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Martin Crowe - Pitch for bare truth

Dhoni made a statement by saying that he wants to bat at No 3 and then bat right through, writes ...

Wednesday, March 04, 2022

Batsmen did the trick for India

Firstly I wanted to dwell on the events in Pakistan. It hasn't shocked me. These terrorist attacks have been getting closer and closer to sporting events. They were close to us as the New Zealand in 1987 and 1992 in Sri Lanka. Then again in 2002 my brother (Jeff) took the New Zealand team to Karachi and one or two players' hotel rooms windows were smashed.

Now there are injuries, but thankfully no one has been killed. It is just a number's game. I have stated publicly that I am not going back to the subcontinent because of the risk factor. That's a personal decision I have taken. Its an awful thing.

The 2011 World Cup is certainly very much in doubt as far as subcontinent hosting it is concerned.

So who should host it instead? Australia definitely and hopefully New Zealand. We are not geared up here especially with regards to the stadiums, but who knows.

It's not worth it. As far as I am concerned, it's a sad day.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot © AFP
Coming back to today’s action, I think India were focused and motivated. They were obviously stung by the result in the T20s. They are still obviously settling into the New Zealand conditions.

They are experienced and that was always going to kick in sometime.

Today they were really on song from the outset.

It showed in the way Dhoni wanted to bat first. I wasn’t surprised by Dhoni’s decision to bat first. He was keen to make first use of the pitch and post an imposing total on the board. Dhoni was backing players and giving them a boost despite the fact that rains were going to stop play. The batting really gave them that boost.

Virender Sehwag set the scene and Sachin Tendukar provided a nice supporting role. Dhoni made a statement by saying that he wants to bat at No 3 and then bat right through.

There was always a case for someone to provide the fireworks be it Yuvraj, Suresh Raina or Yusuf Pathan. As it happened only Yuvraj missed out.

It was a complete performance even when you consider the stoppage time.

India bowled amazing well. Full credit to Praveen Kumar who hasn’t bowled for a bit. He had the line and length going as also his pace. Then there was Zaheer of course. You just felt that the Indians had thought long and hard about getting back on track. India look hard to beat and exposed a lot of our weaknesses.

We are an honest team with the ball, but we do not always look to take wickets regularly enough. And in the batting we just haven’t got the experience to get big scores and big hundreds which India has.

This game gives a different light on things and it is not going to be as close a series as I thought earlier.

If they are as focused and motivated as they were today India could well have a clean sweep.

Having said that I was disappointed the way Brendon McCullum batted. He showed the responsibility in the last few weeks, but today he just straight away started walking down the wicket to upset the line and length.

The strike power of Virender Sehwag led India to a 53-run win © AFP
For a year now the Indian bowlers or most around the world would have thought, practised for him. The Indian bowlers responded well as McCullum got out pulling the ball. He was in no position to play. He is really the key man because he opens the batting and has to play a lot better than that.

With the bowling it seems Jacob Oram doesn’t want to bowl. That’s fine, but the team needs another specialist bowler in the side. They have got rid of Jeetan Patel, there was no Tim Southee either.

They need to rethink their bowling line-up a little bit. But this was really a good wicket and Sehwag was always likely to get India up up and away. And he just did that.