Saturday, March 28, 2009

A revised take on Napier

This was the post I was working on yesterday when I was called away for dinner, and then subsequently forgot to post:
Common sense would suggest that India will lose this second test at Napier by seven or eight wickets sometime on the fifth day. I don't think India will get bowled out for 300 odd again, but the problem is that India played only 93 overs in the first innings. Thus they've left themselves way too much time to play out in this test. To ensure themselves real safety, they'll need to bat till about tea on the fifth day. Perhaps an hour before tea will do as well. But if India get bowled out for 450 an hour before tea on the fifth day, they'll probably lose as well, for one would back New Zealand to chase down those runs. What India needed yesterday was a big 200 run partnership that sapped the Kiwis' spirits. Instead, no partnership exceeded 87, and Indian subsided from 252-5 to 305 all out (that slide is another reason I'm pessimistic about India's chances of survival). The amount of time left and New Zealand's lead also means that New Zealand should be able to sustain a reasonable amount of optimism even through any partnerships that might flower. All in all its a pretty sticky situation to be in.

Well, so some of my pessimism was unfounded. India did the right thing by only losing one wicket all day; one batsman scored a ton, and two others got 50s. About the only thing wrong they did all day was not score 63 more runs i.e., they haven't erased the deficit yet. That little fact means New Zealand will come out on the fifth day still feeling like they have a chance. Yuvraj and Karthik will have a second chance to show their steely natures (as opposed to the marshmallow impression they did in the first innings). The pre-lunch session will be quite tense today. Once India erase the deficit, every run from there on will deflate the Kiwis and knock the spring out of their step.

The most significant gain from yesterday's play was clearly Gambhir's batting. He's developing steadily, and some of the questions surrounding him (in my mind at least) are being answered on this tour. This Napier pitch is not the world's most hostile, but it still takes character to bat for a whole day in a situation like the one he found himself in. Kudos.


Blogger Subash said...

All the fans of Indian cricket team needed to take a new year resolution -- No pessimism about my team this year. I used to be one of those that thought the bad news is just around the corner. But with this "new" team and Dhoni at the helm, I think I have the feeling that the Aussie fans must've had for the last 15 years. No matter what, my team has got a chance! I remember watching the 20/20 game vs SL recently and I had that feeling and we won. I had the same feeling during the 20/20 against NZ but we lost but we fought the good fight instead of packing it in. These days, I know while watching the game that my team is gonna win more often than not (not 60 to 40, but 80 to 20!).

4:35 PM  
Blogger Subash said...

About the whole "did india not have enough respect for NZ bowlers" line of questioning -- I think after seeing how Ryder and Co went about it, and how India hammered them in the first test -- The top order certainly must've wanted to go hammer and tongs to force a result. It backfired. I still think Sehwag's cross-batted slog in the 2nd inning, was in a way an attempt to force a way to win (even with 300+ in arrears). If I were the team management, this would've been my gamble -- Hope Sehwag clicks and goes and scores a big hundred and others bat around him and make NZ bat to save the test on 5th day. If that backfires (like it did), set shop and grind it out.

4:40 PM  
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1:31 PM  

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