September 24, 2008

Irani Trophy

Nightmare becomes dream

Aakash Chopra
Anil Kumble drives during his innings of 9, Delhi v Rest of India, Irani Cup, Vadodara, 1st day, September 24, 2008
 © AFP


The day didn't quite start the way we would've liked it to. We lost the toss on a typical win-the-toss-and-bat-first wicket. Though the conditions favour playing two spinners, the lack of a quality spinner among our ranks meant that we went in with our four best bowlers: three seam bowlers and Chetanya Nanda, the lone spinner.

On the other side, the ROI team opted to play five bowlers, which meant playing only five batsmen. But with MS Dhoni as the wicket-keeper, one could afford to play with one less batsman. I've played quite a few games for the ROI, and one thing has always been in common: playing five bowlers. Considering the quality of batting at their disposal, five batsmen are normally more than enough.

ROI started the day strongly, and looked in command. The ball wasn't doing anything in the air, nor off the surface. We were forced to play the waiting game, and maintaining a disciplined line and length, hoping that the batsman would commit a mistake. Even though the ball wasn't doing anything alarming off the surface, it wasn't easy to hit the ball square: the ball wasn't coming on to the bat too well, and the bounce was on the lower side. The track looked very dry on top, but perhaps there's a lot of moisture underneath and hence the ball is coming on slowly after pitching.

Once the ROI started losing wickets, we managed to tighten the noose with some inspired bowling from Ishant Sharma, Pradeep Sangwan and Nanda. All of them bowled with a lot of discipline, and maintained a tight leash. One disadvantage of playing five bowlers is that if a couple of your top-order batsmen fail and the ones who get the starts don't score big, the longish tail gets exposed a little too soon. That's exactly what happened with the ROI today, and once we saw the backs of Dhoni and Mohammad Kaif, we knew we were in with a good chance. The tail might wag for a while on surfaces like this, but when grinding is the mantra they struggle to inflict substantial damage.

Looking back at the way the day panned out, we are very satisfied with our efforts. At one stage, we were having nightmares of spending a day and half in the field waiting for the ROI to declare, but little did we know that we would be batting on the first day itself. Now the onus is on us to capitalise on our excellent bowling performance, and pile on a big score to bat the ROI out of this game.

We know that this won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination as they have a very competent attack at their disposal. The track has assisted the spinners today, which means that it will only get tougher to bat on as we come out to chase in the last innings against Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. We must seize the initiative on the second day because they have enough quality bowling and batting in their ranks to get back into the match.

But right now, it's advantage Delhi. :)

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Fahad on (September 25, 2008, 18:43 GMT)

But right now, it's advantage Delhi. :)

Posted by Shekhar Kale on (September 25, 2008, 18:02 GMT)

Aakash, I liked the way you played your short innings. I expected you to stay longer with Sehwag. Sehwag has ability to change the game in few overs, agreed, but he always gives chances to the bowler. I love him for his shots, but I like your batting because it offers solidity. Top 3 batsman of Delhi team are test batsmen and I expect them to put more runs than mere 80-90. I like your article and I am a follower of your writings. Please keep on giving us all the insights that makes you different from other cricket writers. Best luck for 2nd innings. I know you all need to fight it out. I would like to see Delhi team fight till the end in bowling as well as batting and not just give up. regards.

Posted by Homer on (September 25, 2008, 17:05 GMT)

Dream turned into nightmare yet or will this get added to the "Not a damaging loss" category?

Posted by Ms. Robin on (September 25, 2008, 11:58 GMT)

Way to go, ROI!!!! Day 2- advantage ROI. Good match, like to see that it will probably be suspenseful.

Posted by Srijith on (September 25, 2008, 10:16 GMT)

It's nice to see Ishant finding nick and getting wickets as he would be playing a key role in the match against Aussies. Go India go!!!! :) :)

Posted by Jose on (September 25, 2008, 9:48 GMT)

We love to see you and Sehwag open for India.

Posted by Biju on (September 25, 2008, 9:38 GMT)

An optimistic and sensible one.Good luck Akash.I wish delhi beat ROI and prove that there better cricketers who are waiting for chances while this veterans are not giving you a way.I wish you score a double hundred in the 2 nd innings.Good luck

Posted by George on (September 25, 2008, 9:19 GMT)

WEll said Akash.. Infact i would say well played considering the condition of the match at this moment. But the thing is that u have ROI has been underestimated a bit more considering "We lost the toss on a typical win-the-toss-and-bat-first wicket". Anywayz all the best 4 the rest of the match.

Posted by Manhar Patel (Toronto) on (September 25, 2008, 8:46 GMT)

It is looks like not so easy to bat on this track. You have done very well in the first innings. You went little too fast, your strike rate 62 bit higher. Some how most cricket loving Indian suddenly care about you and like you. Good luck in second inning, wish you hit TON and open your test door with a big bang. I am egger to see you paying next TEST match. Hard work and talent is there but need a little blessing from all mighty, may God bless you. Vengsarkar are you watching my man!

Posted by Mumsy on (September 25, 2008, 7:57 GMT)

well said Akash..Ur blog is very good. I think ROI made a huge mistake. They had to send Kaif as onedown .I dont think Badri is agood choice as firstdown. this mach would be tough one for your team.ny wqy all the best

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Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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