India vs. Pakistan First ODI Review
It was a game that promised much but in the end fizzed out like a bad firework. When the game started, it looked like the game would end within 50 overs, but credit to the Indian captain for making the Pakistani players work to win and delay the inevitable. His brilliant innings also ensured that India could come within sniffing distance of an unthinkable victory. But much remains to be talked about the Indian performance and the game in general.
It looked like the batsmen were unsure of the conditions in the beginning. The wicket of Mohammed Hafeez must have come as a scare in the first ball of the innings. The other batsmen were also circumspect to the swing bowling, but once the ball became old, the batsmen were at ease with the conditions. Nasir Jamshed scored a century and held the innings together from the beginning. The experience of Younis Khan was important in pacing the run chase and guiding the chase to the end. But these batsmen were also helped by some poor umpiring decisions by the umpire. Shoaib Malik then finished off the innings with eleven balls to spare. The innings was jittery but he held his wicket and guided his team past the finishing line.
The Pakistani pacers were on the money from the first ball of the innings. Mohammed Irfan and Junaid Khan were superb, making use of the overcast conditions and the dampness of the pitch to reduce the Indian batting to 29 for the loss of five wickets. They displayed some superb swing bowling ability and completely befuddled the Indian batsmen. The spinners also suffocated the Indian batsmen in the middle overs with some superb line and length bowling. Hafeez was particularly superb on the day, going at less than three runs an over. They did well to restrict the much-hyped Indian batting to 225 runs.
It was not at all a good performance from the much-hyped Indian batting line-up. The technical deficiencies of the side were exposed in the face of some good swing and pace bowling. The entire Indian top order was bowled off a swinging ball. It was interesting to see that all batsmen were out pushing at the delivery or driving at it rather than getting behind the line of the ball and playing it by its merit. Only Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni showed some defensive application and they were suitably justified in playing out the new ball and then going after the bowling in the later stages. R Ashwin also played a handy role in helping MS Dhoni launch an assault on the bowlers in the slog overs. It was a Dhoni show, but the Indian batsmen were suitably exposed.
The first ball India bowled, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar got the ball to in-swing and take Hafeezs off-stump. But that was the only thing that gave Indian bowlers any hope. Kumar then persisted and he did bowl brilliantly to get Azhar Ali, but he did not have any support from the other end. Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda were not able to use the new ball to generate swing in bowler-friendly conditions and this lack of a genuine swing bowler was the reason India could not put more pressure on the Pakistani batsmen. By the time Ashwin was introduced into the attack, the game was reasonably in Pakistans favour. The umpires also did not give a few decisions that looked out in favour of the bowlers and this turned the tide in favour of the batting side. India also lacked a genuine fifth bowler and relied on the likes of Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Raina to bail them out. Needless to say, it was a toothless bowling display and only Ashwin and Kumar showed some signs of positive intent.
Pakistan deservedly won the first game and is now ahead in the series. The next ODI seems to have much in store and expect a brilliant contest when it starts!
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