Home > Cricket > India's tour of Pakistan > Column > Javagal Srinath
The game is too batsman friendly
March 14, 2004
The Indians held the nerves in the final hour to make it a great victory in the first one-dayer against Pakistan in Karachi.
While I agree that all of us witnessed a great game of cricket, a few concerns about the actual role of the bowlers in the game is becoming increasingly evident. An imbalance has surely set in between the bat and ball. The game, at least its one-day version, appears so one-sided at times that I often heard people asking questions like "why didn't he hit this ball for a six or at least for a four"?
The game has gone to a level where every ball should be played for runs. When a batsman misses the ball, everyone around feels that the batsman was unlucky not to have hit the ball.
The flat wickets have badly infected the one-day format and the bowling fraternity in large. The rules of the game have only added to the woes of the bowlers. The red normal cricket balls played in the day games can still bring some respite to the bowlers. But, at present, the game has become more colourful with the white balls virtually replacing the bowler-friendly red balls.
Replacing the white ball in the midst of a game at the behest of batmen is a ridiculous rule. The bowlers' art is to maintain a good shine on the ball to achieve the desired movement and deceive and challenge the skills of the batsmen. It's a common sight to see the batsmen seeking change of balls when the ball starts doing reverse swing. The reason for the change of ball is supposedly the poor colour of the ball. The bowlers, having worked on the ball all the while, remain hapless spectators when the umpires change the ball. It makes the bowlers clueless, especially at the crucial juncture of the game.
It would have been a world record had the Pakistanis managed to chase 350 runs successfully. Now the Indian team must be wondering what should be a real good score to be on the safer side.
Batting dominated the game no doubt, but at the end it was our bowlers who won the match. The Pakistani bowlers were again up to intimidation and were guilty of giving away too many wides, no balls and short pitched deliveries. It is hardly possible for a team to win a game in which it has thrown away so many extras. Pakistan's intimidation policy not only made them bowl all over the place but gave enough opportunity to our batsmen to pounce on it.
In contrast, our new ball bowlers were excellent as they stuck to the basic discipline of bowling in the right areas. Balaji has understood the line with the new ball very well and was rightly chosen by the skipper to open the attack. In such tall scoring games, it is important to have initial tight spells with the new ball as that sets the tone for the opponents. Balaji has good slower deliveries, which he has not used effectively. Once that is sorted out, he could be the best bowler in the side.
The last over bowled by Ashish Nehra must have done a world of good to his confidence. Zaheer Khan and Ashish didn't appear to be at their best .I hope both get better as the tour progresses.
Inzamam-ul Haq was little too worried about the Indian batting. The reason for opting to bowl first baffled many of us. Although Pakistan came close enough to steal the game, it's the pressure that undid their batsmen.
Miandad played his innings quite well from the dressing room, but it wasn't good enough for Pakistan to win. Ganguly's imaginative captaincy paid off in bringing Murali Kartik into the attack at a very crucial stage.
Inzy was too eager to capitulate the spinner, which only cost him his own wicket. So was Yousuf Youhana, who underestimated the change that was brought about when Sehwag was introduced.
Kaif was spectacular and so were others. Kaif has reminded all about his value to the team time and again and it was no different in Karachi on Saturday. His fielding ability instantly lifts the spirits of the bowlers. He did contribute to the team in saving at the least 30 runs.
I am sure that all of us will be watching many more such close encounters in the coming games.
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