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    January 05, 2007

    Full of farce

    It's charitable to suggest that there was one period when farce reigned supreme at Cape Town today. Most of India's innings, especially after the dismissals of Ganguly and Dravid, could easily be categorized as high farce.

    The first farcical act was when Sehwag walked out to open. He's had a terrible month or so. But he made some sort of an impact when he batted down the order earlier in the game. Yet, with a test match to be won, he opened. To no-one's surprise, he was out early.

    The second farcical act was after Wasim Jaffer got out. We kept waiting to see if someone appeared from the dressing room and no-one did! The commentators began talking about a 'time out' dismissal, unprecedented in the history of test cricket. Then again, a forfeited test and a double-declaration were unprecedented before those events occured!

    In my opinion, the umpires got it wrong - they should not have invoked any 'special situation' clause and should have declared that India's #4 batsman was timed out. India's response to that should have actually been to point out that Munaf Patel was about to walk in at #4. Everyone would have been happy, perhaps even Munaf. In street cricket, the concept of a 'baby over' prevails when a better bowler completes the over bowled by a fairly pathetic bowler, mostly halfway through the over, i.e. after three balls have been bowled. Munaf Patel's batting gave me the distinct impression that he was unwilling to even last a baby-ball, let alone a baby over.

    Dinesh Karthik was batting superbly at the other end - eking out runs through various means. All that Sreesanth, Zaheer and Munaf needed to do was to take a single, sensibly enough so Dinesh Karthik got most of the strike. They failed, miserably. It is likely that India could have scored 10-15 runs more, perhaps these runs could prove to be priceless in the context of what unravels tomorrow.

    In between Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik, there was a wonderful, gritty partnership between Ganguly and Dravid. After them, farcical proceedings resumed. Paul Harris wheeled away, conceding around 2 runs an over. Shaun Pollock conceded less than 2 an over. There wasn't even the slightest indication that the batsmen (Tendulkar and Dravid) wanted to score runs. There's a very high chance that you can't win a test match by batting out time - you need to put the runs on the board!

    I'm not sure if this qualifies as a 'deja vu all over again' post, but around 10 months ago, England, batting in the third innings of the Wankhede test, scored ridiculously slowly. India's batting order was then forcibly altered after Sehwag wasn't allowed to open since he'd been off the field for a large part of the previous day!

    Dravid has ended the series with 125 runs at an average of 20.8 and a strike rate of 37.6. Purely on a gut feel, I checked his numbers in series where he's averaged less than 40. I find that there's a pretty significant relationship between his batting average/runs scored and his strike rate. In eight out of the previous nine (or 10) seires that he's averaged < 40 (or just over 40, at most), his strike rate has been < 35 (or just around 35). What this does suggest to me is that the best way for Dravid to get back to form is to stop potting around. For example in the first innings in the Cape Town test, he smacked Paul Harris around, and then froze against Shaun Pollock. Singles, Rahul!

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 11:51 PM |
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