Thursday, December 03, 2009

Word play

Descriptive without being adulatory, statistically-minded without giving you the generic stuff, and analytical without being preachy, Prem Panicker has a way of taking a day's play and making you relive the moments with clarity and fond remembrance. Here's his description of the second day's play of the ongoing India-Sri lanka Test match. It is for articles like this one that I rate Prem Panicker among the best cricket writers in the world.

Some samples to whet your appetite:
(...) what impressed about Vijay was the quality of shot selection and execution. Vijay’s driving through covers is classical [there was one bended knee effort of Welegedara that made you forget you were supposed to be working, and stand to applaud]; he plays with felicity off his pads; and he is clearly aware of the importance of singles as a weapon of attack [between them, the two openers had 59 singles (Vijay 27) in course of the 221 run opening partnership, that also had 26 fours and six sixes.]


The problem with appraising Viru in terms of stats is that the stats are so startling you begin hunting for the very adjectives you ran out of in the first place. Consider this: the man has six double hundreds, more than any other Indian batsman ever. And of those six, five are in the list of the fastest doubles of all time; in fact, he owns three of the top four slots, and is the only batsman to have more than one entry in that list.

Here’s why: his progression from the 180s to the double ton, in the 57th over of the innings bowled by Nuwan Kulasekhara, was dot, 4, 4, 4, 2, 4. With every other batsman currently active, you talk of the nervous nineties – with Viru, as someone pointed out to me on Twitter, it is the hapless bowlers who get nervous when the man approaches some landmark. With every other batsman -- including the great Sachin -- the rival captain brings the field in to add pressure; with Viru, they send the fielders out on the fence and he pierces or clears them anyway.

The point though is not so much his propensity to score big; the real key to Sehwag is that he scores those big runs at a pace that sets it up for his team, even as he creates a slipstream for his colleagues to coast along in
Now, go and read the rest. Here's the link again, just in case.

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