India and England World Cup tie – three key points

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What a match. Here are three things that struck us about it:


“People want to see boundaries” – you always hear people say that as if it’s a fact, but this match wasn’t exciting because there were 76 boundaries; it was exciting because it was a close match.

Andrew Strauss’s fours were all important, but no single one of them felt massive. Ajmal Shazad’s six did feel massive, but that wasn’t because it was a six, it was because it dramatically altered the complexion of the game in an instant. That’s what’s exciting.

Man of the match

In high-scoring matches, the man of the match is always the guy who scores most runs, but in high-scoring matches strong bowling performances are actually more significant (as indeed higher scores are more significant in low-scoring matches).

Andrew Strauss was immense, as was Sachin Tendulkar, but when 338 plays 338, Tim Bresnan’s 5-48 was positively monumental and Zaheer Khan’s powerplay spell had as much impact on the result as anything.

Importance of the result

It actually didn’t really matter which way the match went, because both teams should still feel confident of qualifying for the quarter finals. You might not think the match could have been much more exciting, but imagine if something greater had been at stake.

Finally, a word for Ravi Shastri’s inadvertently insightful piece of commentary early in England’s innings:

“India are a very strong side, but if they do have one weakness, it’s their bowling. And their fielding.”


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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    1. Out of the three main elements of the game.

      Hang on, when did we start needing to spell this stuff out?

  1. Indian players always seem to need that kick in the balls to wake up and perform better. Hopefully this was it, not a loss to South Africa much later into the world cup (which could have demoralized India).

    To be honest, angry as much as I was, I never believed India was going to lose this match. India have a good record holding their nerve while defending targets and capitalizing on the opposition’s one mistake. But they do it only in the final 10 overs or so. Of course most matches do not last that long..

    And to give some credibility to Shasthri’s comments, India’s bowling and fielding seem to correlate in performance with each other. They are like one entity, a deeply troubled conjoined twins. MY best is R. Ashwin will be making a debut in the world cup pretty soon.

  2. P.S. I have typed the above comment from a mental state that has been deprived of sleep for over 20 hours. I take no responsibility for the lack of any sensible statements, logical fallacies, or spelling errors.

  3. I think that India can bowl and field well as you saw in that final powerplay. And the reason they did it was because the game was on and everyone was on their toes. When the game is meandering India tend to lose energy in the field and with the bowling, especially if the crowd goes quiet. Partly it’s because of MS Dhoni’s defensive tactics. In ODIs he likes to play the waiting game when he’s defending big scores. He gives people easy singles, and if you’re as good as Strauss is, you’ll invariably find the boundary as well. This happened recently in a match against Sri Lanka where they nearly chased down 400. You saw what the batting powerplay did because it allowed India to bring their bowling and fielding to the fore. If Dhoni had just brought the field up in the 35-36th over, India could have easily won the game.

  4. Didn’t think the India bowling was bad for any lengthy period or spell. There were a couple of dodgy overs for them sure, but until the Great Powerplay Ballsup I thought it was an absolutely outstanding chase.

  5. Can I ask why the PowerPlay decision was a balls up (except in hindsight, of course). You had two batsmen who were well set and playing shots, and two overs that had been tight, meaning that England were just drifting away a fraction. The Powerplay brings the field in, so that shots over the top tend to reach the boundary, and the best people to play shots over the top are top order batsmen who are well set.

    Let’s assume that England had waited for three overs before taking it, and had (as they were doing at the time) scored about twelve runs from those three overs. Why would the Powerplay have gone any differently by sole virtue of it being three overs later? Assuming that it wouldn’t have, England would probably have lost.

    I haven’t explained any of that very well, but in summary, it was the powerplay that went wrong for England (because of great bowling), not the timing of the powerplay.

  6. I was referring not to the decision to take the powerplay, which was fine, but what happened once they did.

    1. I realised that while I was writing, but you can’t pass up an opportunity for a rant, even if the cause has been taken away.

  7. There was a lot of scrambled brain analysis on the box at the conclusion of the game.

    It made me feel slightly better about the frazzled state I found myself in at the end of such an amazing rollercoaster match – even the professional commentators were visibly and audibly shattered.

