A lot has been written on India's fabulous win over Australia on October 16, 2013. The underlying message in almost all of these articles has been very positive. As one columnist put it in the Daily News and Analysis, Make no mistake, Jai Ho! Pur is no flash in the pan. It is a sign of the things to come. If what happened on October 16, 2013, is a sign of things to come, then I am really worried. And so should be you, if you are an average Indian cricket fan, like I have been. I have followed the travails of the Indian cricket team, largely on television and radio, for more than 25 years now. I have spent time watching an ODI series between England and India, before my tenth standard exams, and am still paying the price for it. I have prayed to God that the other God bats well and helps India win, a countless number of times. