Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bowlers take control of Champions Trophy 2006


The "Corridor of Uncertainty" and a surprisingly missing dew factor ended favourites Sri Lanka's party at the ICC Champions Trophy 2006 at the floodlit Motera. Jayasurya & Co. found the un-wet cricket ball too tough to handle and caved in pretty tamely in their do-or-die match against South Africa. With just one victory to their credit and their net run rate in the negative (-0.195), the Lankans have no chance of making it to the final four now. On current form, Pakistan and SA look like making it to the semifinals from Group B. My guess is India and West Indies will make it too. But therein lies the mistake, the same one which had led to Lanka being touted as the favourites.

The subcontinent's pitches are expected to be "eden gardens" for the batsmen. The only bowlers who succeed are the slow spinners. With the wickets offering little or no assistance to the bowlers, the batsmen can hit through the line without fears of dismissals. These factors make India and Lanka favourites - however with the Indian team being in awful one-day form, Lanka became the exclusive favourites. When the wickets failed to live upto their reputation, things changed. When Lanka lost to Pak, it was termed a surprising victory. You can't give that excuse now, after having watched their batsmen struggling against the accurate Protea seamers. India too made heavy weather of their modest target of 126 against England. Again, it was not the spinners who troubled India.

So it's the subcontinent alright, but the pacers seem to have taken control of the cricket....and Pollock, Ntini and Nel seem to be hitting the right line at the right time. My money is on SA now, with Bret Lee's Australia a close second. What's your say?

******

The India-Australia match is going to be one hell of an important match.
Click here to know why

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