“Sokal chhota theke boshe achi, kono ticket sale hoyni.” It’s difficult to capture the ‘nuances’ of Bengali in English, but here’s an attempt.
“I’m sitting at the counter from six o’clock in the morning; no club representative has turned up to collect the tickets.” It was well past 4 pm when the ticket counter man let out his frustration.
Eden had been under wraps since morning on Tuesday because of rain spells, and the weather forecast for the next two days is not the best. So there are storm clouds over the second ODI between India and Australia on Thursday.
This is also the period when Kolkata gears up for its biggest festival, Durga Puja, which starts in six days. Little wonder then that locals are seemingly not very interested in a 50-over-a-side contest that offers little context apart from showcasing the rivalry between cricket’s two super elites.
Thanks to the inclement weather, the Indian team didn’t even bother to drop in at Eden. The Aussies came and had a session at the CAB indoors. But the tourists would have loved to have proper nets at the centre square, especially Adam Zampa.
Wrist spin suddenly appears to have acquired an exalted status in limited-overs cricket, and in the battle of wrist spinners at Chepauk, the Indian duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal completely outshone Zampa. In just one over, Hardik Pandya ruined the analysis of the young Australian leggie.
Not that Zampa had started badly in Chennai. His first seven overs had accounted for only 28 runs as India were rebuilding after an early collapse. Fast bowlers were getting extra bounce and Pandya expectedly targeted
Zampa to up the ante. A four and three sixes – all of them hit to the straightish boundaries – in the leggie’s eighth over proved to be the turning point of the match.
Now, compare this with a 22-run over – one four and three sixes on the spin – that Yadav had conceded against Glenn Maxwell during Australia’s run chase. But the chinaman bowler had the psychological wherewithal to bounce back from the onslaught, take another wicket and return with figures of 2/33 from four overs. Zampa eventually dismissed Pandya alright, but never looked the same bowler after being decimated by the Indian all-rounder.
The 25-year-old was candid enough to reveal the uncertainty factor for an Australian leggie on Indian grounds. It concerns relatively smaller fields and little margin for error for wrist spinners, length-wise. Bigger Australian outfields offer some extra leeway.
“Length here is very important, with the size of the ground. In Australia, you can mess up your length a little bit and you will probably get away with it purely because of the size. Here the length is very important. I pride myself on bowling well under pressure but the other day I didn’t execute it too well,” Zampa said.
He reflected on the horror over. “I didn’t execute how I would have liked to in the over against Hardik. It would have been important to get him off strike and put it down to poor execution from me. Probably, I bowled three balls too full. As soon as you miss against a player like Hardik, it’s going to go the distance. Hardik is a very good player.”
The Chepauk scorecard showed Zampa bowled 26 dot balls in his 10 overs, and conceded three fours and four sixes. Chahal, on the other hand, bowled 16 dot balls in his five overs; giving away just one four and two sixes. Yadav, too, had conceded only one four in his four overs, although Maxwell took three sixes off him. He bowled 12 dot balls. The Indian spin doctors displayed better control, putting more pressure on the opposition batsmen in the process.
At a promotional event in Kolkata on Tuesday, former Australia captain Michael Clarke stressed on control vis-à-vis a wrist spinner’s success. He singled out Yadav for special praise. “He (Yadav) is an attacking bowler.
His control as a wrist spinner from the back of his hand is amazing and it is his strength. He has got all the skills, spins (it) both ways, bowls long spells. He did well in the Test series (as well),” Clarke said.
For an Australian leggie who played his U-19 cricket at the SCG and then enjoyed the advantage of having very long straight boundaries at the Adelaide Oval while plying his trade for South Australia and Adelaide Strikers, ground size might always be at the back of Zampa’s mind.
As for control, MS Dhoni didn’t seem to have much confidence in the Aussie, when he captained Rising Pune Supergiants in IPL 2016.
Zampa played only five matches for his IPL franchise last year, although he finished with a very creditable economy rate of 6.76 and bagged a six-for.
This year also, he played only six games for Pune despite the fact that Steve Smith replaced Dhoni as skipper. Imran Tahir, a late entrant to the fold, had been preferred over Zampa.
The Eden Gardens outfield, however, has an approximate radius of 75 yards, which might work to Zampa’s advantage. But for him, it would be more about regaining confidence. “It is tough sometimes; bowling a bad ball can sometimes be. The best thing is to take a deep breath and get the player off strike or get him out,” Zampa said.