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Team India’s Incredible Performances in the Warm Ups

February 17, 2011

I didn’t know we were so great in warm ups but that’s mainly because we barely play any. The BCCI doesn’t arrange any on overseas tours. I’m sure we would win a Warm Up World Cup if there was one. We barely played any Twenty20 when we won in 2007 so you know there’s precedent.

We had a great warm up game against Pakistan at the Oval before the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup in which we absolutely smashed them. I hope the rest of our tournament doesn’t pan out like it did then though. We’re playing all the teams we played then in the first round itself now. And Netherlands. Who beat England who then beat us.

But this is across 50 overs and Ravindra Jadeja is not in the team so we should be good. It would also absolutely spoil Gary’s impressive résumé  and screw up his farewell.

Coming back to the warm ups, the top four of the batting line up spent time in the middle. Sachin, Sehwag and sadly, Gambhir have been in and out of the ODI squad on account of various injuries over the last 18 months. The openers couldn’t get a respectable partnership going in both matches but at least each batsman has spent some time in the middle. SRT’s due a big one soon.

The middle order flopped once and fired once. 50-50 there. Yusuf made a patient, match situation reading 30 odd which turned out to be worth a lot later in the match. Raina threw it away in Bangalore and again threw it away after his fifty in Chennai and will definitely sit out to make room for Yuvraj who did nothing with the bat in Bangalore and DNB in Chennai.

MSD’s batting was baddd in Bangalore but soooper in Chennai. Experimented with the Powerplays in Chennai, was frustrated by the pacers everywhere and he had a good time keeping too.

Piyush Chawla answered questions over his selection, even  Harbhajan bowled well(!) but Ashwin’s biggest contribution came with the bat in Bangalore. Yuvraj got some wickets, Yusuf didn’t bowl.

The pacers were a big letdown though, expensive and ineffective. There’s only so many times Dhoni can say “Well of course on these pitches this is what can happen” and quickly move on to the positives.

Munaf bowled only 5 overs for an average economy rate of 8.6 with no wickets. Sreesanth’s theatrics were back and Nehra was disappointing throughout. Zaheer is seriously unfit if we can’t risk him bowling even half his quota in a warm up.

Overall, the batting looks strong. We know the back up is good to go if Yuvraj’s poor form continues. It won’t be a surprise if Chawla plays ahead of Ashwin or a third seamer, because he earned it.

If all three of them are equally bad then Sreesanth/Munaf should play ahead of Nehra on the basis of the same logic by which Yuvraj is in the team.

And what’s to say Zaheer won’t bowl tripe once he comes back? I’m already wondering which left hand opening batsman will tear into him this World Cup (my pick’s Chris Gayle). He should play all the games considering the gaps between each though. Hopefully.

Everything we’ve seen until now might still go for a toss once the World Cup begins. The last two World Cups drove me to extremes. 2003 remains a happy memory despite the outcome and 2007 remains a sobering thought, a learning experience almost, something which reminded me that cricket is after all a game.

Rambling done let me end it like Shastri; no matter how the next seven (groan) weeks go, cricket will be the winner. More cricket, less cricket, Twenty20 cricket or LOI cricket with split innings may be the winner but essentially, cricket will be the winner.

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