger Shams, at 11:37  

  • Prem,

    Clearly, the Indian team thought process and subsequently, its actions on the field, are in chaos mode.

    Some points to be made:

    - Understanding of the one-day format: Whether we play a 7-4/6-5 or a 5-1-5 combination, ultimately, the root cause is a worrying lack-of-understanding by the Indian regarding the one-day format.

    - Lack of Individual Role Understanding:

    1. Kaif's greatest asset while batting is his ability to run singles and keep the strike rotating. Hence, his usefulness to the team would appear to be of most value in the middle overs. Yet, he has always batted mostly in the later overs, and his strike rate is quite below international standards.

    2. Yuvraj would be best used as a number 5, 6 or 7 batsman. The best example of this was in the WC-2003 run chase against Pakisthan. His strengths are in rotating the strike, and also boundary scoring shots. HHence, he should always bat after Kaif and not vice versa.

    3. Dravid is our ideal number 3, and should be persisted as captain. His understanding of the test and one-day format is second to none. Team India's success in major games: Vs. Aus 2001 (in India), Eng 2002, Pak WC 2003, NZ 2003 (in India), Down Under 2004, Pak 2004 and the one off win against Aus (in India)were in fact, due to his contributions. We need to maximize his batting utilities. If only he would take back the infamous God, Ganguly and off-side quote he delivered so many years ago, and ask Saurav to ship up or ship out, it would help us much.

    4. Utilization of New Players Reina/Dhoni/Mongia/Rao/Yadav

    Clearly, it was a sub-par use of these exciting options. Mongia/Yadav have the potential to be the multi-dimensional players we are looking for. Mongia has been ignored regardless of the fact that he has spent a fair time in England improving his skills. JP Yadav was never given an outing, and Rao/Reina/Dhoni were clearly not aware of the fact that they were representing their country, and not some local team.

    5. Awareness of Responsibilities: Our selected players need to have an essential awareness of what it means to represent one's country, the honor and privilege involved and ultimately, the need for them to be ambassdors on the field, not on TV. The lack of improvement in 3 years inspite of the better-than-ever professional support available is surely galling,and demotivational to their supporters. Say what one might about Saurav/Sachin & Rahul, they had a fierce pride in their early years to represent the country to the best of their abilities. Would it be right to have Zaheer/Harbhajan/Pathan/ Yuvraj/ Kaif and Dhoni sing the national anthem everyday? Perhaps, that will provide them the confidence (Vitamin C, eh?) to go out there and give their BEST?

    By Blogger Mahesh, at 12:24  

  • You are right Prem. I think Dileep gave too much credit to Sri Lanka in his Cricinfo article. India lost the final more than Sri Lanka won it. 100 odd runs at 6 an over in the last 15 overs with 8 wkts in hand - I bet on any decent team winning from that position irrespective of how much the opposition knows the conditions. It was a pathetic surrender.

    By Blogger Mohan, at 13:46  

  • Prem..no doubt catching was the main cause. But I think, there is another analysis to be done. What went wrong chasing the score we were given (and forget how they got there in first place) ? There I think main causes were (a) A tight planning relying on Dhoni to compulsarily have atleast a cameo (b) Wrong batting order...yuv going in consolidation phase...kaif in hitting phase (c) Ofcourse stupid runouts...but those happen in pressure situations, no ?

    By Blogger worma, at 14:15  

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