Tuesday, October 10, 2017

India vs Australia 1st T20I: A farce in Ranchi

Yet another batting collapse in Ranchi meant India were firmly in control against Australia when the rain started pouring in. Complete lack of application against spin by Australian batsmen meant a relatively decent start (49 for 1 in 6 overs) had been wasted yet again. In fact, the effort could be perfectly summed up by the Glen Maxwell dismissal. Yuzvendra Chahal too seemed amused and embarrassed. It was as if he was expecting the Big Show to do something as reckless and when proved right, all he could do was offer a wry smile.
Maxwell, time and again, has done the same. He has failed to put a price on his wicket and given it away just when things seemed to settle down for Australia. And post Maxwell’s wicket, there was no stopping the in-form Indians. While India were in control at midway stage, what happened thereafter was farcical. The cut-off for a 5-over match to start, for some strange reason, was kept at 10.18pm. It meant that the match would surely get over by 10.45pm at the latest.
If the idea is to give the crowd their money’s worth by playing a 5-over game at least, then why not push the deadline by another 45 minutes and play a 15-over game instead? And why should the ICC allow international cricket to be reduced to a farce by permitting a 5-over game? It should either be 10 overs or nothing at the very least. Even if Australia had scored 160, all that India would have chased in 6 overs would be 55 or so. And, it can be surmised, India would surely have romped home in the allotted six overs. As an Australian player said on conditions of anonymity, “It is like asking us to step into the boxing ring but being told that all we can do is the duck punches.
We aren’t allowed to throw any at the opposition.” While very few can still understand the intricacies of the Duckworth Lewis method, what is easily understandable is what is good for the game. And a 5-over contest isn’t. It does little to placate the crowd and hardly helps the game in the long run. It’s not to say that Australia could’ve done better had it been a 12-over contest. A pathetic batting display meant they were never in the game. But it would’ve made the match a contest.
In a 6-over game, 99 times out of 100, the batting side would win. They have 10 wickets to play with and that is foolish. How could a side be allowed its full 10 wickets when the match has been reduced to five or six overs? Virat, in the post-match presentation, said chasing 48 could be tricky. Clearly he was being modest. There was always going to be one winner and that was India. The ICC has recently instituted a number of rule changes. One of them suggests a penalty for the fielding team for trying to trick the batsman. A 6-over contest, put bluntly, is cheating the spectators and the game itself. It isn’t a level playing field with the game reduced to 36 balls and the bowling side forced to bowl all its five bowlers for an over each.
Even i f Australia had Wasim Akram, Allan Donald, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne at their peak, India would have fancied their chances of winning the contest. For the sake of the game, a rule change should be considered with urgency. It should either be that a minimum of 10 overs each side makes for a contest or if the existing rule is persisted with the batting side should be allowed half their batting strength. Also, the match-ending deadline should be around 11.30pm and not earlier. As cricket fans we don’t want to watch a farce unfold for in such a situation it’s near impossible to celebrate the win.

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