ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup 2011, Nagpur

A tale of two batting Powerplays

The game was decided in two five-over phases in each innings

Firdose Moonda in Nagpur

March 12, 2011

Comments: 72 | Text size: A | A

Dale Steyn is pumped after dismissing Yusuf Pathan for a duck, India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup, Nagpur, March 12, 2011
India botched up their batting Powerplay, South Africa took full toll of theirs © AFP
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It could be a moment that decides a match, sometimes a collection of moments, whether they follow in sequence or not. This time, it was two five-over long phases that made the difference - the two batting Powerplays that undid India and redid South Africa and in the end conspired to produce the result.

The batting Powerplay has proved a puzzle for most teams, not knowing whether to take it when the going is good and they have a chance at acceleration or when they are being bogged down and need to find a way out. South Africa used it in a situation similar to the latter, when they needed to wrestle the match away. It was at the start of the 37th over of their chase and the difference between runs required and balls remaining was 40, and the required rate was almost nine runs to the over.

To allow the chase to get further away from them would have left too much ground to be made up later on. Even though India had just run Jacques Kallis out and the pendulum and swung back in their favour, South Africa decided it was time to tussle for the advantage. It required careful calculation but they judged it well, after analysing their own batting and the bowling options that India had left at their disposal.

The middle order after JP Duminy is relatively untested, with Faf du Plessis, Morne van Wyk, Johan Botha and Robin Peterson only playing a role in the disastrous chase in Chennai last Sunday. de Villiers and Duminy were the last experienced pair and Graeme Smith decided they would be best placed to take advantage of the fact that Zaheer Khan was almost bowled out . "We had discussed it tactically and we knew that Zaheer had been their best bowler in the Powerplays. After he bowled his two in the middle, we thought it was a good time to take it and it worked out well," Smith said.

Zaheer was used for two of the Powerplay overs but South Africa still managed to score 52 runs for the loss of just de Villiers in that period. They brought the required rate down to eight by the end of the 41st over. It was a combination of luck, with de Villiers inside-edging for four in the first over, and aggressive intent, with Duminy, new at the crease, but aware of what he needed to do and able to pick the lines and lengths fluently.

When the Poweplay ended, Duminy had to escort the lower middle order through to the end. He ended up perishing in the cause but du Plessis and Botha were able to handle it on their own. It's likely they wouldn't have been able to if it wasn't for the work done in the Powerplay. It's also unlikely that the chase would have been on if it wasn't for damage South Africa's bowlers did during the India's batting Powerplay.

India were cruising on 253 for 1, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir were both comfortable and starting to build a mountain for South Africa to climb. In anticipation of that Everest, India were determined to get to the summit as quickly as possible and decided to use the Powerplay as their cable car to the top. "Often in Powerplays, you look to get a par-plus score," MS Dhoni said. He explained that India were hoping to add some bonus runs in that period, especially because they had wickets in hand, and it ended up having the opposite effect. "You look for those extra 25-30 runs and then you end up 40 runs short."

India's desperation in the Powerplay was evident, with Gambhir's urgency to return for a second run off the second ball Dale Steyn bowled; it would have had Tendulkar run out if there was a direct hit. He managed back-to-back boundaries off Morne Morkel but when Tendulkar attempted the same, he was dismissed. Steyn used the slower ball well and Kallis the full ball - each time they asked a question of the India batsmen, the answer was one of them holing out. Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj Singh gave their wickets away and in total India's Powerplay resulted in a score of 30 for 4.

That was all part of their grander collapse, 29 for 9, with five of those wickets going Steyn's way. The domino effect started with what happened in the Powerplay and instead of India aiming to regroup after that, they persisted in their pursuit of glory and crashed. "The Powerplay was the turning point," Dhoni admitted.

What may get overlooked is why India wanted to lash out in the Powerplay the way they did. They had been frustrated from after the first drinks break, because of a special spell by recalled offspinner Botha. With the score on 137 for 1 after 16 overs, the situation could so easily have got out of hand and the bushfire India had started could have burnt the entire forest down.

It was time for Botha, the senior spinner, the man who has been credited with being able to steer a cricket match in the direction he wants it to go, and he got into the driver's seat immediately. He should have had a wicket in his first over when Virender Sehwag was dropped by van Wyk. In the 15-over period where he bowled with Peterson, du Plessis, Steyn and Kallis at the other end, 66 runs were conceded.