    The only exception to the above comment is Nick Knight, because he is permanently brain-scrambled.

    1. Did anyone else think it was utterly demented that several of the commentators (mostly Botham now that we think about it) were talking like England had won after about 38 overs?

      There was a long way to go at that point.

    2. Demented commentary from Botham is something we’ve come to expect. Not surprising we didn’t notice until now.

      (I don’t listen to the Sky comms. I just assume whatever Beefy is saying is bollocks.)

    1. Ceci, favorite picture ever. Even better than the flamingos playing connect4 (which was done on request).

  8. I have a theory that taking the Powerplay leads to a worse outcome for the batting team. It is usually taken with batsmen reasonably well set, and usually results in a loss of wickets as the players feel that they have to hit over the top. Someone clever could produce some stats to either support or refute my theory. If it is correct, then teams are better off not taking their Powerplay till the end of the innings.
    Also, just saw Brad Hodge batting in the Australian domestic One-Day final. Reminded me of Sachin. Why is he not opening or batting 3 for Australia?

    1. Bowling sides should use it against set batsmen then. No?

      You can never have too many brads.

  9. It is an interesting question, this one of the batting powerplay (I don’t mean “interesting” in the way that the rest of the world understands it, obviously). What is it for? When should it be taken? What should you do when in it?

    (Obviously I didn’t mean “one” in the way that the rest of the world understands it either.)

    The answers are:

    To give you the chance to accelerate the scoring to 8+ runs per over so as to boost an innings.

    At some point between overs 35 and 45, when two batsmen are set.

    Realise that you have 30 deliveries to score 40 or more runs, that every well hit shot OVER the inner circle will go for four, that you only need to do that ten times, and that therefore you don’t need to wallop every ball, just the ten right ones, whenever they occur, even if none of them happen in the first over or two.

    There, I think that’s dealt with.

    1. Any answer to these questions would necessarily be theoretical. But that doesn’t stop me.

      I don’t agree with “two set batsmen” theory. Jonathon Trott and Rahul Dravid might be well set, but would still be useless to get 8+ runs an over.

      The “35-40 overs” point is unnecessarily restrictive. If, for example, Pietersen or Sehwag are going great guns and are closing in on their centuries after the fifteenth over, would you let them continue or wait around for twenty more overs?

      Waiting for the good balls to hit is easier said than done. Pressure gets to everybody. Unless you are Tendulkar.

    2. Agreed. But what I was really trying to say is that teams should look at the batting powerplay as an opportunity to puch things a bit, but not as five overs in which a minimum of 60 runs must be scored. This is where they tend to go wrong. If you finish the powerplay having not lost a wicket but continued to score at the same rate as before, that’s fine.

      The problem is that because there is now a pile of fielders saving one, even maintaining a scoring rate requires some hitting over the circle. Elegant cover drives find one of the three cover fielders on the circle. Up and over is the only way, but you don’t need to do it every ball.

    3. This is more of a strategic game play than cricketers have been used to. What we are seeing is captains and batsmen who lack clarity. We talk of the batting powerplay being taken at the wrong time, what about the bowling powerplays ? Why is no one talking about them ? I would love to see a bowling captain who takes the bowling powerplay for overs 35 – 39, because he can have his best bowler bowl 7-8 overs to an attacking field, in two spells (example smith who has morkel and steyn)

    4. ” he can have his best bowler bowl 7-8 overs to an attacking field, in two spells, with a new ball”

    5. Bert: True, I guess most players do have a problem getting runs safely with fielding restrictions. It is funny that though someone like Sehwag seems to play freely, he still gets many runs by hitting the ball along the ground rather than in the air. Come to think of it, this seems to be true for most opening batters. But I guess that is mostly because they are better qualified to face the new ball than the rest.

      Pavan: I think (and I could well be wrong) that the bowling powerplay is usually more straightforward to decide than the batting one. There seem to be only two choices: immediately after the tenth over (if the batting side is sluggish) or in the middle overs, when it is generally quiet, to hasten the departure of some batsmen for cheap shots.

      Also, I guess by “new ball” you mean a “different ball” – it is still a used one, if I am right.

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