Saturday, March 12, 2011

India Out-Choke South Africa

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India conspired to deny South Africa their title of the ultimate chokers by laying claim to it themselves. In fact, they choked twice in a match and seemed to dare South Africa to out-do that. Robin Peterson decided that he couldn't do worse and robbed Nehra of 13 runs in the final over to let India be the undisputed choke champions.

Sehwag started India's rot by giving away his wicket right after the first few powerplays were done. After scoring 70 scorching runs, he could be forgiven for thinking that he'd laid the platform for others to carry on. Tendulkar and Gambhir motored on and did great until they decided to chance it with a powerplay. Soon the team teetered on the brink of doom.

Sachin holed out in a bid to move it along when there appeared to be no real need to rush any more than the rate at which they were going. He too could be forgiven for thinking that he'd done enough by scoring more than a 100. In walked Yusuf Pathan in what can only be described as a desire to get all the golden eggs from the duck at once.

Gambhir forgot his role and tried hard about 3 times to lose his wicket before he finally manufactured some madness. The rest of the story is too bizarre to recount. As I had said in an earlier post, Virat Kohli's destruction is complete. He is like that promising young soldier who is sent to the war front to protect the senior generals. Much like Abhimanyu was sent to break into the formation for the rest of the senior pandavas to follow. Crazy analogy perhaps, but this is a sad story in the making.

In order to let Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Gambhir have the best overs, Kohli is jokered around the batting order. The poor kid is not old enough to adapt - as hard as he might try. It appears that Dhoni and others have successfully killed this goose that would have laid golden eggs for a long time. He might want to seek out Irfan Pathan in the "what-could-have-been" closet.

For a while, it appeared that Amla and Kallis were readying South Africa for another choke. They refused to move it along in spite of clear indications that it could get harder towards the end. But South Africa seems inflexible enough that they believe it's De Villiers and Duminy's job to accelerate and they simply will not do it before that.

Well De Villiers, Duminy, Du Plessis and Botha kept SA in the hunt and Dhoni gifted the game by bringing Nehra in to bowl the last over. De Villiers, especially, is in a run of form that's awesome. Duminy was motoring along fine too. It took two smart Harbhajans to get rid of them. But the Saffers have depth and it was used to good effect here, unlike India's depth which was related to sinking.

India might crash out of the quarter-finals if they don't fine tune their strategy. Unfortunately, it appears that Kohli may need to warm the benches now for Raina. Ashwin needs to come in for Nehra. Hopefully, Dhoni realizes that there is no need to send Pathan higher anymore given Yuvraj and Dhoni's ability to play in multiple gears.

All isn't lost, but India's old ghost of choking is not exorcised yet.


Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

How many times did both sides choke today?

This shows that England also choked against India, as England should have won a couple of weeks ago.

But South Africa choked against England last week.

Now I'm really confused, who is the biggest chokers?

To further confuse the situation, Bangladesh choked against England on Thursday, but still won.

How the hell can that be?

Golandaaz said...

It was a Choker's Ball

But a great game! The batting power play is a great thing.

AA said...

Why is it UNFORTUNATE that Kohli, Yusuf or anyone else is booted out from what you have seen??? What EXACTLY have they done and what do you EXPECT from them in the remaining matches- or, are you waiting 'till India itself is booted out???

Clearly, these guys are out of their depth and have been pretty much hyped (eg. Kapil Dev- we shouldn't drop Yusuf under any circumstances). Its strange how Raina hasn't played at #4 in the last 2 years and now India NEEDS a Kohli or Yusuf in those positions!!! Bizarre, Strange, Amazing.

I remember Sachin saying after the NZ tour (2008) that that team was the best India batting team he had played with. So:

I'm disappointed because here I was thinking that with the quota guys like DK, RS, MV away, India will easily find the best XI. Instead, we see Raina muleing Kohli in practice, on the instructions of Kirsten!!! (Apparently, Kirsten wants to show everyone that Kohli is the big boss, is going places).

Lets recap: Kohli and Yusuf with ZEROs still have a huge number of fanboys. Sort of reminds me of Ganguly fanboys or more recently, of DK/ Badri/MV fanboys (& who are currently engaging war on behalf of Sreesanth/ Ashwin)!!

I hope you understand. Virat Kohli deserves a place because of his fielding (which can get a wicket per match) - but he shouldn't be hyped up as many are doing.

Anonymous said...

Can't call India's pathetic, mindless batting collapse a choke... coz there was no pressure. It was just a pathetic, mindless collapse.

Nehra'a last over is arguably a choke, due to the pressure. But I think he's just undercooked at the moment... back after an injury break, and he was brought back to bowl 1 over after a very long gap.

I'm pretty pissed with happenings, being an Indian fan. But gotta feel happy for Graeme Smith... poor guy keeps seeing his team lose close games, and then keeps getting picked on by the media for choking.

Unknown said...

Vidooshak, I don't think Kohli's career is destroyed yet. If Dhoni is sensible enough, he will use Kohli properly in the remaining matches.

I was surprised with our batting in the Powerplay 3. I remember the matches when Sachin scored his 163 r.h. v. NZ and 200* v. SA, where he batted through the Powerplays beautifully. In those 2 matches, he did not play a single shot in front of the wickets for the first 2 overs of the Batting PP. He just used the pace of the bowler to find the gap usually between square leg and fine leg. And he did it with his wrists, without resorting to go across the line.

Once he had put the pressure on the bowlers, they automatically gave him the length to go over the top in front of square on both sides and he made merry for the rest of the Batting PP. After those 2 matches, I thought that finally someone has cracked the puzzle of how to bat during that period.

But his 2 dismissals against England and SA suggest that even he isn't completely sure about it.

And Dhoni needs to stop treating Yusuf as a Batting PP specialist. He is just like the other batsmen with a capability to hit more balls regularly when it comes to spinners. So to send him at No. 4 in a Powerplay situation with Steyn and Morkel in a spell (they are no spinners!) seemed a tad unwise to me then and there!

The last bit, Dhoni should have a good look at his own batting as well. He first took strike in the 41st over. 12 singles and 9 dot balls is not a good enough output even if the rest of your side is falling apart! He made no attempt to play an aggressive stroke even at the very end when he was running out of partners!

Vidooshak said...

AA & Shridhar -

Kohli must now be benched to achieve any semblance of balance. Kohli is more an insurance against a top order collapse than for a late surge. The top order can be trusted. As far as R. Ashwin, I can't understand why he is warming the benches. So what if we have two very good off-spinners? Sreesanth -- I'm not sure he's any better than Munaf or Nehra.

I'm a Kohli fanboy because he has scored 3 centuries in winning chases. The boy has stuff.

tracerbullet007 said...

Kohli is too classy a player to be written off so quickly....Personally, his position shouldn't be tampered with...let the top 4 be fixed slots...then 5, 6 and 7 can be rotated according to the situation...bringing in Raina now would create a sense of panic and the opposition will pounce on it..
As for choking, if India don't win the World Cup, we have at least that, right?

Vidooshak said...

bullet - I've not been sure India can win the World Cup. It's not panic or choking. It's related to team balance. Roles and players for those roles. My money right today is on Australia. It could change tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I'm still baffled by Indian Team's performance. No lesson learnt from England Match. WHy not Tendulkar being used as a filler bowler? He has broken the partnerships on various occasions when no regular bowler was effective.
It is high time when Dhoni sits back and paves a way for a new captain. I am wondering what are Indian Selectors doing to rectify the problem. Dhoni never consults his team mates; his arrogance is ruining the team spirit. He doesn't deserve to retain the captaincy.