Anatomy of a chase

Sri Lanka just wrote the coaching manual on how to chase down a target on a tricky pitch. SL needed to get 144 runs (of the 164 they needed to win the match outright) to boot India out of the T20 World cup. The SL bowlers fought, clawed and yorked their way back into the game after India had scored a swift 90 odd runs in the first 10 overs of their inning and restricted them to just 163 off 20 overs, when a score in the neighborhood of 185+ loomed quite large.

After the initial reverses in the first two overs, the SL batsmen went about rebuilding the innings up. While the captain Sangakkara was digging in for the long haul, Dilshan found the perfect opportunity to get out of his rut to quickly score 30-odd runs which ensured the run rate did not fall too far behind. The scene of the one down batsman causing damage to India after the two dangerous openers have been gotten rid of, rather quickly and cheaply,  gave me the feeling of Deja Vu! Then came, the most crucial partnership of the match, which eventually gave a firm shove to India’s aspirations of sneaking in to the semis through the back door.

Sanga and Angelo Mathews were initially content to knock the ball around.  When these two got together, the score was reading 48/3 and another 96 required to get in to the semis off 12.2 overs. A required run rate 0f 8 per over. Nothing unheard of in T20 cricket but the pitch had seemed a little dodgy. Overs 9-12 fetched 30 runs and included two hits over the boundary, one each by Sanga and Angelo. By this time, both the batsmen looked in and if one of them stays till the end, its bye, bye India time.

Sanga showed why he is considered to have one of the keenest minds amongst his contemporaries. He did not let the pressure of the game get to his team. It seemed all the while that SL was more than happy to get to 144 (to qualify on NRR) and not 164 (outright win and qualification to semis). This was so contrary to the approach taken by South Africa in 2007, against (who else?) India. After Dilshan got out, he took it up on himself to keep the scoreboard ticking along and provided the impetus the inning needed, at the right time.

Over number 14, sent down by YK Pathan would go a long way in the proverbial door shutting on India’s face. Sanga plundered 16 runs off it with two 6’s and two 2’s. At the end of that over, SL needed only 44 from six over at a very pedestrian 7 RPO with 7 wickets in hand. Soon after Sanga departed for well made 46 (giving the debutant Vinay his 2nd wicket in international cricket) and Kapugadera walked in to join Angelo.

Its as if the SL team went over a blue print before they stepped on to the field for the chase. Step 1: Walk in; Step 2: Knock around; Step 3: Get your eye in while the other batsman steps on gas; Step 4: If the other batsman gets out while upping the rate, ask the incoming batsman to refer to Step 1.

They all followed it to a T. As Sanga got out, Kapugedara came in and was getting his eye in and Angelo was hitting boundaries at the other end.  By the end of 18th over, it was clear that SL was gonna be through to semis and the only interest left in the game was, how they were gonna do it. By now, Kapu had gotten the feel of bat and ball and launched two huge sixes off the last 2 balls of the 19th over, bringing the equation to 13 runs off the 20th over for an outright victory. In the process, India were put out of their misery.

The 20th over was book-ended by two 6’s – one from Angelo and the other, off the last ball of the inning by Kapu.  Cue jubilant SL players rushing on to the field and forlorn Indian players trudging off, and there you have it – A little “How to” DIY step-by-step procedure from SL in chasing a reasonably stiff target in a pressure game.

(P.S. If you are a sad India fan, perhaps this will help you a bit)

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4 responses to “Anatomy of a chase

  1. How many years can we get away by saying that we aren’t good players of fast bowling because we don’t have good bouncy tracks back in India. The pitches at Nagpur, Bangalore and Mohali have shown that have a bit of bite when they are prepared properly but players never practice often at these location nor are our training camps located there before any major tour or tournament (when we have time to attend them i.e.). Also we keep claiming that even though we are bad player or genuinely quick bowling we more than make up with our skills at tackling the turning tracks. However time and time again Sri Lanka beat us through the late 90’s and as recently as the Asia Cup final with quality spin bowling or even choke our middle order by bowling part time spinners (read Dharmasena, Jayasuriya and Chandana) at them.
    Also while over the years while batsmen around the world have gotten better at playing spin we seem to have made no progress at getting better at playing pace. Over the last 15 years batsmen from teams that are traditionally adept at playing pace like SA and Aus have come to India and played successfully on spinning tracks (performances by Michael Clarke, Hayden and Kallis, Amla and AB De Villiers spring to mind off the top of my head). They have beaten India at home and even drawn series a few times with all round team efforts where every batsmen of theirs has dug in while making a serious effort to encounter spin bowling. In some of these series we have prepared rank turners only to have been shown lacking in our own ability to play on these while people like Kreza and Clarke have picked up bucket loads of wickets. I don’t know where this comment is going ……… ahhhh I am just so pissed off.

    • All of it is justified. My thing is that, when people ask for the head of the captain on a platter, if we get kicked out of a tournament, i have a problem. A captain is only as good as his team. This particular group of assorted individuals was severely undercooked. Bowling way way (WAY) off color. Two aspects: 1. Wrong team selection or, 2. These players are not quite good enough. I think its a combination of both.

      Let’s see how many of the first choice XI from India’s Test or ODI side were in this squad. We lost an important cog before the tournament (Sehwag). PK injured. Ojha not selected (Why?). They brought in Jadeja whose only competitive cricket before the tourney could have been, Book Cricket. YKP is well past his “sell by” date, Shane Warne’s “greatest innings I have ever seen” comment not withstanding. Yuvraj Singh — He is just pure unadulterated dead weight. Rohit Sharma does not know where he fits in. No wicket taking bowlers in the team (which is absolutely crucial). This loss is more due to the fact that we did not have bowlers that influenced the game. In 2007 T20 WC, we had RP take a few wickets in a match, Bhajji in other and even Sreesanth contributed.

  2. Pingback: O Bowlers, Where Art Thou? « The Cricket Couch

  3. Pingback: O Bowlers, Where Art Thou? : Cric Ages

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