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Paradise lost but batters wising up

Having expected a run-feast before they came to India, most teams are now having to quickly re-think strategies, writes Tom Moody.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 00:17 IST
Tom Moody

Having expected a run-feast before they came to India, most teams are now having to quickly re-think strategies and options as the traditionally batsmen-friendly pitches are throwing up a few surprises.

The balance between batting and bowling is changing, an example of which is Brian Lara batting at No. 6 as he did against the Australians in Mumbai. I thought it was a very smart tactical move because it meant he would not risk facing the new ball on a slightly uncertain pitch, but could inflict maximum damage later.

We may see more such changes in strategy as the event progresses; though it is clear already that there are no clear favourites as yet. As I had mentioned earlier, the field is still wide open. We have already had some great contests, like our match against Pakistan or the West Indies-Australia encounter, and I feel we will see more of these from hereon.

Part of this is down to the pitches, of course. When a surface challenges batsmen and offers variable pace and bounce, it levels the playing field and gives more of a chance to the underdog. There has been a fair bit of criticism about the pitches on view thus far, but I would look at the bottom line, which is: just because teams are scoring less than 250 doesn't necessarily mean we will have a bad game of cricket, just as a score in excess of 350 does not assure a good game.

The group stage may have begun with our one-sided win against the West Indies and New Zealand's comprehensive victory against South Africa, but teams at this level tend to adjust to conditions pretty quickly, and given the relatively low scores, I have a feeling we will not see too many more one-sided games in the days ahead.

For instance, despite their bad outing against us, the West Indies were obviously better adjusted to the conditions against Australia, and the fact that they are an inherently talented side was pretty evident.

Or take our match against Pakistan — there was some quality batting and bowling on view from both sides, and Pakistan were obviously united in their desire to overcome their adverse situation and get on top of their game, as often happens when your back is to the wall.

Though we made a few errors that didn't help our cause — like not putting enough runs on the board — and the dew factor that has played such a major role in this tournament meant that the ball was skidding on to the bat.

When we play New Zealand on Friday, we have to keep in mind that their game is pretty much suited to these conditions, and they have traditionally been a very good side who always feature as dark horses. Our final team will not be decided until Friday, after we have had a good look at the wicket on Thursday. But with the conditions being what they are, I would ask all the boys to be prepared to play in the final eleven.