Monday, November 5, 2007
Did anybody miss Dravid?
So that wasn't so difficult, was it? No Dravid, Tendulkar gone early, and India win easily. Okay, I'm not saying one necessarily followed the other, but those who keep chanting that without the trio to hold things together we can only win Twenty20 cricket are refusing to look at cold facts. And the facts are these: Mohammed Yousuf, the erstwhile Yohana, headed Pakistan's batting averages in the last series, which Pakistan lost. One of the primary reasons for that was that Yousuf had the lowest strike rate among Pakistan's batsmen. Yousuf was again the highest scorer in the first ODI of this series with India, and Pakistan lost. He did end up with a good strike rate at the end, but he and Younis played too cautiously in the middle overs and were primarily responsible for losing the game. Pakistan and India face similar problems: their senior players don't want to take sufficient risks. I've worked out the averages and strike rates of the Indian players starting from the England series, and it's no surprise to me that Sachin Tendulkar tops the batting average, but languishes at the bottom along with Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid when it comes to strike rates. So was India's win in Guwahati against Pakistan in the first ODI facilitated by the absence of Dravid and early dismissal of Tendulkar? It seems an unkind thing to say, but let's see how the rest of the series goes, let's see how many Indian wins can be attributed to the seniors. My viewpoint on this has been steady for a long time now: the importance of sheet anchors in one-day cricket is exaggerated, especially with wickets becoming flatter and average team scores becoming higher; anybody can go along at 4 runs an over on such wickets, but that's not going to win many one-day matches; in fact, successful teams like Australia are also upping the ante in Test matches.