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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why did India lose against NewZealand?

The above match is a classic case of how diagnosis should not be done. In a system, cause and effect are intermingled, and it requires a non-linear thinker to seperate the elements and come to a conclusion.

For instance, one of the newspaper column said that the 'fault was in giving too many runs at the end'. If you have observed other matches, you will always find that many runs are scored in the last few overs. For instance, South Africa scored some 40 odd runs in last two overs. It is the interplay of different different factors in 20-20 game that causes this. If an experienced team like England has not learnt this trick, can we expect Indians to do so?

Another diagnosis was Yuvraj Singh should not have been bowled in the 16th over. One newspaper column also wrote that 'India did not seem to have learnt anything from the past. Yuvraj was hit for five sixes in a over'. This newspaper column does not know that being hit in the last overs depends on how bowler 'readjusts' with the batsman. For instance, England bowler Schofield gave 14 runs in 3 overs, but gave away 3 sixes in the last over, because he could not readjust with the Morkel's hitting zone. So why was Yuvraj given the 16th over? One can surmise that Dhoni must have thought that ' Having seen how he was hit by Mascerhans ( of England), Yuvraj must have learnt this readjustment'.

Another wrong element in the diagnosis is our intrinsic bias. Because Robin Uthappa played well in the match before that, the commentators do not want to blame him. But one can argue that it was precisely the 'mental unpreparedness' of Uthappa that swung the match. Contrast this with SriLanka chasing Newzealand. After a initial flourish, their next batsman took their time to settle before they went for the kill. The failure of Uthappa to adjust and settle probably lost the game, one can argue. But no commentator even mentions it because bias of 'past' performance clouds the 'present'. If one is diagnosing what went wrong in the current game, why should one get biased with the past?

A match between two players is a system. In a system, everything is an interplay. Cause and effects cannot be delineated easily. A smaller match between a batsman and bowler is also a system. One who does the 'readjustment' faster wins. Because everything is over if you do not readjust in time, the 'time to swap back to normal' matters a lot in a game. Schoefield readjusted beautifully with other batsman in the first three overs, and lost the battle with Morkel in the last over. In the larger scheme of things, that mattered to England a lot. So the diagnosis should be to to 'enable Schoefield to understand what could he have done differently'. And in the India match, it could be to 'help Uthappa to settle before he plays his natural game'. Of course, there are many such elements in a matter that matter in a match. For the sake of simplicity, we are just picking one example.

In a game, the mental traits of being in present, of not getting overwhelmed by the target, of not going too far ahead of the game, of playing the game within one's zone are the qualities that matter, because time is dominant factor. Like the famous football Italian coach Valleri said " I never lost a match. I was always short of time".

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