While Kohli stamped his mark yet again as the Sebastian Vettel of ODI cricket, not too far away in the middle east at the Mecca of subcontinent cricket, two unpredictable teams were scripting a slow burner of their own.
Cricket fans on Wednesday were treated to two opposite spectrums of the game. Nagpur and yet another 350+ chase turned out to be the big budget massy entertainer- a Diwali bonanza starring the Indian batsmen- the kind of fare that Indian spectators swear by. Bowlers on both sides wished they were never born, and batsmen peppered the stands with cherries. Records were broken again, only a week after the freak Jaipur chase, though this was a bit more believable with a final over victory. It did get close, but a victory margin of 6 wickets on the fastest outfield in the world- was this really becoming too common to savour?Captain Dhoni mentioned that he was worried about the future of ODI cricket- either floored by the brilliance of his own batting lineup or disgruntled by the pedestrian bowling all series. The combination, of course, keeps fans in high spirits despite their bowlers getting butchered, despite being faced with 350+ totals every other game now. Nothing is impossible in India anymore. The t20ization of ODI cricket seems to have given Indian fans the cricket version of Salman Khan flicks- outrageous and entertaining, but not for the purists. This could be worrying in the long run- because these are supposed to be the no. 1 and no. 2 ODI teams in the world. The 2-2 scoreline may show that not much lies between them, but tell that to their bowlers. The new ball and field rules have contributed a bit to this explosion, but we’re overlooking the role of Indian pitches and outfields. Try scoring 350 in England or West Indies right now- imagine the fans being upbeat after Australia slammed 359 in the 2003 World Cup Final? No, the game was already lost. That is how it should be, too, unless a miraculous game decides to take place- the 434 ODI being a prime example in an IPL-less world.
But, as if on cue, Pakistan decided to give Dhoni some hope. At their favorite hunting ground Sharjah, they conspired to give ODIs a breath of fresh air by engineering one of the most unbelievable collapses while chasing in years. With 19 required of 10 overs and 6 wickets in hand, Pakistan somehow managed to lose- to South Africa out of all teams- by a solitary run. It was not as if Steyn or Amla were around, lesser bowlers like Tahir announced their comeback to the world. 181 could not be chased down, in stark comparison to scenes at Nagpur. How the likes of Johnson, Watson, Jadeja, Ashwin must have wished they were in Sharjah for a few days. Ishant must already be contemplating how to practice in the nets somewhere in the Middle East, if only to restore some confidence back. Whatever the issue, Wednesday provided both the best and worst of ODI cricket in 7 hours. What was better though, Kohli’s 11th successful ODI ton in chases or Pakistan’s 17697938th batting collapse? The jury is out on that, but till then, enjoy both the worlds. After all, lately, there seems to be place for films like The Lunchbox and Ship Of Theseus to co-exist with the Dabbangs, Chennai Expresses and Bosses of 2013.