Sunday, May 9, 2010

Super eights day 3

Yesterday, couple of matches were played in the super eights with the match between NZ and Pakistan being a very close contest and the other one surprisingly being a one-sided contest with England coming out on top.

First up, let us look at the match between the Kiwis and Pakistan. Pakistan won the toss and just like their neighbours India strangely elected to bowl first. If I look at the Pak. line up, I don't see the solidarity in the top order to chase a target, but they do have good spinners to defend the total.

Anyway, Pakistan included Rehman and that was a good move. I have said it many times that I like the idea of having a left arm spinner in the side for a T/20 game and the wicket being a bit two paced made Rehman a formidable force. Kiwis got a brisk start with McCullum finally finding some form, but Taylor again was disappointing. His inability to play shots through the off side isn't helping him. If he improves his play on the off side, it would surely help him even in test cricket. Styris, Vettori and N.McCullum somehow got NZ to a decent score of 133 which wasn't a bad score on that Barbados wicket. I still can't understand Hopkins playing in the side, though I guess McCullum is a reluctant keeper. NZ can also take a gamble by sending Mills up the order as he can smash it a long way. For Pakistan of course, their spinners especially Rehman was very good.

After the first innings, Pakistan would have been the happier team going back to the pavilion, as a score of 133 is perhaps 15 runs short of a par score at Barbados, but NZ's inspired selections, Mills and especially Butler came to the party. Mills is the right sort of bowler for a wicket like Barbados as he isn't quick, but gets a bit of bounce. Bowlers who tend to bowl at 83-85 miles per hour and can get bounce can always be effective on double paced wickets. Bond gave them good support to help Kiwis win a thriller by one run.

Pakistan though had their chances. Yes, their batsmen were again rocked by back of a length bowling, but Butt played a very mature knock of 67 and with Razzaq smashing a few sixes, it looked like Pakistan may win the match yet they lost. The architect of the victory was Butler for keeping his cool and bowling an amazing last over. Unlike Mills, he went around the wicket to cut the angle against Butt. Butt was trying to give some room to virtually every delivery, so it was a good ploy by Butler to go around the wicket. At the start of the last over Butt played a streaky shot and got a boundary through the third man region for four and perhaps Vettori could have had a third man as Butler was bowling from around the wicket. Butler kept his composure to again follow Butt and bowl a great yorker though, Butt and Rehman scampered for a single. So, with one ball remaining and just a couple of runs required to win the match, the super over was on the cards, but NZ got a touch lucky on the last ball as Butler didn't bowl a great last delivery with it drifting down the leg side yet, Rehman hit it straight to square leg fielder to get out as they lost by one run!!! In hindsight, one can say that Butt may have not run that single and could have faced the last delivery or even Amer could have come up the order, but those are instinctive decisions and the management can't be blamed. Pakistan's fans must be really heartbroken though, they still have a slight chance of reaching the semifinals. The match surely wasn't for the faint hearted!

The hero for NZ was the injury prone Butler. He may have suffered from major injuries in the past, but his ability to hit good areas and get bounce can always be a asset to the NZ side. He also kept his composure in the last over.

In the second match, it was the KP show. He is no doubt the danger man in the England's side as he can come in at number three and dominate the opposition.

South Africa looked nervous in the field with a wicket of no ball and couple of drop catches. Kallis and Boucher looked at each other only for the ball to go between them to the boundary and Duminy dropped a sitter. Actually, it all started well as Botha got a early wicket and perhaps should have bowled a few more overs upfront and the same can be said about Steyn. I say it again that Steyn is a attacking new ball bowler and should be used upfront.

As far as KP'S knock was concerned, what can I say? He was at his usual imperious best as he chipped down the track to medium pacers and sometimes played a guessing game with the quicker bowlers as he occasionally would stay back in the crease and make use of his height to get on top of the ball to pull it. He is no doubt a hard man to set field to. Botha came back to put the brakes on the scoring as he got KP out. Botha can be useful on Caribbean tracks as let us say his unorthodox action helps him on double paced wickets with his deliveries stopping on the batsmen. The batsmen on their part have to play as late as possible. Anyway, coming back to the match, it was a good comeback from South Africa with at least De Villers taking a great catch near the boundary to dismiss the dangerous Morgan. England eventually scored 168 which, was a good score on that pitch, but at one stage they threatened to get 180 and that would have put the Saffers completely out of the game. KP did mention that maybe SA missed a trick by not going with two spinners and I think he has a point as the wicket at Barbados does offer something for the spinners.

England's seamers bowled well at the start, but it was the spin duo of Swann and Yardy who, really did the trick. Swann is one of the best spinners going around at the moment, so his success may not have come as a surprise, but a few maybe surprised by Yardy' success. Yardy does have a very good record as a bowler in domestic t/20 cricket. He is a left arm spinner who has a round arm action and rarely bowls bad deliveries. On Caribbean wickets he was always gong to be effective. Duminy tried his best, but with the top order and the dangerous Morkel failing to counter the spinners, it was too much for Duminy and co. to do. Rarely do a team win a match if they don't have wickets in hand and have to score more than two runs per every ball of the last 6 or 7 overs and as expected, SA lost.

England have a good team though, losing KP as he goes back to England to attend the birth of his first child won't help. SA may have thought why didn't it happen before yesterday's match as they would have escaped from that savage hitter! No team would like to lose a number three batsman who, can score quickly and get big scores though, the team still has enough quality players like Morgan to win the match.

South Africa won't be happy with their fielding efforts in the match and have to look at some of their tactics like not changing the strategy of giving one over spells upfront. The strategy of giving one over spells is fine as the batsmen won't get used to any bowler, but if a bowler is bowling really well like Botha yesterday, then the tactic has to be changed. Steyn not being used upfront can be another mistake they are doing and South Africa also didn't pick an extra spinner for the match.

South Africa though, should be happy that their next opponent Pakistan too are sailing in the same boat as they are also struggling to make a mark in the tournament.

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