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|January 21, 2000||
Lost in the middleBobby Simpson
India's defeat by Pakistan was yet another example of a lost opportunity. In almost every match India has played in Australia they were in with a chance, but have not been able to grasp them. Unfortunately it appears as though they lack the inspiration and toughness to make their own luck. That they should have denied themselves two vital overs, by once again bowling too slowly, was unimaginable in a must win match like this.
Sachin Tendulkar has to accept the blame, for this has been a long standing problem with India. It is just not professional enough to allow this to happen and indeed neither was it good enough to have part time bowlers and his most inexperienced bowlers deliver the dead overs.
Mohanty is a wonderful strike bowler early on, but has a proven history of going for a lot of runs in his later overs. He should not have been on when Pakistan probably won the match by taking nearly 50 runs in the last few overs. And neither should Tendulkar and Ganguly been bowling at this time.
A similar picture was evident when India batted. Both Ganguly and Tendulkar got India off to a brilliant start and approaching 100 they were scoring at over 6 runs per over. Once Ganguly was dismissed the innings disintegrated as the batting became slower and slower.
So often India have suffered overseas on the larger grounds in the middle overs. With the ball getting softer and the fieldsmen back, boundaries are much harder to obtain in Australia that they are on the tiny, fast Indian grounds. Quick singles, fast two's and energetic and precise running between wickets is the key to batting during this time.
Unfortunately, it appears that India have lost both the knack and the sharpness to prosper at this time. Surely this must be the perfect batting time, vide open gaps, fieldsmen in defensive position and the ball old and doing little. In these circumstances the Indian batsmen seem to be mesmerised as they continually hit the ball to the in-fielders or straight at the outfielders when balls hit either side would pick up at least two runs every time.
Hobart was also probably the best batting wicket that India has played on all season. It was perfectly paced for playing shots and had little of the bounce that has worried the Indian batsmen this season.
Sachin played a captain's knock, but he is still not playing at his best and his footwork is slow and lacks the precision we usually expect of this magnificent player. It seems to me that captaincy as it did in his last stint as leader of his country is hindering his performances. I can sympathise with him in this regard, for captaining a team and being the leading batsman is not easy. Particularly, if the batting around you is fragile and you feel if you get out then the whole team collapses. I am sure this is what Sachin feels and indeed this is what is happening.
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