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Sight Screen

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Cricinfo previews

Osman Samiuddin talks of the sheer predictability of pre-match press conferences.
Pre-match press conferences should generally be taken with pinches of salt. In them the pitches are never poor, always sporting and with a little something for everyone. Team compositions are never announced, only inferred. No one player holds the key to anything, all players in the opposing camp are vital and unless a real minnow is involved, both teams start evenly. The toss is always important but never unhealthily so and first sessions are always crucial but not critical.
The first question pitched to Inzamam-ul-Haq regarding the state of the pitch was banal enough but because it wasn't about goodwill, hospitality and political ties, it told a story in itself. For the first time in three series, the cricket takes precedence and it hasn't come soon enough because both teams are playing some decidedly competitive cricket.

Considering the point I was making in the previous post, about Ganguly providing a stock bowling option India actually needs, Osman makes a similar point about Pakistan's choice of one of its openers:
For continuity's sake more than anything else, Shoaib Malik, as Inzamam and Bob Woolmer have been keen to assert, is likely to retain his position as opener. Against a long and strong batting line-up, his bowling will provide one of two much-needed things - relief for the main bowlers and occasional partnership-breaking potential.

The Indian team meanwhile has been playing its cards very close to its chest, and that is apparent even in this preview by Siddharth Vaidhyanathan, which has nothing new to offer. The pitch preview, meanwhile, offers more evidence that spinners, not quicks, could well be the decisive factor especially in the back end of the game.
A bone dry surface with prominent vertical cracks and one wondered what all the fuss was about. Inzamam-ul-Haq termed it "a sporting wicket", adding that it should offer help to both the fast and slow men; Rahul Dravid stressed on the cracks on the surface, hinting that spin might be key; Greg Chappell stuck his neck out to say that he thought the pitch would support the spinners from the third day itself; while Bob Woolmer spoke about the moisture beneath the surface, that may cause the ball to grip and turn.

Read that in tandem with this bit about the sunshine and diminishing fog, and what's the betting you are talking of a pitch that could begin to 'go' by the third morning?
The last two days have been pleasantly warm, with a mild breeze ensuring against any discomfort, and the bright sunshine, since around 8am this morning, eliminated any threat of fog.

Elsewhere, the usual roundup of quotes from Woolmer and Inzy, and from Dravid here, who says he is happy with everything -- the pitch, the ground, the weather, his team, his new born baby...
Finally, statistics have little direct bearing on what is to come, but still this stats package has points of interest -- especially on the role of spinners, and of the toss.


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