Friday, August 20, 2010
Strauss's captaincy and England's bowling effort
First of all, congrats to Azhar Ali for playing a gutsy knock of 92. He has shown to his teammates how to bat and his knock has no doubt helped Pakistan to get themselves into a strong position. In my humble opinion, Yesterday's play could also be remembered for Strauss's captaincy. He set defensive fields and his captaincy seemed to be devoid of any imagination. Yes, Azhar Ali and co. played better than they have done before, but my feeling is, if Strauss had been more aggressive as a captain, Pakistan would have got out for a lesser score.
The key point to discuss was the field Strauss set when Azhar Ali was batting with the last man Asif. Now, Ali was batting well, but I would never fathom Strauss having just one slip and spreading the field to Ali. However well Azhar Ali may have played, a captain should always believe that he can get him out. As expected, Azhar Ali edged one delivery through the second slip and it went scurrying to the boundary. Secondly, Azhar has a front-on stance and struggles to play through the covers, but from whatever I saw, I struggle to remember Strauss leaving the cover field open and tempting Azhar to drive.
Yesterday, we also saw the great Yousuf making his comeback and play in his typical languid style and score yet another elegant half century. He is a pleasure to watch as he is such a good timer of the ball, but I was disappointed by the way England bowled at him. Yousuf has a enviable record against England, but has struggled a bit against Australia and South Africa. One of the key reasons for that is, both Saffers and Aussies have pounded him with short pitched stuff with the occasional full delivery. Yousuf has a high back-lift and struggles to pull. As he has a high back-lift, the age old bouncer and the full delivery combination works well against him. So, a quick bowler can look at bowling bouncers to push him back and follow it up with the full delivery. England's bowlers bowled a touch fuller to him, but I didn't see enough of bouncers being bowled at him. Yes, the pitches in England aren't quick yet, I would like to see more bouncers being bowled at him with the odd full delivery to catch him in the crease.
If I have to discuss about England's bowling effort yesterday, I thought they bowled well as a unit, but I would like to have a look at few key points. First of all, Jimmy Anderson was trying to bowl from closer to the stumps and looking for the lbw against the lefthanders by bowling the inswinger. Anderson likes to slant it across the lefthander which isn't a bad delivery first up against the lefties as they tend to follow the ball. He also has shown that he can go around the wicket which would stop the batsmen from playing inside the line of the ball. So, why are England's coaches telling him to get lbw's by bowling the inswinger, when Anderson has been more successful by slanting it across the lefthander and it isn't like Anderson gets lots of lbw's either. I also noticed that Broad was again bowling short. I do hope someone tells to him to consistently hit the good length spot.
Anyway, it has been a great test match with Pakistan at the end of second day's play having their noses in front. It would be interesting to see how England respond to being put under pressure for the first time during the season.