January 24, 2011

Indian domestic cricket

Central's resources trump East's resolve

Aakash Chopra
RP Singh bowls in the nets, Kingston, June 24, 2009
RP Singh bowled with great control in the second innings  © Associated Press
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

We, Central Zone, had the resources. With an all-India bowling attack by our side, we could well give sleepless nights to most domestic teams. The track, quite unusual for a domestic game, had a thorough covering of fresh grass with enough moisture underneath to make the ball talk, in fact shout in this case. And with a ball like the Kookaburra, used exclusively in the Duleep Trophy, difficult to handle of a responsive surface, it was just going to get tougher for the batsmen, especially the openers and No. 3.

The toss was crucial and after winning it, we quite carelessly assumed the job was half done. And perhaps, that's where we got it all wrong.

We didn't bowl in the right areas and allowed the opposition to get off the hook, a fatal mistake regardless of the quality of resources at hand. We squandered the advantage and East grabbed it with both hands. Both Manoj Tiwary and Ishank Jaggi (a talented cricketer from MS Dhoni's land) helped themselves to fine centuries, though guilty of not converting them into big ones, something they might be regretting now.

We, on the other hand, realised our mistakes. We tried to undo our errors with the second new ball and managed a mini-comeback to restrict the East Zone from posting a mammoth total. Four hundred and twenty-eight was by no means paltry, but at 284 for 2, one would have expected them to exceed 500 with ease. They failed to, and in spite of mounting the pressure, East didn't bat us completely out of the game.

If Central Zone had the resources, East Zone had the resolve. They made up for their lower batting order failure with a spirited bowling effort. The Kookaburra ball behaves in a very peculiar fashion, it swings and seams (if the conditions are conducive) while it's new. Both the shine and seam disappears the moment it gets old and it becomes hard toil for the bowlers (more about the Kookaburra ball in my next column). East's bowling was not even half as threatening as ours but their discipline and hunger to gain the first-innings lead made all the difference. They bowled their heart out and with a lot of discipline, to gain a slender lead, which everyone thought was enough to book a place in the semi-finals.

But Pankaj Singh and co. had other plans. They ran in hard, hit the right areas consistently and made the ball swing and seam. If Pankaj bowled with a lot of pace, RP Singh bowled with a lot of control. Then Umesh Yadav came and blew away the rest, for his pace was too hot to handle for the lower order. Orissa Cricket Association deserves a special mention for making a track which had something in it for the bowlers even on the last day. The bounce was consistent (slightly higher than the slow/low tracks we find in most other venues) and there was enough movement off the surface if you pitched the ball in the right areas. The grass remained green till the last day and wasn't there just to keep the surface together.

We wouldn't have clawed our way back into the game if the track had been docile. Kudos to the curator! This particular game showed, once again, that talent without resolve is simply not good enough. And if talented men put their mind to matter, even the inconceivable can be achieved.

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

RSS Feeds: Aakash Chopra

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Gabriela on (October 9, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

- I absolutely adore the bride and groom's faacil expression. They're so utterly happy. The old couple walking by is cute too, they appear to be thinking aw, young love . And how could I forget pig man over in the corner, he just rocks!

Posted by back foot punch on (January 27, 2011, 6:06 GMT)

aakash,u r having the times of your life.the midas touch to be precise,go get juggernauting,keep rolling the oppositions,hope tp see ya in rajasthan royals!

Posted by ab.advani on (January 26, 2011, 13:18 GMT)

Hi Akash, How come players like Sudeep Tyagi and Bhuvanesh Kumar are not in the Central team ? Sudeep along with Umesh Yadav were the only two Indian bowlers in IPL who touched 140+ kph -Bhuvanesh has been a gritty allrounder for UP for a long while and yet he doesn't get to play in the Duleep trophy

Posted by Karthick R on (January 25, 2011, 17:26 GMT)

Hi Aakash, I have to say I always enjoy reading your articles. I am from TN and am a avid supporter of south zone :) but I must add that I respect & applaud great performances from other teams - especially like this comeback victory from central zone. Its very heartening to see that all 2nd innings wickets for central were taken by pacers and that too youngsters like Umesh, Pankaj and RP. This definitely augurs well for Indian cricket. Also congrats on your unbeaten 59* in the second innings. All the best of luck for all your future games. Cannot wait for your next article on the mysteries of the kookaburra ball. It'll be great if you can add as to how you think it will influence say maybe day night games in the World Cup.

Posted by Vish on (January 25, 2011, 15:18 GMT)

There should be an Akash in every team. An astonishing writer with the technical savvy on Cricket!

But it would be great to hear from a writer in every team with their view points on the match.

Maybe cricinfo can have a blog on every match page, where (only) the players and/or umpires write about the game on a day by day basis.

Posted by Shukur Basha on (January 25, 2011, 2:01 GMT)

Kaif has been purposely denied by the selectors since a long time even he has performed better than the others.. He surely deserves the place in the Indian squad.. All the best Kaif..

Posted by Yash Paprikar on (January 24, 2011, 17:12 GMT)

it was very good to see the way central came back in the second innings.well done and good luck.

Posted by Siva Paturi on (January 24, 2011, 14:50 GMT)

Surprised to see no mention of Kaif. But that being said, it was a great game. we are seeing these kind of guys a bit more these days than before because of lively pitches. I think BCCI should also do something about the run rate. Otherwise, the teams will have no incentive to go for the win when they can simply bat as long as they want to get a first innings lead.

Posted by BNS on (January 24, 2011, 11:30 GMT)

Hey Akash ! what do u have to say abt the performance of Mohd. Kaif ? The forgotten hero of Indian Cricket. I beleive he is as good as Yuvraj if not better. He makes up with his resolve and committment what Yuvraj has in abundance...."Talent". It was Kaif and Bundela's innings which kept central in the game..and then bowlers made East batting ridiculous in 2nd innings. I wish Central goes on to win the next 2 games.

Posted by Mohan on (January 24, 2011, 10:05 GMT)

Well I think Akash is exaggerating himself and his team.The Next Match is against South Zone.They are the strongest bunch now available and are favourites to win the trophy. Better Luck for Akash to come good against them.Worth seeing contest.Dissapointing that the match was not covered live by either Neo Cricket(because of clash of commitments with New Zealand Cricket)or Cricinfo.Hope Cricinfo do the live coverage.

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

All articles by this writer