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Sight Screen

Monday, November 28, 2005

Indian innings, overs 1-10

A facet of India’s bowling (the downside was the nearly 2 extra overs, and the 10 runs, given through 8 wides and two no balls) was that there was just 15 fours and one six in the entire innings (163 dot balls, 110 singles). That (especially when you consider Agarkar’s off par showing in his first three overs, argued discipline of a high order.
South Africa, at the start of the Indian response, wasn’t quite as successful. Sachin Tendulkar began with a flicked four through midwicket off Ntini; an over later, he used the crease superbly to convert a not so short, not so far outside off ball into the slot for a forcing square drive that left point standing. Sehwag, in the 5th over, then joined in with two screaming drives through the off side off successive Pollock deliveries. In the 6th over, Tendulkar uncorked a shot that one thought had been packed away – onto the back foot and onto his toes, to punch Ntini’s 138.2k delivery off the back foot through extra cover on the up.
Off the first ball of the 7th, to a ball short and on off, Sewhag crunched it, on the up and over cover, for four. The next ball was a bouncer, half aggression half frustration – and Sehwag tennis-smashed it over square leg for six. The very next ball, a good one at that in the off corridor, was again swatted, this time over point, a bounce and over the boundary. In the 10th over, a wide one from Ntini had Tendulkar flashing, with all he had going into the shot, to carry over the slip and to third man for four more.
Earlier, the first over of the Indian reply was characterized by steady bowling – and some brilliant fielding; the latter appeared to tell on Gautam Gambhir who, against any other fielding side, would have ended the over on 8 off 6 balls as opposed to the 0/6 he actually got.
That got the supersub out of the game as early as the second over; an angling delivery across him saw the batsman find the top edge on an attempt to force the ball onto the less populated leg side against the angle and the seam movement.
Sehwag, who in the 5th over was lucky a checked push popped into and out of Pollock’s hand on the return crease, then had a bit of a bummer when a ball hitting off, short on length and climbing and darting all the way back to leg stump, beat the attempted flick and took the pad. The ball was sliding down leg side when Darryl Harper’s finger went up, to put Pollock out of his misery after 14 runs had been clobbered off the first three balls of the over.
By then, though, the ask had been reduced, somewhat brutally, to 176 – and Sehwag (27 off 20) via his brief cameo had set it up nicely for his mates. India’s run rate at that point, of 6.42, was by a long margin the highest in the game at that point; the highest South Africa managed was 4.42 in the final over of the game (next highest 4.37 at the end of the 8th). At that point, Sachin was going 19 off 14 – and looking slow. More importantly, Sehwag’s calculated aggression savaged the most dangerous of the Proteas bowlers, Shaun Pollock, to the tune of 26 runs off just 17 deliveries and ensured that Pollock could not settle into his optimum line and length.
At the end of 10, India 57/2 against South Africa’s 41/2; given the moderate target, the chasing side has thus far played the first phase of its response to optimum advantage, and now know they can win by simply batting through.

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