Saturday, March 24, 2007

On deserving luck

Cricinfo's S Rajesh and HR Gopalakrishna summarise Indian misfortune in yesterday's match on their stats analysis thus:

"Sri Lanka clearly outperformed India in the second half of the match, but Rahul Dravid will be justified in believing that with better luck his team would have been chasing far fewer than 255. In the first 20 overs of the Sri Lankan innings, the Indian seamers - Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel - beat the bat or found the edge 39 times, which is nearly twice per over. On another day five of those near-misses might have resulted in dismissals; today, Sri Lanka had the rub of the green, and once they survived that early passage of play, India didn't have a chance."

Memories of that
who-blinks-first start of play yesterday will remain forever. But as much as the stat indicates India's ill luck on the day, we need to appreciate that the stat also shows good technique exhibited by the Sri Lankan top order against the moving ball. Videos of the match will confirm that fact.

On Friday the Indian batsmen randomly picked their balls to get out even though they got none of the probing stuff their own bowlers dished out (they batted in the afternoon) but I can think of at least 4 batsmen out of the Indian top seven who would have edged quite a few of those near misses nonchalantly even in a more professional batting display.

As they say, you get 'luckier' as you try harder. The Indians would have been better at edging those by customarily poking at the ball after it moved away instead of staying committed to the original shot they played and accepting getting beaten. In yesterday's match the Sri Lankans did the latter (i.e. accepted getting beaten by not trying hard) with considerable regularity, a measure of the little but telling improvements they have made in their cricket. Unlike the Indians they have learnt that when the ball moves regularly batsmen are better off not poking at it.

The SL batsmen put up 250+ in conditions assisting swing and seam bowling without any of Jayawardene, Jayasuriya or Sangakkara firing. It was the Sri Lankan equivalent of India setting up that score without contributions from Ganguly, Dravid and Sachin in a similar setting.Sri Lanka have always fielded better than India and of late they have been bowling better than India, even outside their country.

Now gently but firmly they have shown us that they bat a lot better as well.

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