India-England tie: One good collapse deserves another

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 15, 2011 11:13 hrs

How many times have you seen a team lose 5 odd wickets for 10 odd runs in an ODI or Test match? Usually the pitch plays well, there's a long partnership and the bowlers look totally toothless. Then just one wicket mysteriously opens the floodgates, making the pitch look like a minefield.

That happened twice in one evening in the ODI versus India and England at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium.
First India collapsed from 305-3 to 338 all down. We were looking good for 350-360 at one stage. Then England collapsed from 281-2 to 325-8. They were looking good to wrap up the match in 48-49 overs at one stage.

But the biggest question being asked is: Who is happier? Which team took more away from the tie? If this were say the Super Six stage, then one might be tempted to say it was England thanks to their putting up 338 batting second. But the current format is such that even a few bad matches will see you through to the quarters, so it's probably even stevens.

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There are some who say that it's important to top the group to play a weak team in the quarters. But any team that wants to win the cup will have to win three straight matches at that stage, so the order is not important. What difference does it make if you meet Australia in the quarters, semis or finals? A hat-trick of wins is required no matter what the order.

England gains momentum...

England probably needed a win here more than India. It got thrashed by Australia in the last ODI series it played. It sneaked past first Canada in a warm-up match and then Netherlands in its first group match. India were rank favourites and England took us head-on.

Scoring 338 batting second is a tall task indeed. Also important was Andrew Strauss' 158. When the captain plays such a brilliant innings, it is bound to lift the entire team. The sixes that the tail hit will also add to the confidence during future chases.

India gains momentum...

This team has been known for its fight backs. That is exactly what happened when India turned the match from a hopeless 281-2 to a tie. At the end of the day, in the World Cup 2011, we are still undefeated in 4 matches (including the warm-up games). The biggest plus point was Yuvraj Singh's brisk half-century. Now one can say that all of India's batsmen are in form.

India, as a team, also needs to be shaken up every now and then. Remember the 125 all down against Australia in the 2003 WC right at the beginning? That led to a march straight to the final. The current team has been shaken without a match being lost. It will sure to be a good wake-up call.

ICC looking sillier than ever...

Now you know why India has been opposing the UDRS all along. At 163/2, an LBW decision was referred to the third umpire. The whole stadium watched as Ian Bell looked plum. Bell started walking, but it was not out? Why? Because Bell was more than 2.5 metres out and that was enough cause for doubt. Now while the ICC was "technically" correct, the whole thing looked like a farce and the ICC's use of technology is looking to be a bigger joke by the day.

The standard of umpiring has really gone up in the last couple of decades. So when an umpire makes a mistake, most players just brush it aside. But when technology makes a mistake, it is simply inexcusable.

Even captain MS Dhoni called the mixing of human judgment and technology in this manner an "adulteration", a very interesting use of words.

Should it be a 3-1 or 2-2 attack?

In the match against Bangladesh, the third seamer (S Sreesanth) went for 53 runs in 5 overs. People called for a second spinner. In the England match, the second spinner went for 71 runs in 10 overs and people have called for a third seamer again.
That's one issue which is unsettled and looks like changing from match to match. The real problem has come due to the injury of medium pacer Praveen Kumar who would have given variety to the Indian attack.

One hopes that the issue is sorted out by the quarter-finals, should we get that far.

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.