Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The Taylor and Tuffey show
First of all, I am just glad that one of my favourite teams Black Caps are again playing cricket. After a hectic season, Kiwi players got a break, but they are back in action and what a great day they had at Dambulla as they crushed India by a record margin of 200 runs.
When the match started, it didn't look so rosy for the Kiwis though, as they lost quick wickets on a pitch that assisted both swing and seam bowlers. Poor Williamson got a fine delivery on his debut and got out for zero. He would surely see better days in the future as he is a promising batsman. At 28 for 3, it looked like we would see yet another batting collapse by New Zealand, but the young captain Taylor showed courage and with support coming from Styris, Black Caps were able to get to 288.
I have never been a fan of Styris the pig, but nowadyas, I am beginning to like his batting. Yes, he rode his luck as yet again India were abysmal in the field what with Dhoni missing a regulation stumping of pig and Raina dropping a catch of Taylor, but Styris showed that he has a cool head on his shoulders. He didn't try anything fancy, but kept rotating the strike and when they took the batting power play, he came up with some lusty blows.
The star of their batting effort though was Taylor. Taylor may not be a purists delight as he plays lots of shots across the line however, he is a very effective batsman. I especially liked that inside out shot he played during the batting power play. It shows that Taylor is working hard to improve his game through the off side which is a good sign. Yes, India came back strongly by getting quick wickets, but the admirable Tuffey used the long handle well to help Black Caps reach 288 .
At Dambulla, chasing any total has never been easy, though in recent times, couple of teams including India themselves have won batting second. The pitch does assist the seamers and the lights at Dambulla are never great, but the Indian batting effort was awful to say the least. It seemed like the seamers have to just bowl back of a length and the Indian batsmen would oblige them by giving catching practice to the slip fielders. The credit also has to go to the Kiwi seamers for hitting the right length.
The most impressive among all the seamers was of course, the tower Tuffey. People talk about Kiwis having missed Bond due to him playing in the ICL, but in recent times they also missed Tuffey as he too went to play in the ICL. When the consistent Tuffey and the fiery Bond bowled together, albeit for a brief period, the Black Caps looked a lot better yet Tuffey never gets any recognition. Anyway, coming back to today's match, it was the good old Tuffey at his best, as he consistently hit the good length spot and troubled all the Indian batsmen with bounce and movement.
I also have to say some good words about Taylor's captaincy. I liked the fact that he took the batting power play when they had wickets in hand and both batsmen were set. In the field, when Sehwag scored a few boundaries early in the innings, I thought just like most modern day captains, he would panic and set defensive fields, but he continued to have couple of slips for S'wag. I am sure captains like Dhoni, Sanga, Punter, or Strauss would have set defensive fields for S'wag. I have made it clear in few of my previous blogs that I am not a big fan of Vettori's captaincy, so maybe Taylor can take over as the captain in the near future which would also mean lesser burden on Vettori's shoulders.
I know that there would a few excuses for India's loss like the lights being not up-to scratch, the pitch was assisting the seamers during the second session, there was turn for the spinners and maybe more. In my humble opinion, even when India bowled the ball did move around and the pitch was assisting the spinners as well, but abysmal fielding didn't help. The Indian batsmen too were awful as one could have at least got 200 on that pitch. It would be better for the Indian team, if they don't blame factors like toss and think about how to improve for the next game.
Finally, it is just great to see the gritty Black Caps again playing cricket and the icing on the cake is, they have started the season with a bang!