Sunday, January 16, 2011

Whatta Choke!!!!

It was 12:15 am, South Africa were on their way to an easy victory. At the end of the 31st over, the score read South Africa 145/4 with Smith batting on 75, they needed 49 runs from the remaining 19 overs at a required run rate of 2.42 per over and Dhoni seemed in no mood to attack and force the issue. It was getting boring, I was just about to switch of the television and start watching an episode of Breaking Bad, but then, South Africa took the batting power-play. Quickly, the field went from a 4-5 field, to a 6-3 field, suddenly the singles didn't seem all that easy, MS Dhoni brought back Munaf, and with his first ball, he knocked over Graeme Smith, it was game on, Breaking Bad could wait.

That was the turning point, from that point on, the Indian team seemed suddenly on top. Granted that they had the rub of the green with the decision against Johan Botha, where he was given out LBW to Zaheer for outside edging the ball in-front of the stumps, but all in all, the wind went out of the sails of the South African ship, the moment they lost Smith. That's when the choking began, there were merely 18 power-play deliveries left, they needed 35 runs from a 102 deliveries, surely they could afford to play out 18 deliveries. But instead they didn't, they went for crazy singles, which led to the run out of Dale Steyn and play extravagant cuts against a attacking off-side field. It was in-explicable, they could take as many deliveries as they wanted, block as many balls, the wicket really wasn't doing much, the bowlers were sharp, but they weren't really bowling wicket taking deliveries, the only thing they were doing better, was holding there nerve.

MS Dhoni once again kept a cool head under pressure, and this is the greatest value he brings to the team. I am still not convinced of MS Dhoni's field placings, which in my view are usually too defensive, especially in test cricket, and neither am I too convinced in regards the team selection, though I am sure he is not the only person who has a say in that. However, the one thing I am convinced about, is that notwithstanding all the above reservations, he is a very capable captain. Nothing seems to faze him, he takes victory and defeat equally in his stride. This is his hallmark and seems to have become the hallmark of this Indian team, they have very rightly earned the title of the bounce-back kings and I hope this trend continues in the future, especially with the World Cup around the corner.


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