Sunday, December 04, 2005

Back to Ground Zero

After the Ashes victory English Team must have been on cloud nine. But they have been brought to ground very painfully by the Pakistan team who just beat them 2-0 in the 3 test series. The series started with high-flying England fresh from their 2-1 Ashes victory over Australia in a confident mood to continue their unbeaten series run of over a year.

They were shown a preview of what lied in store for them in future with a series of batting collapses in the tour matches. But they started the test well led by the irrepressible Freddie Flintoff who again bowled his heart out to take some really crucial wickets, supported by some decent first innings batting performance they were on their way to another Test victory with a target of just 180 odd runs. But a miserable batting performance under some good bowling led by Shoaib Akhtar, Sami and Kaneria left them 0-1 down in the series where they SHOULD have been 1-0 up! Since then they were always doing the catching up. Good batting performance by Pieterson in both innings and Flintoff in 2nd innings helped them manage a draw in 2nd Test. While in 3rd test they squandered a 100+ runs first wkt partnership to get bowled out cheaply for 280 odd runs batting first. After that Pakistan simply made a run-riot. After losing 2-3 quick wkts M Yousuf (aka Yousuf Youhana) along with Kamran Akmal and the big Inzi led Pakistan to a gigantic score of 630 odd runs and at this time the best result possible for England was a draw. Ian Bell and Collingwood hung on for a big partnership but once Collingwood fell, England lost last 8 wkts in 43 runs to Shoaib and Kaneria to lose by an innings and 100 runs.

This big Pakistan series victory for me was marked by some inspirational batting by Inzamam and a reinvented Shoaib Akhtar. Not only Shoaib performed admirably well in his bowling (bowling with a lot of consistency throughout, mixing slower ones, yorkers et al) but his new found approach in batting was exceptional. Before this series he was looked as a tailender who can throw his bat a bit, but in this series he hung on for some match turning partnerships with Inzi in 2nd test and Yousuf in 3rd test. With both bat and ball he was simply great. This again proves that you need to give ur players some shock by dropping them, so that they don't become complacent. Yousuf too played quite well after a forgettable first test.

This surely will shut those mouths that were starting to say that England is the new number 1 team. Aussies haven't been the number team for so many years for nothing. They have build this position over a long period of time, not just overnight beating 1 or 2 teams. England are a pretty good team, but they still lack a bit of grittiness in the middle order. Collingwood and Bell did well in this test. But Pieterson and Flintoff are expected to do a bit more with the bat. In bowling it was pretty tough for the pacers on these unresponsive pitches, Flintoff bowled his heart out but still it wasn't enough. England desperately needs a quality spinner to take wickets on sub-continent tracks. They have an Indian tour coming up and neither Giles nor Udal (seeing by his no. of wickets in this series) seems not good enough to dislodge the in-form batting lineup of Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag, Sachin and Yuvraj (I hope he plays over Ganguly).

Let’s see how the England team gets over this huge loss. But a good team always bounces back so I expect English players will show some character and bounce back.

PS: Finally i got to play my first match in my on-going TT tournament, which turned out to be too easy with me winning by 21-1, 21-15. Now me into 3rd round of singles tournament, with a few tougher ties lying in front of me :)

No comments: