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Sight Screen

Monday, January 23, 2006

The curious case of Shoaib Akthar

Osman Samiuddin's story on Cricinfo, incorporating Bob Woolmer's comments, underlined for me the most curious part of play on the evening of day three. Check this comment out:
India's collapse post-lunch, when they lost four wickets for 45 runs in just under 11 overs was due in some part to a blistering six-over spell by Shoaib Akhtar. But as he tired, Dhoni and Pathan both settled down and Woolmer rued the possibilities another two overs from Shoaib would have brought. "I don't know why he didn't bowl more. You have to ask him that question. I wasn't out in the middle and I haven't asked the captain. Maybe two more overs in that spell might have turned the game, but you never know. But as an ex-cricketer I wouldn't have liked to be out there facing him. As a coach of the team, I would say it was a very good spell."

I personally don't know if two more overs could have changed the match -- I mean, short of crystal-ball gazing, who knows? The point though is that Akthar was bowling at blistering pace at the time; Dhoni was counter-attacking furiously. When you have something like that going on, one or the other combatant has to give, at some point -- either the bowler loses it entirely, or the batsman makes the one fatal error. Seemed strange, at the time, when he went off the attack; made me wonder, as I remember doing in the WC in South Africa when he went off after just the one opening over, whether he really has the stomach for a fight.

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