There are some ODIs that have non-stop ups and downs for both teams while others have some turning points at various points of the match. Very rarely do you have a match where one turning point seems to decide the fate of the game.
In India’s quarter final match with Bangladesh in World Cup 2015, one such ball could be called just that. While India were rank favourites and expected to run away with the match (some on Twitter even wondered whether we would get 400), the openers started slowly and steadily.
They might have put up 75 runs but it was at a slow run rate of 4.5. Also the attacking Shikhar Dhawan made a mere 30 off 50 balls and got out. Superstar Virat Kohli made just 3 off 8 and Ajinkya Rahane an even more laboured 19 off 37.
When Suresh Raina walked in, he looked equally unsure. He was just 10 off 18 balls when Mashrafe Mortaza made a very strong LBW appeal turned down by the umpire. Bangladesh used their review and it looked very close in the replays. The Indian fans must have had their hearts in their mouths.
MS Dhoni was to walk in next and at 147/4 in 33.2 overs, the captain would have taken his time to settle down and another wicket would have pumped up and they would have tried to bowl India out in the range of 200-230—a highly gettable score.
However Raina survived and from there the duo turned it totally around. If Raina’s score read 10(18), then after getting that scare he hit 55(39) to totally take the game away from Bangladesh. Rohit Sharma was 72(87) before the above and 65(39) after that! What a turning point!
It’s very difficult for any team to come back from that performance. But curiously Bangladesh’s body language also changed after appeal that was turned down. They seemed listless on the field. Fours that could have been stopped with dives were given up.
Fielders were making silly mistakes and captain Mortaza started shouting at his bowlers was a pretty ugly sight. That was pretty sad because the Bangladeshi players showed great intensity at the beginning of the innings.
Even luck seemed to have eluded the till now plucky Bangladesh.
Rain came and that lessened the chances of reverse swing for the Bangladeshi fast bowlers. Rohit got out on a no ball, something which may not have been called so by another umpire. The Bangladeshi players couldn’t even review that decision.
Out of form Sir Ravindra Jadeja managed to belt a nice cameo of 23 off 10. India crossed the 300 mark, which is a huge psychological barrier especially in a World Cup knockout match.
The second half was a disaster whichever way you look at it. India made 99 runs in the first 25 overs and 203 runs in the second 25.
When Bangladesh began the chase, they were never in it. From 33-2 they went to 104-5 and finally 193-10.
After the Raina reprieve the body languages of both teams changed. The Bangladeshis became listless on the field and began their batting innings in a diffident manner. The Indian batting got electrified and so were the Indian XI when they took to the field.
There have also been great turning points for the star duo. Raina was a man who just couldn’t play out of the sub-continent and was a disaster against the short ball. His turning point came in the England tour last year. Now in the last 15 ODIs on England and Australian soil he averages 49 with a strike rate of 107. That includes his maiden World Cup ton against Zimbabwe.
Rohit also has arrived both in Australia and the World Cup. He made his maiden century in Australia in January and his maiden World Cup century in the match with Bangladesh. Both incidentally came in Melbourne. In World Cup 2015, Rohit has 296 runs at an average of 49.3 and a strike rate of 94.9.
Raina has a much more impressive 277 runs at an average of 69.2 and a strike rate of 112.1. Both are peaking at the right time and look dangerous for the semi-final and a possible final.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/