102(46), Shahid Afridi. 21(46), Salman Butt. That says it all. Wonder what’s Afridi’s jinx with 102. Recall 102(37)? 250 may have been a competitive score without Afridi’s knock(out). But just like Ijaz Ahmed pummelled India in the third game of the Pakistan tour, this was another unbelievable blitzkreig. Balaji probably lacked the imagination, but even none of the others who bowled well were spared. An uncharacteristic Afridi knock, with fewer mishits, there were no chances till a no-ball off Dinesh Mongia was caught at short fine leg by Yuvraj. Afridi also slammed his 200th ODI six during the game.
As for the Indian innings, it was one more of the early-morning-juice pitches, and it turned out to be an excellent toss to lose (maybe Dravid should have kept quite, see the previous post). We goofed it all in the ten overs. This could have happened in the other games too, but the belligerence of Sehwag, Tendulkar or Dhoni caused the bowlers to bowl garbage at them. In the absence of all those gymnastics today, Pak bowlers, Rana particularly, bowled class deliveries at our batsmen. The only thing not explained is the double bounce that existed in the track. Yuvraj’s wicket was to a ball that kept low enough. Sehwag did not get behind the line of the ball, but it seamed. Sachin also had a pretty good delivery bowled at him. Dhoni should not have been sent up the order on this kind of a track, but hindsight is of no use! Ganguly’s bowling might have been of use on this track, but if Afridi was destined to play this knock again, Ganguly’s figures may have read more like 1-0-24-0 than the usual 1-0-12-0 (except those games where he does bowl well!).
I wonder what trick India need to pull off in Delhi. It’s a new pitch apparently, so let’s see. But given the size of the ground and the form of some of the Pakis, we might need to put up 360! In any case, I guess we’ve more than underperformed in this series. 3-3 can save our face, but the pride’s already taken a beating. Can’t see it becoming 2-4 though, and that would be the greatest disaster! Come on India, pick yourselves up. And Ganguly, we want you back!