For those who had doubts about how Twenty20 cricket would impact other forms of cricket, especially one-day cricket, evidence was on offer in India’s breezy win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup. The manner in which India’s batsmen made easy work of a target of 300 tells a tale in two parts.
The first thing that you just can’t help notice is how the pitches are playing in Pakistan. Of course, these games were always going to be played on flat tracks, but when you see teams chase down 300 with almost eight overs to spare, you know that the bowlers are in for plenty of hard work.
When you’re chasing big scores, starts become vitally important and the manner in which Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina built a partnership after Gautam Gambhir fell, set things up for India.
We all know what Sehwag is capable of but it’s good to see Raina getting into the groove at this level.
He is in good form and kicking things off with a century against Hong Kong was one thing, but his brilliant knock against Pakistan was heart warming.
The way in which Sehwag toyed with the spinners brings me to my second point. After Twenty20, people have not got used to chasing bigger scores, which translates to scoring at a high rate over a sustained period of time. Sehwag seemed to be picking off Fawad Alam, the left-arm spinner, choosing at will which ball to send sailing over the ropes.
The spinner’s job in ODIs was a tough one to begin with, but after Twenty20, it’s just going to get that much harder, especially on flat pitches where there’s no purchase at all from the surface.
It’s tough to criticise Pakistan’s batsmen after they put together 299, but you can’t help wondering if they fell 20-30 runs short with Shoaib Malik retiring hurt with cramps in the 40th over.
He was the set batsman on 125 and perhaps he could have pushed harder in the last overs had he been at the crease. But anyway, India had reached 200 in the 25th over itself, and were in prime position to chase down an even bigger target.
We’re going to see this happen more and more in 50-over cricket, where 300 is not a safe score. Teams will back themselves to score at eight an over, and when they have wickets in hand, targets of 370-380 are going to be overhauled with increasing regularity.
Looking back about 15 years, even 220 was a good score, but now after Twenty20, nothing seems safe.
Just moving away from the Asia Cup for a moment, some of us — who are in the mix in the Tests but not part of the ODIs — are involved in a camp in Bangalore and it’s been a good three days so far.
There’s been a bit of rain throughout the country and it’s nice to go out and get a hit and a bowl in the middle. So far the weather has held, with only the odd short interruption from the Bangalore rain. It was good to see Zaheer Khan coming along well after injury. He bowled about 12 overs and is working up a good rhythm. Although we have been training and working on fitness, the focus in this camp has been on core skills and we still have four days ahead of us.