For me the best part of Holi is not the colours, but hitting my ‘targets’ with those water balloons. It is so much fun although I exercise caution not to hit anyone driving, or kids. So my usual soft targets are my neighbours, neighbourhood friends and acquaintances, my cousins and even my father’s office staff. Here my hit percentage is quite high. And when I am feeling like a gallant warrior, I even target my wife and in-laws. Well, here my hit percentage is quite low. Could it be pressure? Is it nervousness? Maybe both.
Cricketers may present a titanium exterior and play brilliant and memorable innings in the finals of tournaments like the World Cup, but sometimes the pressure to hit the bull’s eye can be enormous. And I can feel what my former team-mates would be thinking as they go into today’s game against Australia, which is lot more challenging than targeting your in-laws with water balloons! A slip here would mean the end of the tournament for us. Being a land that gave the world the Indian Premier League, it will be disheartening to justify why our last World T20 title win dates back to 2007.
I think both India and Australia haven’t presented their top game in the tournament so far. There have been sporadic, individual shows from both sides and not any muscular, professional all-round performance to announce their presence in the tournament and warm the hearts of their followers. This is where India should feel confident going into this game. If ever there is a time to grab the Aussies in a marquee tournament, it is now.
While Usman Khwaja is batting like a dream, Australia’s idea of pushing David Warner in the middle-order advertises lack of sound thinking. I mean, why will you keep one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket from using the field restrictions. Bowling wise, they are decent but not threatening.
Going by what I saw in Nagpur and Kolkata, I think we could be in for another spin track. Therefore, R. Ashwin and his fellow spinners become crucial for India. So somewhere there is a micro-battle brewing between the Indian spinners and the Aussie batsmen.
I am not a great believer in statistics, as they never truly reflect one’s talent. But this one has got me thinking. In the league games so far, Asian spinners have averaged nearly 29 runs per wicket when compared to 10.48 by non-Asians. Even the economy rate conceded by the ‘home-grown’ is more at 7.43 compared to 5.57 by non-Asians. One part of me says that maybe the likes of New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner or Aussie Adam Zampa are a mystery to the world when compared to the Jadejas and the Afridis. Further bad news is Asian seamers are averaging 41.58 to non-Asians’ 25.92.
With West Indies and New Zealand already in the semis and England finally waking up to the life beyond Test cricket, are we looking at an all non-Asian line-up? If this happens it will be a bit like Mr. Bachchan’s epic Holi song from the movie ‘Silsila’, “Bela chameli ka saej sajaya....sovey gori ka yaar.....balam tarsey.....rang barse”. The context being India’s premature exit from the tournament will be a bit like a party sans the hosts. By the way, “Rang Barse” is by far my favourite Holi Song and “Balam Pichkaari” from ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’ a distant second.
Happy, though belated, Holi to all of you.
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