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Sachin settling down well in his new role

Yurvaj allowed Dhoni to play his natural strokes while rotating the strike regularly. Such understanding at the centre adds to the real growth of the team, writes Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 19:07 IST

The Lahore one-dayer had all the necessary ingredients one could ask for in the shorter version of the game. While the pitch brought the much needed balance between the bat and the ball along with some exhilarating cricket, it also produced enough bounce and movement with the new ball in both the innings. And as the innings progressed, it allowed the set batsmen to really capitalise on their efforts.

The movement and bounce was so much that only batsmen with good technique could survive initially. Batsmen like Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi, Irfan Pathan and Gautham Ghambir struggled as the new ball called for patience and thorough applications of proper basics. On pitches like this, only quality players excel.

India's emphatic win also sent a new message. For a long time the focal point of Indian batting used to be Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

Now there is a marked change in the known structure. It is no more just an instance of southpaw Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni doing the scoring. It is now quite apparent that the names of Yuvraj and Dhoni could be added to the elite list of Indian batting, which was the domain of Sachin, Rahul and Virender Sehwag.

The most impressive and matured part of Yuvraj's innings came after Dhoni's arrival. Yurvaj allowed Dhoni to play his natural strokes while rotating the strike regularly. It was a selfless thought on the part of Yuvraj to allow Dhoni to prosper at the crease. He assumed the role of a senior facilitating his partner to launch. Such understanding at the centre adds to the real growth of the team.

Sachin is settling down well in his newly defined role. Even the expectations of the people have re-aligned to see Sachin to play more of a sheet anchor role.

Rahul won the crucial toss and his decision to bowl first was not surprising. It was a shot in the arm for the Indian fast bowling department when all five fast bowlers were picked including Zaheer Khan as the super sub. To make use of the super sub in the team bowling first is still something new.

Zaheer had to wait in anticipation to know if he was required to fill up for some one. At one time the leader of the pack, Zaheer is now reduced to a reserve, who is trying to serve as a fill-up. The ignominy of being out of the side is one thing, but being called in to replace another bowler in the new form of the game must be traumatic.

This could be detrimental for the bowler sent back where as the captain might feel that he is empowered to use an extra new bowler from the reserve.

Take the case of Zaheer, who was sitting in the dressing room and could never realise that he would be bowling in ten minutes after Ajit Agarkar had to go back with a back strain. Zaheer was totally caught unaware and that reflected in his bowling too.

Or the theory would be that Zaheer should be sharp and prepared all time sitting in the dressing room. I think if it is not handled well, the idea of a super sub might prove costly for bowlers.

Among other Indian bowlers, like Shreesanth, RP Singh also showed lot of promises in this game.

The wicket at Multan would be a flat one, much to the liking of Pakistan. That would give the hosts a distinct edge. But Indians would have a great chance to avenge their defeat in the Test series if they can win at Multan and seal off the One-day series.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 13:12 IST