After eight days into the World Cup 2011, the tournament finally saw a game that went down to the wire. Until the last ball was bowled, there was excitement and suspense as to who would win and eventually no one team came out as winners as it ended into a tie, much deserved result. Now in my honest opinion, the result wasn’t due to an outstanding display of cricket by either or the team or their fighting spirit of not letting the other win, in-fact it was because neither of them really looked like they wanted to win themselves. How can a team that posts 338 on the board flounder the game in such a way in the second half that at one stage they looked they would lose with a few overs to spare. On the other hand it is simply inexplicable to understand how team can’t win from a position of 2/278 in 41 when only 61 are needed of 54 balls.
That pretty much summed up the day at Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangaluru. Both, Strauss and Tendulkar must be feeling that their respective tons deserved to be on the winning side of the game and they were disappointed at the end of it. Now both the teams will need to find the answers to many of the questions and especially the solutions to their weak links, very soon, if they want to go deeper in this tournament. I had mentioned in my earlier blog, that I don’t see England beating India unless the later side displays a shambolic bowling performance. Well, team India just managed to do exactly that. At the end of the day, both teams must have felt like being let off the hook after seeing the game ending in a tie.
Boys in blue very clearly know that their strength in their batting and their weakest link is their bowling. That is why I was perplexed with their attitude in the field at the beginning of the second half itself when they were acting as if the game was in their pocket. They should have seen something similar coming after a Bangladesh batting line up stacked up close to 300 against their attack. I have tremendous respect for MSD and applaud his innovative leadership, however, on Sunday he was merely ball following in the second half when it came to field placements. Bowling captain, Zaheer was disappointing in his first spell, but did extremely well in his last spell to bring his team back in the driver’s seat from an hopeless position.
There were some positives as well for team India. The God continued where his innings was cut short in the first game (due to an unfortunate run out) and went on to make his 47th ODI ton, thus coming tantalizingly close to making his 100th international ton (currently 98 hundreds) in this major tournament. He was not just dominating but merely toying around the English attack. Gambhir and Yuvraj seemed to have rediscovered their lost mojo with fast and neat half centuries. Dhoni’s decision of promoting himself ahead of Pathan could be questioned as finally India was not left with a specialized batsman and they were bowled out with one delivery still left. Overall, though 338 was very much defendable.
Strauss’s innings deserves equal applause. He delivered under pressure and when it mattered the most. That bottom hand continued to produce runs as he sailed his way to a magnificent 158. Ian Bell, made the full use of the two lives he received, one gifted o him by umpire Billy Bowden and other came through a drooped catch by Kohli at slips. The UDRS system came under scrutiny yet again as this time the human factor overturned a decision that the technology seemed to have gotten it right. The batsman, Eleven Indian fielders, around 40,000 spectators and even the England captain, all were convinced that Bell was out LBW, the only man who thought the other way, got it his way finally. So much for the technology and UDRS!!!
The next two games for both, India and England become extremely crucial. India must win the two games against the minnows and have no room left for an upset. While, if England manages to beat South Africa, they might have a chance at toping the group. With Sri Lanka losing to Pakistan on Saturday, and this tie on Sunday. Both the groups in the tournament are now wide open for anyone to grab the top two spots. Minnows feature in almost all the games during the week until the hosts Bangladesh take on West-Indies on Friday, in a game that can very well decide the #4 spot in division B.