One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

Sultans of Swing !??!

My belief in the theory "There's extra swing when the lights are on" (especially after the Eng-Pak game) made me feel very happy that Ganguly had called correctly at the toss. Moreover, when the Sachin-Sehwag show was on, I was ecstatic as I couldn't help imagine the perverse pleasure I would have in seeing the English chase nearly 300 (maybe more) in 'swinging' conditions.

When we managed only 250, I couldn't agree more with Mark Nicholas who, just prior to the start of the English innings, said, "I had predicted an Indian win if they got over 250 and an English win if they folded within 250. Now that the score is exactly 250 it's anybody's game".

As Sameer said in his preview, it was just a 'par' score and I think we got the 'par' due to the beautiful 'tee' shots by Yuvraj and Dravid which got us the 'birdies' to negate the 'bogeys' of the middle-overs.

When our guys came on the field, the intensity showed in their eyes. The energy level was further boosted by the spectacular effort by Kaif in running Nick Knight out. People compare this attempt with the Jonty-Inzamam incident, but there is one crucial difference .. I read an article recently where Jonty admitted that his was not a particularly good bit of fielding as he was hesitant to throw the ball at the stumps and therefore threw himself on the stumps. If the master of fielding says "throwing" the ball is better, which is what Kaifi did, then there's no doubt in my mind that this was a better fielding effort.

I was wondering what the Indian bowler's had had during the break, it was surely not the Aloo Paratha I had managed to cram in during the break, at the nearby joint. While they were making the ball speak, I sat in disbelief - practically mesmerised. Experts had also warned India of the potential hazards of having no regular fifth bowler, plus the injury to Nehra meant Srinath and Zaheer had to pack atleast the first 4 wickets in their first spells. They bowled with a lot of heart as the balls seemed to go straight through the batsmen, but try as they may, the English batsmen just couldn't knick those peaches.

When Nehra was given the ball, I felt it was a just a touch too soon, maybe just one more over from Zaheer and possibly we would have got another wicket. When the first few deliveries from Nehra drifted down to the legs of Vaughan, I wondered if he knew that the two left-handed English openers were back in the pavilion. I think it was the fourth ball that he got on-and-around the off-stump and Vaughan was beaten. Hmm... this could be interesting, I thought. How wrong was I ? It turned out to be much more than plain interesting. Once he was in his rhythm, Nehra was unstoppable. I have rarely seen such control by a pace bowler. Five of the six wickets that he took were caught behind the wicket. But the one wicket of Alec Stewart proved that he has re-discovered the ball that 'Akramesquely' swings back in to the right-handers. It is this that I consider is his main weapon.

Andy Flintoff and Caddick resisted for a while, but by then the writing was already on the wall. By the time Zaheer caught Anderson with his now-patented toe-crusher (just ask the Namibians!!), I was left wondering if I had ever seen 3 pacemen from the same team bowl so well together. It could very well have been the World XI team with McGrath (Srinath), a left-handed version of the Donald-of-yore (Zaheer) and Akram (Nehra), all bowling at their best. Surely, these must be the new "Sultans of Swing". Only time will tell I suppose !!

Cheers !!!

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