Posted by: nestaquin | April 20, 2008

A Lesson from Mister Cricket

The second match of the ambitious Indian Premier League was a far more satisfying contest than the original outing even without the superfluous and shallow spectacle present in Bangalore.

Played in a half empty stadium in Chandigarh the visiting Chennai team paced their innings perfectly to finish their allotted 20 overs with a record total of 240/5 after skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and sensibly batted.

The star of the show was West Australian Michael Hussey who played an imperious and classical innings scoring 116 not out from only 54 deliveries. Mr Cricket hardly played an improvised stroke and brought up his century in half an over less than the previous night’s star Brendan McCullum to make a mockery of the pundits claim that improvisation and slogging was the most efficient way of acquiring a large total in this shortest of cricketing formats.

During his partnerships with locals Suresh Raina and Subramaniam Badrinath, Hussey coached and cajoled his less experienced team-mates and the Indian pair seemed to grow in confidence the longer they spent at the crease with the Australian. At times, during the mid-wicket conferences the locals stood starry-eyed scarcely believing that they were in partnership with one of the world’s most prolific run scorers. To their credit they responded positively and maturely by giving Hussey most of the strike. They replied energetically and decisively to his calls for risky singles and twos and when given the nod opened their shoulders and hit a few boundaries of their own.

After one match Raina and Badrinath are already better educated cricketers and these subtle and immeasurable benefits are going to be more valuable to Indian cricket than the seemingly endless rivers of gold streaming into the BCCI coffers from the television moguls and their corporate clients.

Punjabi captain Yuvraj Singh had a match he’d rather forget. His captaincy was appallingly unimaginative and too often he didn’t respond to the ebbs and flows inherent in the game. He never attempted to motivate his players when under pressure and an exasperated Brett Lee and an infuriated Irfan Pathan took to setting their own fields after they couldn’t gain their skipper’s attention during the frantic last few overs because he was looking at his shoelaces or gazing off into the distance.

In reply, James Hopes and the talented Karan Goel began at a clip and at the halfway mark the Punjabi team were well placed at 111/1 with Hopes unbeaten on 71 from only 33 balls. He was out a few balls later and although Sangakkara played superbly, no-one else could support him and the men from Mohali fell 34 runs short of their winning target.

It was a decent match with some interesting and entertaining contests yet it lacked atmosphere both on and off the field.

Yuvraj Singh’s captaincy was impoverished, the locals fielding and throwing despairingly inconsistent and the winning team’s bowling stocks so thin that Jacob Oram opened the bowling. Still, Lee v Hayden was gripping and the contest between Murali and Sangakkara was beguiling. Hussey’s batting was a purist’s delight and James Hopes’ belligerence was brilliant while it lasted.

In the other match today Virender Sehwag’s Delhi team cantered home against Shane Warne’s Rajasthan by 9 wickets with 5 overs to spare. The win was set up with a miserly opening spell by the well rested Glenn McGrath, efficient fielding and some excellent bowling by Sri Lanka’s Farveez Maharoof and local allrounder Rajat Bhatia. The comprehensive manner of the win should prove once and for all that T20 is a game for all cricketers and not only batsman.

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Responses

  1. Hi Nesta – i saw the Chennai v Punjabi match live (via Setanta) and agree that this match was entertaining. The commentators were good, too… one GS Chappell’s opinions were particularly helpful as I know very little about Twenty20’s intricacies.
    I also saw match 3 (Delhi v Jaipur). It was a surprise to see bowlers do so well here as I understood that the T20 format punished even the best of them. Congrats to Farveez Maharoof for his brand new bike (and his MoM)!
    In all honesty, my allegiance lies with Test Match cricket, but I’m willing to give the IPL a chance – despite my stinking head cold!

  2. I concurr with your last sentence. (Also quiet a few other points you have raised in this post.:))

  3. At its core, T20 rewards and punishes the same skills as any other form of cricket – that is why, with very few exceptions (perhaps Bevan and Fairbrother) the best players at one form of the game are the best at all forms.

    Bowlers restricting batsmen to less than a run per ball will be the key to victory.

    I expect matches to get closer as teams come together a bit.

  4. Definitely a game for all. Good enough bowlers will always prove to be a handful. Dinda, McGrath have done amazingly well. And surpisingly Ganguly too.

    The best thing abt Hussey’s innings was that he did it against an international attack – Lee, Pathan, Sreesanth, Hopes. What an innings.

  5. The key period in T20 matches are the first 6 overs when the field is up.

    That’s where most matches are won and lost.


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