‘Fifty overs felt longer than usual’
Teams batting second have folded meekly in the two matches of the Kitply Cup. Overcast and windy conditions have helped the medium-pacers from Pakistan and India in the evenings.
Pakistan won by 70 runs against Bangladesh but went down heavily to India by double the margin, their worst defeat to their traditional opponents. Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz exploited the conditions to dismiss the first five Bangladeshi batsmen for less than 100, Praveen Kumar (4-53) and Ishant Sharma gave Pakistan a taste of their own medicine.
India's new-ball bowlers were helped by the change in weather and the 20-minute rain intermission that made life difficult for the Pakistan top-order. This was in contrast to the conditions that Man-of-the-Match Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir enjoyed while they went about attacking the Pakistan bowlers. Captain Shoaib Malik, encouraged by the help the pitch afforded the quick bowlers on Sunday dropped a spinner and went with four of medium pacers on Tuesday, a move that backfired.
"It was a good toss to win," said Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "What I was waiting to see after one-and-a-half months of T20 was the transition into the 50-over mode. Fifty overs felt a bit longer than usual. But it was nice to start with a win, the bowling was good, the fielding was up to the mark."
Praveen seems to have settled down well into the role of opening bowler, bowling longer first spells, using his wrist intelligently and unsettling the top order, hitting the right areas and getting the ball to move. "It was an ideal start from Praveen and Ishant," Dhoni said with a smile.
Dhoni's support for youngsters like Praveen again came to the fore. "It is not about seniors or juniors, it is all about having a good side that can give its best. This is an ideal opportunity for them since there are not many experienced players," Dhoni said.
"Opportunities like these will help them to experience what international cricket is all about. The pitch was tough and it was not easy to go to bat and straightaway start rotating the strike and get after the bowlers.
A ball of trouble
The Kookaburra balls used for India’s match against Pakistan on Tuesday lost their colour less than halfway into the innings, making life very difficult for the batsmen. The black soil used on the wicket only made matters worse, and the teams asked the ICC to let them change the ball much before the mandatory change after 34 overs.
"We have sent in our request to the ICC to allow us to change the ball in this tournament if both the captains agree to it," India coach Gary Kirsten said. "We don't think it will be allowed for tomorrow's match (against Bangladesh), which is understandable. But hope the ICC allows us to do that as an additional clause to the local playing conditions in the final," he added.