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Cleaned, condemned and castled

That?s the fate of the world?s greatest batting line-up, writes Atul Sondhi. Did green top made Indians see red?

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 21:01 IST

Target400 plus

The image was haunting and will be replayed in millions of mind, thousands of time. Sachin Tendulkar on his knees, castled...and all Indian hopes gone.

With India reeling at 74for four in the second innings at Karachi and Sachin out of the battle,India would surely lose. Right? Wrong !

In fact, India had lost the battle on the day three itself when Pakistan crossed the magic figure of 400, a fourth innings score successfully chased only three times before.

 Countries Season Target Margin of victory
 WI vs Aus 2002-03 418 3 wickets
 Ind vs WI 1975-76 403 6 wickets
 WI vs Aus 1948 404 7 wickets

Poor Chasers

But with the likes of ‘belligerent’ Sehwag, ‘sensational’ Sachin and 'captain cool' Dravid in their ranks, eternal optimists expected India to repeat the magical feet of the 1975-76 series.

And on a pitch which had overnight turned into a batting paradise, it was certainly not impossible. But the fourth innings averages of top Indians, especially when chasing big scores, were certainly not encouraging.

Top five Indian batsmen in 400 plus chases

 Players 4th inn avg 4th inn avg chasing 400 plus
 Virender Sehwag     30.56 28.33
 Rahul Dravid 50.79 48.83
 VVS Laxman 28.33 27.60
 Sachin Tendulkar 34.88 37.42
 Sourav Ganguly 34.18 32.80

‘’Chasing knocks’’ of India's top batsmen clearly reveal that India's best chance of forcing a win is usually a big score in the 1st innings, which could not be replayed now.

Except Dravid, nobody has managed to cross even 40 when hunting a big target, and this effort from top five batsmen was certainly not going to be enough.

A cumulative average of less than 200 in the fourth innings when chasing more than 400 meant the match was as good as over even though Dhoni and Pathan can hardly be termed as tail.

And that’s how it ended. In the second innings at Karachi, the top five contributed just 90 to a total of 265, less then half of their fourth innings average.

One good knock is enough

What was more disappointing was the mode of dismissal of the top five Indian batsmen in both the innings. Out of ten, only one came in the deep when Sourav was caught hooking.

In nine other cases, suspect defences were left cruelly exposed. And, save Rahul Dravid, Indian top six’s inability to play two good knocks in the series was also fully exposed.

Indian top order

 Players Series Avg Avg without highest score
 Rahul Dravid 80.33 37.66
 Virender Sehwag      73.50 13.33
 Sachin Tendulkar    21.00 18.50
 VVS Laxman 46.00 24.00
 Sourav Ganguly 35.50 34.00
 Yuvraj Singh 57.00 24.50

Pakistan top order

 Players Series Avg Avg without highest score
 Salman Butt 24.00 16.75
 Kamran Akmal     97.66 90.00
 Younis Khan    110.60 88.50
 Md. Yousuf 92.20 72.00
 Inzamam-ul-Haq 60.00 1.00
 Shahid Afridi 66.00 43.50

Dravid's average without his highest score was less than half of his series average while Sehwag's fell by 1/5. The top two Indian performers of the last series in 2004 had failed miserably.

On the other hand, Younis, Yousuf and Akmal gave more than one good performance to take the series away from India.

After dull draws at Lahore and Faisalabad, this difference in the form of the top performers was to show at some time or the other. And it was to be at Karachi. In the process, India were also handed one of their biggest defeats in the game...their second heaviest.

India's biggest defeats (in runs)

 Runs Opp Venue Season
 342 Aus Nagpur 2004-05
 341 Pak Karachi 2005-06
 329 SA Kolkata 1996-97
 328 SA Kingsmead 1996-97
 300 Aus Perth 1991-92

Incidentally, all five of these 'batting lessons' have come after the debut of arguably India's greatest batsman -- Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 17:46 IST