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Firdose Moonda at Wanderers
October 9, 2012
It's a sign of the times that a total of 130 in 20 overs is a described as below par. But, Twenty20 cricket has produced attitudes that think anything less than eight runs an over, or thereabouts, is not competitive enough, and Sialkot showed why that way of thinking persists as their below-par total was chased with ease.
Sialkot's score resulted from a combination of a start that was too slow for them to make up and conditions that favoured Auckland's attack. Kyle Mills and Michael Bates gave away only 11 runs in the first five overs and both got the ball to nip away off the seam against tentative Sialkot openers.
"Having a good start is something we target. Kyle Mills prides himself on using that first over to set the momentum," Gareth Hopkins, the Auckland captain, said. "But it was also a tricky wicket to bat on, especially with the new ball."
Mills was Man of the Match for his spell of 4-1-6-2, an effort he aid was due to a disciplined line. "I was conscious of not giving away any width and bowling on off stump," he said. "We built pressure from both ends and they were always on the back foot."
Shoaib Malik thought the use of the heavy roller during the break between matches could have brought up moisture from the morning rain - Johannesburg's first showers in over two weeks - to the surface and added to his side's difficulty. To get 130 on that surface and after that start was something Malik was proud of. "It was very tough when we were batting and the Auckland bowlers used the conditions well, but Shahid Yousuf batted brilliantly in the end. I thought it was enough."
Hopkins, however, suspected it was not and half the job was done. "When I looked at the first game [Yorkshire v Uva Next], I thought 150 was a little light," he said. "I actually thought something around 160 would be par." Andrew McDonald, the Uva allrounder who played in the day's first match, said his team thought a score of around 170 was par.
Taking those estimations into account, Sialkot were well short of a defendable total but Hopkins thought his team could have restricted them further. "If we had been better with certain areas of our game we think we could have had them for less, especially because there was a lot of sideways movement," he said. "We still saw them get under the length balls and hit us for six."
Sialkot scored 60 runs in sixes, almost half of their eventual total, and that number pointed to the lapses Hopkins spoke about. Those were not the only signs of rustiness among teams on the first day of the Champions League qualifiers. Both matches did not produce cricket of the highest quality. In particular, the fielding fumbles and soft dismissals from all four sides made it groan-worthy at times.
The poor turnout was also disappointing, although not much more could have been expected at this stage of the event. Little is known about the teams trying to qualify and few people have time to make new sporting discoveries in a busy city on a weekday. What they will know is that Yorkshire and Auckland are one step closer to the tournament and to playing in front of bigger crowds in South Africa.
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