Friday, May 7, 2010

Super eights day 1

So, the group stage of the tournament is over and it is time for the super eights with the big boys of world cricket fighting for the semifinal spots. Yesterday, it was England v Pakistan and South Africa taking on the Kiwis.

First up, let us look at the match between England and Pakistan. I surely thought that only one team turned up for the match as Pakistan played below par cricket though, I'm perhaps a bit generous on Pakistan as they were worse than just being below par. One can never predict how Pakistan would play and yesterday the bad Pakistan turned up for the match. Pakistan's batting was poor, some of their tactics were strange and less said the better about their fielding. Of course, England have a good side for this tournament and were never going to be tested by a team which was lacklustre. It doesn't mean that Pakistan can't progress to the semifinal stage as they always have been a mercurial team, who can suddenly string together a few victories and win the tournament, but they need to play far better than what they did yesterday.

Actually, Pakistan started well with the bat as Siders helped their cause by bowling short and wide, but England clawed their way back into match thanks to Yardy and Broad. Yardy is suited to T/20 cricket as he bowls wicket to wicket and rarely bowls short. I always like the idea of having a left arm spinner in t/20 cricket. Swann and Broad too bowled well with Siders getting couple of lucky wickets. It doesn't take away the fact that both he and especially, Bresnan were below par. Bresnan now averages over 65 in t/20 cricket and has a e/r of over 9. I just don't understand why he persisted with bowling short in the last over.

Pakistan's score of 147 still looked like a par score on the Barbados wicket as the pitch has bounce for the quicker bowlers and was gripping a bit for the spinners. In fact, I said it on a cricket forum that they can defend the target, but silly of me as I didn't remember that Pakistan can't catch. Ajmal perhaps is one of the worst fielders of all time yet, was fielding at a key position like mid on which was strange and as expected he made a mess of some very easy chances. Now how on earth can he drop Kieswetter in the first over! The fielding lapses continued as Razzaq dropped a chance of his own bowling and Alam dropped a tough chance of KP at long off. Kamran too joined in the fun by missing a run out.

For England, KP played a excellent knock to steer the team to a victory. KP is the second highest run-getter in t/20 matches and his ability to get big scores at a healthy rate even on pitches that has something in it for the bowlers makes him a dangerous player. He played some fine shots especially, against the spinners as he used his feet well and chipped down the wicket to medium pacers to upset their length. It was yet another innings in which KP came up with some fine cricketing shots and was innovative too. Lest I forget that he took a fine catch on the boundary!

Pakistan have to surely lift their game as the fielding was atrocious, bowlers like Asif, Afridi and Razzaq weren't at their best and I still think Amer should open the bowling as he gets a bit of swing with the new ball. It was also a bit strange to see that Ajmal bowled only one over upfront. He was the best spinner on view for Pakistan and should have been used more in the early overs as the pitch did assist the spinners and to be frank, batting too wasn't much better. I'm still not convinced that Hafeez is good enough either as he hasn't impressed me with the bat and his bowling is predictable. Alam is no doubt wasted at number 8. He isn't a slogger, but someone who can play sensibly in the middle order by rotating the strike and with Misbah not firing he can come up the order.

In the other match, it was good to see that Kallis was prepared to take a few more risks early in the innings, but the turning point of the match came when Albie was promoted up the order and he took the game away from NZ with his big hitting. South Africa have been rigid with their tactics and their strategy of not promoting Morkel up the order in the 09 semifinal against Pakistan was one of the main reasons why they lost that game. Morkel faced just 4 deliveries in that match yet, Arthur and Smith defended that decision! Smith though seems to have realised that mistake now. Albie doesn't have a wide range of shots, but is a very powerful hitter and the Saffers have to give him the chance to bat for some overs. NZ's bowling in the end overs again wasn't great, but the credit has to go to Morkel for playing a fine knock.

NZ lost McCullum early and were never really in the game though Ryder played few powerful shots. N.McCullum tried his best, but 170 was 15 or 20 runs too many on that pitch. The form of Taylor and B.McCullum would be worrying the Kiwi management for sure but on the other hand, SA would be encouraged by the fact that Botha got some wickets.

So, in the first match, one can say that only one team turned up for the contest and in the second match, it was the decision to promote Morkel up the order that turned the match on its head.

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