Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stick 'em in close skip!

A few days ago, I penned a post over at Different Strokes, complaining about the lack of close-in fielders for India spinners. Last night Harbhajan again bowled without a backward short-leg (a position that has netted him wickets in the past), and could only watch as at least two deflections went in that region. Today he's has had that position manned. Mishra fortunately has the full ring: a slip, backward short-leg, a silly mid-off and a forward short-leg.

But now Sehwag is bowling with just a slip, and a forward short-leg, with South Africa trailing by 213 runs on the fifth day of a test match in a series in which India is down 0-1 and needs a win to retain their test ranking at the top of the table. Is it just me or does something seem wrong with this picture? India cannot lose this match. They can only draw it or win it. So why are there no close-in fielders for Sehwag?

I can't pretend to understand what is going on in Dhoni's head. Perhaps he's been, as my friend Satadru Sen said the other day, "riding without a helmet." (One charitable take: Dhoni reckons he doesn't want to be in a situation where he has to do any run chasing later in the day and thus is trying to not be overly aggressive; still, that favors the South African strategy of needing just to use up as much time as possible).

Update: Sehwag now has another man close in. Perhaps MSD did hear me.

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