With India’s win in today’s match it extends their unbeaten streak against Pakistan in World Cups to 11 matches, 5 times in the World T20 only. With the enormous hype around the game and the electric atmosphere, the match proved to be a complete blockbuster. Here are the 5 talking points from tonight’s game:
The Incessant Showers
From 5 pm today, the rains had become an on again off again affair. They threatened to disrupt the match altogether or at least dampen the spirits but thankfully they did stop somewhere after 7 pm and the match was able to commence at 8 pm. The tie was reduced to 18 overs a side with certain bowling limitations to entail a contest that did not lose its sheen or hype because of the rains. The credit also has to go to the Eden Gardens support staff for doing a real proactive job and providing ample drainage and drying facilities. The ironic part was that even after so much rains the pitch turned out to be a dry square turner.
Demons in the pitch
So far in the tournament the pitches have been true to the subcontinent’s reputation perhaps even going a step further. This pitch was dry and the ball stopped before coming to the batsman. The amount of turn the spinners were getting was enormous and this was emphasized by R Ashwin spinning the ball square in his very second over. While it could be argued that both sides could have afforded an extra spinner, the pacers or the batsman did not have a gala time out there and with the exception of a couple of batsman on each side, nobody displayed the grit to stick it out. Blame it on the pitch how so ever you want but that is not how you produce quality strokeplay.
While India may have won the match even MS Dhoni conceded that there were a few glitches. One of them was not utilizing Ashwin’s full quota of overs or probably the scarce usage of Yuvraj the left arm spinner. Bumrah and Pandya combined went for 57 runs in 6 overs on a pitch where fast bowlers were not the front-line attacking option. Dhoni’s Pakistani counterpart Shahid Afridi on his part made a blunder by playing 4 pacers and only one pacer. Later he kept Amir back for too long and the game was almost done and dusted when Amir returned for a second spell. While Afridi may maintain they were 30 runs short, the truth is that these little anomalies lost them the game.
The Virat-Yuvraj show
Uniting at 23/3, the duo had an arduous task at their hand, but both the batsman played smart cricket and held themselves back until they were set and only then began to free their arms. Yuvraj hit his perennial nemesis, Wahab Riaz for six over deep midwicket but perished at the last ball of the same over trying to do an encore. Nevertheless the job was almost done by then and a full flowing Virat Kohli then shifted gears, unleashing strokes such as the square cut and the slog sweep which you would not normally associate with Virat Kohli. It was fitting that he finished with a strike rate of 160+ and a score of 50+. He was clearly the best batsman among the two sides.
Sami on a hattrick
Had Yuvraj Singh been dismissed on that ball in that eventful Mohammad Sami over he would have accomplished a hattrick in all forms of international cricket. That, however, was not to be. But his 2-in-2 did give India a scare when he sent Dhawan and Raina back to the pavilion. Both were similar dismissals caused by the extra pace and the skiddy and slippery nature of his bowling, both batsman chopping the ball onto their stumps. It was a typical Pakistani show of strength where the not-needed extra pacer turned to be the vital cog in the wheel. From India’s perspective they are now looking at 2 left handers who are horribly out of touch, at least on tracks that have something in them.