One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

Warming up with a Calypso Collapso

I cannot make up my mind about India's last warm-up match against West Indies. Should I exult at Indian team's new-found potency in batting, bowling and fielding? Or should I feel embarrassed at the ease with which the hosts were overpowered? Or should I feel disappointment that India did not get enough practice against a team that one expected to put up a better fight than a bunch of Dutch novices?

I think it's quite right to feel all of the above.

Indian bowling was decent enough to warrant some degree of satisfaction. Zaheer and Agarkar looked a tad rusty to start off, but settled into a nice rhythm soon enough. Munaf Patel's bowling was bit of an enigma for me. He was bowling at around the early 120's (kmph) and still he was able to cause more trouble to the batsmen than almost all of the other bowlers on display yesterday. His strength was his ability to deliver balls from very close to the stumps and get them to shape away just enough to confound the batsmen. When a bowler bowls from as close to the stumps as Munaf does, it makes the batsmen play at almost every delivery as almost each delivery is headed for the stumps if the batsman misses. Irfan Pathan, on the other hand, is a man with a few mental storms to quell before he can get back to his best. His gentle amble to the bowling crease and his ineffective use of the front arm and the bowling wrist mean that his pace has suffered a great deal. He did get a few balls to swing nicely, but intermittently he bowled such ridiculously wide balls that one could not help but notice exasperation writ large on Rahul Dravid's face. If you ask me, he is on his way back, though admittedly there's some distance to go before he is once again as good as he used to be. Kumble bowled just one over in which he cleaned up the last West Indian wicket to fall... not quite enough practice for the veteran leggie, though I suspect he doesn't need much practice anyways. However, Kumble seems to have gotten over his proclivity to slide down the leg side... something that had plagued him for a couple of seasons.

Batting... well! Chasing 85 was a piece of cake, even against some quick and accurate bowling. But instead of cutting himself a slice of that cake and eating it like a proper gentleman, Sehwag decided to slam his face into the cake! I can't seem to figure out why Sehwag does not see what his problem is. If his problem were any clearer, it would be sold by Swarovski, I imagine!! But apparently he refuses to pay heed to any advice. His back foot stays anchored just on or outside the leg-stump and the only movement he makes is to nudge the front foot forward. In this position, a ball outside the off-stump and moving away will make him reach out to drive. And with the kind of form he has been suffering lately, he deftly manages to get an edge! Move your back foot sufficiently across to enable your front foot to reach closer to the ball, you dolt!! Well anyways, the rest of the batsmen, Uthappa and Karthik were perfectly right in not attempting to blast their way to 86. They intelligently ran the singles and the twos and ensured that the team management will have to find a very good reason to ignore them while selecting the team for the first match against Bangladesh.

I guess, India has earned more positives from their two warm-up matches than they would've imagined earlier. Now it remains to be seen if these positives translate themselves into wins in the days to come.

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