It was a deliberate effort by Smith to create the situation where Botha could do that. "I didn't want to expose the two frontline spinners in the Powerplay because I wanted him [Botha] to control the middle overs. He bowled well in that period for us when we were getting taken to the cleaners." Botha did not feature in the Powerplays, but his performance around them was enough to script what would happen in that five-over phase where South Africa won the game.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Comments: 72 
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Posted by Desmond on (March 14, 2011, 8:28 GMT)

When batting powerplay should be taken? Immediately after the 1st (if 2nd bowling powerplay is not taken) or after the 2nd bowling powerplay if the two batsmen had a partnership of 4-5 overs which means they have judged the bounce and speed of the pitch. Otherwise, immediately after the mandatory ball change (35th over) if you have at least 7 wickets in hand and the 2 batsmen already have a good partnership, else in the last 5 overs of the innings. If it is taken immediately after bowling powerplay (1st or 2nd) or 35th over and 2 wickets fall or the going gets tough (no scoring opportunities), do not panic and do not think that you must score at 8-10 runs per over in the batting powerplay (do the batsmen not think the same in the first bowling powerplay?). Even if you don't score runs, you will save wickets and the opposition will use their best bowlers. You will be left with other bowlers' overs to score at in the end.

Posted by Cricinfouser on (March 14, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

The powerplay is like bait that is given out to batsmen. Even if you are scoring more than runs per over without the power play you tend to take it and bat differently. For teams like India and England batting first I would suggest that they should not take powerplay till 45th over. Even if you take PP bat as normally as you have been batting the lofted shot should be a bonus not the main course. Every team has its strength and weakness India should concentrate on its strength (batting) and try to bat opposition out of the game. Another very important point. Even though you have the best batting line in the world, Batsman should bat as if there is no one to follow him. In search of 400 they could not even score 300.Thanks God this not knockout.Its good to have lesson learnt and work on it. May be its good thing that India lost a match. This will help to put things in perspective.Remember , no team is perfect in this WC. The team which will do less mistake will win the World Cup.INDIA

Posted by Ashok on (March 14, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

Dhoni pls bring in Ashwin for Nehra and bring Raina for Kohli.. kohli can b effective outside subcontinent..but raina s too gud in subcontinent pitches. i'm sure if raina would have been in ins-Sa match things would have changed.

Posted by Ashok on (March 14, 2011, 6:53 GMT)

india shouls have took the powerplay after 15th over with sachin n shewag firing...

Posted by Anup on (March 14, 2011, 5:11 GMT)

Team India will have to keep on dreaming of winning the Cup again unless they perform 200% better as a TEAM, not just the batters OR the bowlers but AS A TEAM ... and they make sure that they PLAY OUT ALL THE 50 OVERS !!!!

Posted by Piyush on (March 14, 2011, 5:08 GMT)

The fact that "when Sachin scores a century India loses" is highly misleading and inaccurate. In fact only people who don't know ABC of cricket and just make statement after reading on net etc can make such absurd comments. One simple stat, of his 48 ODI hundreds, in only 13 centuries, India suffered defeats, and thanks to these 100s our defeat looked respectable. Imagine, without this Sachin's 100, this Nagpur thriller would have looked such a one-sided game with India loosing by over 100 runs.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2011, 3:39 GMT)

Hey Why should Peoples are blemming on Sachin ? He played his part cleaverly and given excellent base (Platform) to take off for huge total. If u wants to blem than Blem Middle order who had tried to hit boundries on each and every ablls and given extra effort to make extra runs totally unprofessional approach. No one can hit boundries on each and every ball u must have to stick on cricket basic with some improvising shots. Also India all out before 50 overs which was also cause problem think if there will be 10 more runs ?

Why India playing with Gambhir and Kohli both are known to take time ! replace anyone with Raina. Also Replace Nehra with Ishant by giving injury reason to boost up Pace bowling (just like Australia did)

India has strong batting lineup than why not playing with 5 Regular Bowlers they have no confidence over their strong batting line up ? Ashwing is deserving his place in playing XI

If india make Semifinal than its their Good Luck!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 13, 2011, 23:57 GMT)


Posted by Rod on (March 13, 2011, 19:03 GMT)

Saggygreen, perhaps agree, but only if you ignore Murali and Brett Lee, and a host of others.

Posted by Lalit on (March 13, 2011, 15:34 GMT)

I feel bad for Sachin, he did all he could to get India in a formidable position but Dhoni, Yuvraj, Kohli, Pathan could not even get settled. Dhoni who had batted with Tendulkar at Gwalior last year to get India 400+ but was not able to hit anything yesterday. I think even with the weak bowling attack India had, the bowlers did very well and I was surprised that SA did not finish the match in 42 overs on such a good batting pitch and a weak bowling attack. Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra's body language was that of a part time medium pacer and that took the game away. R Ashwin would have been there in place of Nehra. Nehra could not contain the SA batsmen and was just smiling helpessly on every hit he took. I am sure team India will gain some experience from yesterday and not repeat the mistakes. I think its time for Yusuf Pathan to go and Raina to come in. Also, R Ashwin is needed as he has the agression needed from a bowler to make a difference.

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