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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pakistan beat Pakistan while India won their first match in Cricket World Cup 2015.

To begin the Cricket World Cup 2015 campaign, when India made 300 at the loss of 7 wickets in 50 overs, it was more of a commendable bowling performance by Pakistan in the death to concede only 84 runs in 10 overs for 5 wickets than India's flourish with the bat!

However, unlike bowling, Pakistan's fielding remained below average, especially the butter-fingered catching that allowed Virat Kohli to duly capitalise on the opportunity to produce a very useful ton. That innings not only helped him win the man of the match award but also helped India set a stiff target for Pakistan.

On the other hand, Suresh Raina played his part rather handsomely for a knock that was the nucleus of Indian innings. Though, for that, Misbah's captaincy should be put under the scanner in order to know why he let his spinners bowl to Raina... providing him with suitable lengths and angles that he would love, always, being a southpaw to free his arms, effortlessly.

Wish Misbah could learn one or two things from Dhoni who immediately removed Ashwin, the off-spinner, from the attack not to give Misbah even the slightest of opportunities to hit the ball straightway through or over mid-wicket.

Nevertheless, with the ball, Wahab Riaz was exceptional because of the discipline he showed throughout. 

In spite of Pakistan's tight bowling in the last 10 overs, it was Indian think-tank's thoughtlessness that didn't help India get extra 15-20 runs which should have been there in the scorecard. 

If Rahane was sent ahead of Jadeja, given his cricketing sense, which Jadeja lacks, he could've rotated the strike and thereby let Dhoni face crucial 5 balls to slog at. And who knows, some vital runs might have been scored off them in the process! 

Against a side that doesn't have a fragile batting unit unlike Pakistan does, those 15-20 runs might be deciding factors in the end. 

Albeit, the match was on, evenly poised, and a real battle of nerves was on the cards between clueless Indian bowling and listless Pakistani batting. 

And nobody perhaps expected Pakistan to win unless there were some miracles from Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq... using their willow power.

But, the moment Pakistan sent Younis Khan to open, Pakistan went down to 'zero for one' even before the start of the innings.  

It was kind of suicide because Younis is the guy who plays spin remarkably well and can rotate the strike at will, even playing within the 'V'. Plus, one shouldn't overestimate a batsman's capability to open an innings based on the runs he made and makes on subcontinent wickets, and in Abu Dhabi.

At No. 3, Haris Sohail was off the block in no real time, but, for reasons unknown, got into the shell, which looked more self-inflicted to anything to do with the Indian bowling in operation, to put pressure on Pakistan and destabilise the momentum which was constantly required in a chase, especially when the target was 301.

Not to mention, shot selections are more important than shot executions in any form of cricket. Because cricket is after all 'the game of judgements'. For that, one must understand and accept own limitations, as deeply as possible. Given the height of Ahmed Shehzad, if he tries to square drive a short ball being on the front foot, 90% chance would be there for him to slice the ball, helplessly, to get caught at point or at gully on pitches that offer considerable bounce and carry to the white cricket ball.

Sohaib Maqsood's head should be scanned in order to get a confirmation on the presence of a brain within his skull. Because if someone can think, he will not fish outside the off-stump on his arrival at the crease by playing away from his body while the opponent skipper anticipating him to do that only, and thus positioned a first slip for an edge.

Umar Akmal should definitely consider himself unlucky because the 3rd umpire gave an absolutely bizarre decision - even after using all technologies. That particular decision was awful, to some extent shameful, more so, as a benefit of doubt should always be given to the batsman, as per the law of cricket.

What Shahid Afridi did, only he could and can do that. His cricket has always been devoid of thinking, so an application from him to find gaps in the field was not expected. If that is understood, it won't be hard to justify why one needs to play a rash and lofted shot to a full-toss, while simply playing it along the ground or chipping it, gently, over the in-field one can get a boundary, as there was none in the deep patrolling the cover and extra cover regions.

Though Misbah played a captain's knock and duly deserves 'wah, wah, wah' from everybody, still, his tendency not to take enough singles to keep the scoreboard ticking, didn't benefit Pakistan. Misbah's batting was sublime but the approach was not so sensible and calculative.

Apparently, thanks to the favourable result, there should be no complaint against any Indian bowler, and Shami might also be considered as a rock star. However, things were, and hence are, not so rosy, if the length and line and no balls were scrutinised.

Indian bowlers' good stars - if any - saved them, whereas Pakistani batsmen behaved like school cricketers and were keener to come on the front-foot, instead of waiting on the back-foot, to mess things up by playing no horizontal shot whatsoever at Adelaide Oval - the ground with shorter square boundaries.

In case short balls were India's game-plan against Pakistan, then fine; otherwise if this length is maintained against South Africa or even Zimbabwe and West Indies, then Indian fielders might have to work overtime to become breathless sooner than later.

Frankly, Pakistani batsmen's approach to play Mohit Sharma was quite baffling too. Without attacking a newcomer from the word go to unsettle him, they rather allowed him to settle down. And Mohit is like one of those bowlers who are pretty rhythmic, and once they find the rhythm, can become ominous thanks to the momentum they gain, as the play progress.

Luck favoured Umesh Yadav and that's why he managed to survive. Else, a bowler who relies more on cross seam notwithstanding his pace that goes over 140-Kph often is not mentally fit to play at the highest level.

On the contrary, Ashwin, though his figures don't reflect that, has been the only bowler who seemed to have applied some grey matter, thus reduced the speed of deliveries in the air. To create more doubts on a batsman's mind and get more bounce off the deck, letting the ball spin.

Finally, if Pakistan applies commonsense to set their batting order, they could be in the second spot in the Pool B, for Zimbabwe or West Indies might stage an upset in this world cup by beating India, owing to their ability to play horizontal shots, if Indian pacers keep thinking... 'aggressive cricket means pitching the ball short, shorter, shortest'.

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