Monday, February 13, 2006

The Height of Stupidity

The India-Pakistan ODI is on. ODIs are getting increasingly irritating, with every outing a photocopy of the previous one. The ones in future are unlikely to be any different. People seem to love this run feast, this systematic mental disintegration of the bowling class. But such injustice cannot continue forever-the proletariat, err bowlers, shall revolt, sooner or later. And when that happens, may the God of cricket (whoever he is) save the batsmen from the wrath of the deliberate underarms and the beamers. And the squishers (a new type of delivery specifically invented for the revolution).

But today's match is different. I will remember this for a long, long time. Not because Shoaib Malik and Razzak batted well. Or because Pathan bowled well. A certain decision of the Indian team management, to me, will replace "a man looking through the keyhole of a transperent glass door" as the new height of stupidity.

Imagine this-India won the toss, elected to field and yet........and yet had Zaheer Khan as the super-sub. What were they thinking? We all know that Kiron More considers Zaheer Khan as the biggest Indian all-rounder since Kapil Dev, but who would have thought that Dravid & Co would actually take the joker's words seriously?Surely Zaheer Khan must be a dashing all-rounder, which is why India picked him as a super-sub in spite of knowing that they'd field if they won the toss.

Much has been said and written about teams' inability to comprehend and make the best use of the new rules of super-sub and powerplay. Nowhere is it more evident than in the case of India and Pakistan. The logic is fairly obvious-always, as a rule, use an all-rounder as a super-sub. That way you minimise the risk of an unfavourable outcome of the toss.

In the first ODI, Pakistan, inexplicably, opted for Powerplay 2 & 3 during overs 11 to 20. This when Pathan, and then Dhoni were going great guns. That defeats the basic idea of the powerplay-where teams can strategise and accordingly allocate the 20 'tough' overs.

It seems that the Indian team management is yet to appreciate that a super-sub is not exactly a 12th man-he's much more than that.

Would Ganguly have done something so stupid? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

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