Contrasting opening salvos

On the Ball

On the ball with Siddhartha Vaidyanathan and Arun Gopalakrishnan
Pakistan were a class apart in almost every department in the final one-dayer at Delhi, but the difference between the opening bowlers from each side was particularly stark. The Indian bowlers conceded 103 runs in the first 15 overs largely due to their erratic line in the early stages. Half-volleys on leg stump were flicked away by Shahid Afrid and Co. as 56 runs were gifted away in the 42 balls that were delivered on and outside leg stump. A few hours later, Naved-ul-Hasan and the rest homed in on an accurate line outside off, 74 deliveries in the first 15 overs as opposed to 30 by the Indians, and there were just nine balls on or outside the leg stump. The wagon wheel for the first 15 overs of the Pakistan innings is indicative: half the runs were scored in the arc between midwicket and fine leg.
India probably also missed a trick when they choose just one specialist spinner in their line-up. Harbhajan Singh conceded only 39 in his nine overs while Sachin Tendulkar and Dinesh Mongia were more economical than any of the three frontline seamers. Had India bowled second, they would have probably missed an extra spinner even more with the pitch taking prodigious turn towards the end. Arshad Khan produced some unplayable deliveries and ended with fantastic figures of 3 for 33 in his ten overs.