Monday, February 28, 2011

India vs England - Thrilling Finish

And so the World Cup 2011 got off its meandering, lumbering start with a thriller between two sides that could well end up in the final for the way they are currently playing. India coming off a big win against Bangladesh which did expose a bit of its bowling inadequacies and England which came off a creditable win against Netherlands who walloped them for a massive 291, a match which underlined England's bowling inadequacies as well but showed the character in the team and its batting. I always feel that it is bets to come off a tough match in the initial rounds while going into a big tournament like this because it helps to quickly shake off any demons. An easy match on the other hand always leaves you feeling that you have not been tested fully.

So for me England and Australia to some extent did come off reasonably tighter games. India was relying on its famed batting and appeared slightly unprepared at the way the English came into the game. But this match would have woken up the Indians for sure because it stretched them and they can now tighten the loose areas. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses - India has a far stronger batting line up than England, the best batting side in the tournament, a reasonably good bowling side which is their main weakness and possibly a slightly older lot of cricketers on the field. England has a batting side that relies a lot of bits and pieces contributions apart from Strauss, Pietersen and Collingwood, a smart and varied bowling side that keeps opponents guessing, a younger and more athletic fielding side. Going by its recent successes, England is working well as a team, and that showed yesterday again - you cannot write it off, has a wily and thinking coach in Andy Flower. India has the Superman captain who never seems to get anything wrong - like almost pulling off a win in yesterday's game which was to all accounts lost after that fantastic partnership between Strauss and Bell.

India's capability to score 300s against any opposition is fascinating to watch. And they are doing it without breaking a sweat. On a good day we look good for 400 which might happen in this tournament. Tendulkar looked really good and composed and hopefully will sustain this same focus and form through the tournament and in the big games. Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan - man what a lineup. And every one of them going about it so professionally. Zaheer was a revelation with the old ball - to get two well set batsmen, specially Strauss in the way he did was amazing. He is difficult to go after and that is something they should do only with the new ball - with the reversing old ball and his variations, he is lethal. Munaf is predictable and the danger of him being hoicked over the ropes was always there as he bowls straight and honest. What surprised me of Chawla's last over was the length he bowled - until the last ball which was probably the right length. England almost had this in their grasp, then lost it, until the lower order restored justice.

This match had to end in a tie. I expect more such encounters with South Africa, Australia, Lanka and  Pakistan, all of which look good right now.

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