Thursday, October 11, 2007
Five bowler format sucks
So that's why most teams play only four specialist bowlers, and get a couple of batsmen who can turn their arms over to complete the fifth bowler's quota. Australia managed to recover in the first two ODIs in spite of losing four wickets early on both occasions because they had more depth in batting. Once India lose a few early wickets, that's game, set and match. India switched back to a four-bowler format in England after going 3-1 down in the series, levelled the series, and eventually lost 4-3. They might do the switcheroo again, but it shows confusion in their approach. Tell me, why would Australia with such a formidable batting line-up, where the wicket-keeper Gilchrist gives them such depth by also being one of the world's most dangerous batsmen, choose to let Hopes and Symonds be the fifth bowler, when they have bowlers like Stuart Clarke and Shaun Tait cooling their heels? Because they've worked out one-day cricket and know it's better to have a long batting line-up than a long tail, even if that means a weaker bowling attack. How much of a difference would it make for India to leave out Zaheer Khan, who's been going at more than seven an over without many wickets to show for it? On the other hand, it might make some difference to include the stylish new batsman Rohit Sharma in his place. Of course, the rout in Vadodara was so complete that nothing might have mattered there - but at least we might have got a contest. What was also interesting to me was how everyone could've misread the pitch so much. The curator's pre-match interview, the commentators' expectations of 300-plus scores and Dhoni's broad smile on winning the toss were all belied by the swing and seam movement in the morning, coupled with the bounce Johnson could extract by digging the ball in short of a length. It wasn't extravagant batting that did India in, because all the batsmen fell to defensive shots, and I don't think India's batting is so bad, or Australia's bowling so good, that India should get bowled out for 148 on an easy track. The fact is the Vadodara pitch has always assisted pace bowlers in the morning, and that's one reason why Vadodara can boast of producing three of India's premier pace bowlers in the current circuit - Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel - even if a couple of them no longer play for Vadodara. So how come India seemed to have no clue about how the pitch would behave in Irfan Pathan's hometown?