Brilliant Pakistan upstage Sachin’s all-round efforts

India have never lost a 50 over match, scoring over 300 (294?). And that remains still. It’s our second loss scoring 300 in a shortened match (the previous one being at Sydney, when Brett Lee stroked Balaji for a six, with a rain-shortened target (Ind played 50 overs though), after Yuvraj blitzed to a 139(124), scoring 22 off a Harvey over.

How often has Sachin done these? Bowled the last over of a close game? Scored a hundred and end up on the losing side? Scored a hundred after a string of single digit scores?

This match again is testimony to the fact that it’s dangerous to give a good start while you are defending even a tall target. Recall India’s starts in any of our many 300+ chases. And particularly recall a game at the same venue, Ahmedabad, against West Indies, when we made a mockery of a total of 324, chasing it with 14 balls to spare! I can remember a fellow watching the match alongside me, remarking, at the conclusion of the WI innings, “Arre yaar! Aur do run banathe tho record thod sakthe hain!”, to hint that if WI had made two more runs, we could have at least broken a world record!

But the real credit for winning the match must go to Malik, Inzi and all the other batsmen who made sizeable contributions around them, without messing up the run rate! The match was certainly not won in the last ball or over, but before. Unless you’re going to be defending more than 6-8 runs in the last over, or the chasing team has only a wicket in hand, there’s hardly a history, possibly, of the defending team winning.

I don’t think we must be too hard on India for losing this one. It was a well-fought game, with class batsman dominating from either side. It was won by the batsmen more than lost by the bowlers, though discipline remains an increasingly forgotten discipline as far as our bowling is concerned! We certainly need a dibbly-dobbly bowler who’d just stick to line and length rather than fire it in short or pitch it up full! And Nehra, for heaven’s sake, must improve his fielding, or he’ll soon find himself carrying drinks.

Finally, something on poor Tendulkar. What an innings it was? But is he not as fit as we think he is? Sachin should not be cramping up even in a long innings, but maybe the conditions were too harsh. But his fielding was testimony to his fitness, so maybe nothing to worry! His sixer of Kaneria that hit the cameraman was sach a Sachin shot. Pitched way outside the legstump, down the track diagonally, hit almost again the spin, straight, more towards long on, than long off. 88* to 94*. The other six was less spectacular, but vintage Sachin again. And the down-the-track slog over midwicket off Razzaq, wow! That was great too. Though you probably don’t want to be MoM, on the losing side, it was funny that Inzi got it ahead of the centurion Sachin, who also picked a wicket, took a catch, bowled the last over and fielded brilliantly. Oops, Sachin did all but win! Better luck next time, mate!

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