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India batsmen need to plug last 10-over blues

cricket Updated: Mar 24, 2011 01:19 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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The last 10 overs of an innings in a one-day match are usually the most productive for the team batting first. This is when the fireworks take place and a team reaches an unforeseen position, especially if it has wickets in hand. This was shown in no uncertain terms by New Zealand's against Pakistan in this World Cup.

For India, however, the last 10 overs have seen more ruins than runs when they have batted first, except for the first match against Bangladesh.

They did score a lot of runs against England in the slog overs but lost too many wickets that made the difference between victory and the eventual tie. Against South Africa and West Indies, they simply caved in (see box).

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said they have discussed it already.

"The crash they had against South Africa, losing nine wickets for 29 runs, we're aware of that. There have been some dramatic differences there (in the later stages). We know the sort of cricket we have to play in that period," he said on Wednesday.

India were unable to bat out the 50 overs against England, South Africa and West Indies despite reaching the 40-over stage with enough wickets in hand. Though it didn't prevent them from reaching the quarter-finals, it can be a major hindrance to their further progress.

MS Dhoni attributed it to a rush of blood. "In most of those games, we had wickets in hand and lost them in a bid to accelerate. We were trying to get as many runs as possible in those overs without thinking of anything else," he said about those collapses.

Dhoni, however, said: "If you lose two-three wickets in that period, you have to curb your natural instincts. Playing out the overs becomes more important in such a scenario even if it means scoring 20-odd runs in those overs instead of 40. We've to make sure the collapse doesn't happen again."

In Lee, Tait and Johnson, Australia possess the fastest bowling unit in contemporary cricket. Irrespective of the slow pitch, they can make life difficult for the Indians.

There will be other factors in the shootout. But for India to keep the dreams alive, this is one area they can't afford to err in. Other things may take care of themselves if they ensure this.