One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

It started out with fourteen teams. Over the last month and half, we've seen these teams slug it out amongst themselves. First round followed by the Super Sixes and then the semi-finals. All the stages have seen some great matches and some surprising results. Things have not often gone according to the script as some of the mighty giants of international cricket have fallen by the wayside. There have been some teams which have had Lady Luck smiling on them. But now on the eve of the final match as we look back, clearly, two of the best teams in the tournament have managed to reach the final. And these two teams shall do battle at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

India shall challenge world champions, Australia in the final match tomorrow.

I'm not going to do a match preview as I usually do. Since I am completely biased towards India, I shall look at it from an Indian perspective and analyse the Australian team and see if I can find the weaknesses in the "invincible" Aussie side.

So, here goes... (first the batting)

Adam Gilchrist: Danger man! Likes anything short and wide or just simply short. Does not like fullish balls that come into him from just outside the off-stump. Has a propensity to drag balls onto the stumps.
Matthew Hayden: Stands outside the crease by a long way. When he hits the ball, it stays hit. Loves to flick balls off the pads and his blocked straight drives are deadly. Sweeps spinners. Has a tendency to flick short of length balls off the hips into the hands of the mid-wicket fielder.
Ricky Ponting: Anything short to him is deposited over the square-leg fence. Very aggressive in intent. Goes hard at the ball when he is new at the crease. This gives a chance to bowlers who can vary the pace and bowl a driveable slower ball. Also gets across the stumps far too much at times.
Darren Lehmann: Loves the spinners. Sweeps the spinners. Pacemen can cause problems to him. Also, has a tendency to manufacture ridiculous shots far too early in his innings.
Andrew Symonds: Danger man! Is every bit of an ideal one-day batsman. Has all the shots in the book. Sound defense and a tremendously strong offense. Excellent runner between the wickets. Can get too excited against a spinner.
Michael Bevan: It's a clich�ed expression, but its the truth. Bevan is "The Finisher". Has an uncanny knack of staying on till the end. Can play defensivey when rebuilding the innings. Can also explode out of nowhere when the situation so demands. Superb runner between the wickets. Get him early (can't really say how!) or else he's in for the long haul.
Ian Harvey: "The Freak". Thus known because he can do everything... equally well. Is an explosive lower middle order batsman. But can he deliver the goods against a bowling attack that has brought much better batsmen to their knees? It remains to be seen.
Andy Bichel: Has been the biggest Australian success story in the World Cup. Has been batting extremely well lower down the order. But again... the fact remains that he is a lower order bat.
Brad Hogg: Nothing to write home about him. Failed miserably with the bat so far in the World Cup.
Brett Lee: Is good for coming in and hitting a few lusty blows. Nothing more than that!
Glenn McGrath: Lesser said about his batting, the better.

Now the bowlers... here we go!

Glenn McGrath: The best bowler that Australia has. But is visibly on the decline. Has shifted focus from being the strike bowler to being a steady economical bowler. But batsmen invariably make mistakes against his disciplined bowling and get themselves out. Can be safely played out without going overboard in attacking him.
Brett Lee: Breathes fire. His pace is too hot to handle for most of the batsmen. But has the tendency to get wickets only in the initial overs of his spell. First two overs of any of his spells are the most dangerous. After that the speed tapers off slightly and the line goes slightly off the mark. Then his pace can be used to find the boundaries.
Andy Bichel: Bowls fast medium and straight with a bowling action that promises much more pace. I often compare him to a faster version of Manoj Prabhakar. But then, after all, he wasn't the first choice inclusion in the team. Came in to replace Jason Gillespie. Should be treated accordingly. Not too much respect needs to be given to his bowling.
Andrew Symonds: Support bowler. Steady mostly. Not too much pace. Giving him wickets is a crime.
Ian Harvey: Australia's "death bowler". Specializes in bowling in the end-overs. Has many variations of pace. Can bowl yorkers almost at will.
Brad Hogg: Left arm wrist spinner. Imparts huge spin on the ball. But a spinner against India on a fair wicket is no cause for concern. Wonder how Ganguly would treat him! ;-)
Darren Lehmann: Over-rated spin bowler.

So you see... even I can pick so many weak links in the Aussie line-up. They play aggressive cricket which sometimes hides some of the shortcomings that they have. Another quality of the Australians is their resilience. Apart from that, they are only human. And definitely not invincible!

Go India!!

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