The crucial first 15 overs, and mysterious Misbah

The margin of the result was exactly the number of more runs India scored in the first 15 overs compared to Pakistan.

updated: March 31, 2011 12:42 IST
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Mohali: As it turned out, almost all the experts read the wicket wrong. MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar admitted as much in the post-match presentation, and from the scores it's obvious that run-making was a lot more difficult on this Mohali pitch than it was expected to be. The team composition and the early overs suggested a score of around 300 would be a par total, but later events showed it was another subcontinent track on which run-scoring against the hard new ball was much easier.

In that context, the difference between the two teams was the runs they scored in the first 15 overs, when the ball was new. Pakistan's top three played useful cameos too, but none of them exploded in the manner that Virender Sehwag had. Sehwag's 25-ball 38 allowed India to rack up 99 in the first 15 overs, compared to Pakistan's 70. The difference of 29 was exactly the margin by which Pakistan lost the match, which means in the remaining 35 overs, the two teams scored exactly the same number of runs. Of course, the approaches of the two teams at the start were obviously different since Pakistan knew the target in front of them, but Pakistan struggled as much as India did in the middle overs. What made their case worse was the fact that they got no reciprocal help from the Indian fielders, or from the dew which was expected to set in later in the evening.How the Indian and Pakistan innings shaped up

India1 to 1599 for 15218/216/0
Pakistan1 to 1570 for 15719/211/0
India16 to 40101 for 18550/68/0
Pakistan16 to 40107 for 57953/124/2
India41 to 5060 for 42921/46/0
Pakistan41 to 5054 for 43320/15/1

Misbah's mystery innings

Misbah-ul-Haq's strike rate at the end of his innings was 73.68; Tendulkar's rate for his 85 was 73.91. That, perhaps, is as good an example as any to illustrate the fact that stats without context is meaningless. Misbah's inexplicable go-slow through the first half of his innings resulted in the asking rate climbing to unmanageable proportions, and it also forced the other batsmen to take risks that might otherwise have been unnecessary. He tried to make up for it later, but apart from helping him reach a personal landmark and improving his strike-rate, his late hits counted for little.

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