We?re not so bad after all
So, we are not so bad after all. Certainly not as bad as we were made out to be after we lost to India at home earlier this year. Since that home series we have beaten India twice -- once each in Sri Lanka and Holland -- and have done so quite convincingly on both occasions.
The margins of victory are quite significant. It has all been possible because of two reasons -- improved fitness and discipline. In the last match against India at home, we scored almost 300 and still lost the match. In the Asia Cup, we made 300 and won the game.
On Saturday, we scored at almost six runs per over in 33 overs and won handsomely. So, you see, the rate at which we have been scoring has more or less remained the same. What has made the winning difference is our discipline in bowling.
Our pace bowlers let themselves and the team down at home by bowling too many wides and no-balls. On an average, we were contributing 35 runs to the Indian total and also bowling 5-6 overs more. This is not the case these days.
I have always maintained that extras cut both ways. If bowlers show more discipline, the batsmen come under additional pressure to find those extra runs off their bat. Also, the bowlers' confidence is boosted when they know that no extra balls have to be delivered. All this has been possible with higher fitness levels that we have been able to build up.
It showed in our fielding as well. The manner in which we moved on the field and took our catches showed underlined this fact. We need to keep working in this area as fitness is one area where the teams from the sub-continent find it hard to match up to other teams in the world.
It was good for us that Sachin Tendulkar was missing from the Indian line-up. Conditions were difficult and India would have definitely benefited from his class and experience not only with the bat but also with the ball. I hope he recovers soon, for fans all over the world love to watch him.
The problem with teams from the sub-continent is as soon as you lose a few games, the knives are out and criticism mounts. I can understand what Sourav Ganguly and his team is going through these days, for I was in a similar situation few months back. India have had a wonderful 18 months during the course of which they tasted a lot of success, but in international cricket, you have got to take the rough with the smooth. India are still a good team and it would be stupid to write them off.
We play Australia next, secure in the knowledge that the bonus point we earned against India virtually assures us of a place in the final. However, nothing would please me more than to upset the world champions. It would a good test for my team without the pressure of a do-or-die scenario for a change.