Monday, February 14, 2011

India vs Australia - Warm up Match, Blore 13th Feb'11

ICC World Cup Cricket, 2011 is just round the corner, & I am here to assure you all that, I shall evaluate & assimilate my critical views...like it or not !!

Today was the warm up match at Bangalore....the big one between India & Australia. One the defending Champions, & the other, the strongest contender, this time around.

India won the toss & predictably elected to bat, resting Sachin & Zaheer....a good move. Dhoni ensuring that there are no freak injuries for his mainstays in batting & bowling.
However, while Sehwag looked good in patches, & scored a sedate 54, hitting the first six of the match, but got out immediately after. The much vaunted, formidable Indian batting was rather vulnerable & brittle, limping on to 150 in the 33rd over,.......eight players back in the dressing room. For the ninth wicket partnership, Ashwin & Pathan were watchful & managed to put up a decent fight, adding  49 invaluable runs. For the last wicket, even Nehra put up a brave front, contributing 19 runs. Ashwin was particularly impressive with his intent to fight, scoring an unbeaten 25 runs. India struggled past 200 in the 42nd over & eventually ended with 214. Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvi, Raina, Dhoni, all big names failing miserably. Pathan survived two simple catches behind, & made the Aussies count briefly. He hit Hussey for two mighty sixes before holing out in the deep for a well made 32. However, by any standards, it was a disappointing display of batting in front of a boisterous crowd. Brett Lee was surprisingly fast & accurate, ably assisted by John Hastings, Bolinger & Kreiza. Ponting could not have asked for more. However the innings had 29 extras of which 21 wides, something Ponting can ill afford in the thick of the tournament.

Aussies in their reply started very confidently against the pace attack of Nehra, Srishant & Patel, with Watson & Paine stroking with ease. When Watson perished for a quickfire 33, it was already 51 runs in the 8th over. Ponting & Paine then took the score to 118, in just 21 overs, & it seemed like the match done & dusted for the Indians. Its at this stage, that Yuvi broke the partnership. The ball was spinning & turning & the Aussie line up just inexplicably panicked. Rash strokes became the norm, as Piyush & Bhajji ran amok amongst the wickets & Ponting could only watch in dismay at the other end. When he too was smartly stumpted by Dhoni for a well made 57, the Aussies were staring at the barrel, with 7 down for 166 in the 35th over. In the space of another 19 deliveries it was all over. Aussies were shot out for a paltry 176 & India had won the contest by a healthy 38 runs. Piyush had scalped 4 wickets, while Bhajji had chipped in with another 3. The bowlers had yet again bailed India out from a tight situation.

While this was a warm up match, both teams would be worried with their batting performance. In a serious game, this could well turn out to be a spoiler of sorts.

It looks like an interesting contest ahead, as the Championship gets started on coming Saturday, with India taking on Bangladesh.

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