The Final Headache
It was not Friday, and of course, not Sharjah, yet India faced defeat in the Kitply Cup Tri-series final in Dhaka. Just two days ago, Team India outclassed Pakistan by inflicting a crushing defeat with a huge margin of 140 runs. It seemed very likely that Team India would repeat the same form and aggressiveness in the final as well. It did, but remained short of 25 runs in the end. Scoring 290 against 316 shows the change of playing style that this new look Team India possesses. Those of us follow cricket closely will agree that we have no such phenomenon called sudden collapse, if one or two top order batsman got out. Now everyone contributes and that is the team play.
In the first encounter, Rohit Sharma took a stunning catch of Sulman Butt at short point, while in the final, the same Rohit dropped a much easier catch at the same place. He is not to be blamed as it happens in cricket. But had he taken the catch, the scenario perhaps might have been little different. The difference was of 110 runs, as the Butt who made just 19 runs then went on to make 129 before he got retired hurt. Just because of this Pakistan posted a mammoth total of 316 runs. Another man who made the huge difference was Yunus Khan, the out-of-form batsman returned to form with a bang. And together with Butt, he played for well over 32 overs for a 205-runs partnership. From Indian side, no such partnership was developed in the final.
Well, if we can feel a bit of satisfaction over the way men in blue played in Dhaka, still that was not enough. Sehwag did not repeat his form, but he cannot be blamed for the shot he played. He was beguiled actually, and in hurrying his shot he lofted over mid-off. As usual Gambhir started his innings in great style and played some fine shots. He was a little unlucky to be held at the boundary. But such catches make the difference. Yusuf Pathan had a god opportunity to prove his aggressive playing style; he was playing till he got out to a slow delivery. He tried to clear the infield, but mistimed as a result of which ball landed in the hands of Yunus Khan at short mid on.
Raina and Yuvraj were playing professionally well, but then Raina went for a sweep shot which landed into the hands of the mid-wicket fielder. That was the first blow towards defeat. All along, Team India, contrary to past style, was maintaining the run rate, certainly a healthy professional approach. But Yuvraj’s departure in the 32nd over was crucial, as he was the man to go in for some big shots when required. Still India did not give up, which is also deviation from the past playing style, skipper Dhoni and Irfan Pathan went on to add 60 runs in little over 11 overs. Pathan, desperate to accelerate the run rate, went for a pull, which was perhaps not the ideal ball to go for.
In the final, bowling proved expensive, and except for Parveen Kumar, who conceded just 37 runs in stipulated 10 over but was unlucky not to get a few wickets, all other bowlers ended with an economy rate of more than 5 runs per over. Piyush Chawla was hit 85 runs in his 10 overs.
We had hopes till Dhoni was on the crease. As skipper and as batsman, Dhoni has matured tremendously. His calm and confident posture sends positive signals. Turning to match, India was 290 with 12 balls remaining. Dhoni dispatched the first ball of 49th over bowled by Afridi over mid-wicket for a towering six, but the skipper repeated the same shot, this time on the off side, and was caught at deep cover. It was all over. The better of two teams won, Team India put up good fighting spirit, but we wanted win. India needs to get rid of final headache next time if the two teams meet in Asia Cup final.
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