Saturday, 2 February, 2008

Let The ODIs Begin

“We are having such a good time. We are. We are. We’re having a wonderful time.”

“Yes, absolutely.”

It is hard to believe that these two had refused to even acknowledge each other, only few days ago. But then politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Ditto for cricket, which, of late has seen an intriguing mix of muscle flexing and subtle art of back room diplomacy, in equal measure. Imagine what a fascinating duel it would have been had Symmonds or Ricky Ponting batted against Harbhajan Singh at Melbourne yesterday and then faced the cameras together for the mandatory post match conference! They would have no doubt put up the same 'friendly' facade that Hillary and Obama displayed in Los Angeles, the other day.

But Indian team had different plans. They were in a tearing hurry to finish the match. Perhaps they took their captain’s word, of treating the lone Twenty20 match as a practice game, bit too seriously.

Has this win shifted the momentum Australia’s way? It is too simplistic to assume that, its resounding nature notwithstanding. I believe it has only served as a good wake up call to the Indians. One day series will be a different cup of tea altogether.

Australia admittedly will enjoy an upper hand on account of their strong batting line. Where India will fancy their chances is Australia’s surprisingly weak bowling line up, save Brett Lee.

It would be clichéd to state that the opening pair will define India’s course in most matches, but one needs to remember that in absence of Saurav Ganguly and the injury plagued Yuvraj Singh, India’s batting is the weakest amongst the three teams, something the team is not used to. Sehwag needs to carry his test form into the shorter version and others, especially Suresh Raina, needs to fulfill his potential as the most talented young bat, for, this tournament in most likelihood showcase India’s middle order, once the big four hang their shoes.

What gives me hope, though, is the bowling. Again a situation, which both the fans and the players won’t be too familiar with. Irfan Pathan lends a critical balance to this team and he will be the pivot around which M/s Ishant Sharma, Shreesanth and Harbhajan will cast their spell.

Tri series tournaments in Australia have given some abiding memories to most Indian cricket fans who began watching the game in early 80s, a point beautifully put across by Soumya Bhattacharya in his recent article in CricInfo magazine.

A joint conference featuring Symmo and Harbhajan will certainly be one such memory to carry from this year.

Even without it, the last tri series in Australia promises much more.


Golandaaz said...

This is the last time we will have a tri-series isn't it. In Australia?

Cricket Guru said...

Unfortunately yes.

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