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Sight Screen

Monday, November 28, 2005

Overs 11-20

The ‘enigma’ of Ajit Agarkar (He has the best record among Indian seamers; the best strike rate; the fastest to 50; yada yada) has, in this game, presented its share of problems for Rahul Dravid.
Irfan Pathan’s first spell of 7-1-12-2 needed just steady, disciplined bowling at the other end to help India turn the screws down real tight; Agarkar going 15 in his first spell of two overs; then conceding 10 in the 15th when he was brought back for an over (typically, one four ball short and wide outside off, one four ball angled down leg stump, another four ball on middle and leg that was reduced to two only because of some brilliant outfield work by Pathan) didn’t really help matters.

Mercifully, his third comeback in four overs turned out to be a maiden, and he followed it up with an over in which there was just one run – the prime difference being that in this particular comeback phase of 1 run off 12 deliveries, he slowed the pace down and focused on bowling wicket to wicket, with no fancy frills.
Dravid, on another note, needs to remember to signal his powerplays when drinks are taken after 15; this is the second time in this home season that the drinks break has seen the captain forget to call for it.
An over from Murli Karthik, and one from Bajji, during this phase merely underlines the problem – spinners on this track will be really effective only once the ball gets a touch older and softer.
South Africa, during this phase, has been intent on consolidation, with both batsmen playing out a lot of dot balls; to their credit, they’ve put away the gimme stuff whenever it has been offered, and the Indian bowlers offered enough of those to ensure that the Proteas progressed from 41/2 in 10, to 76/2 at the end of 20.
35 runs and no wickets in this phase means you have to, marginally, give it to the Indians if only because they have kept the runs to 3.5 and are now one over short of completing their power plays.

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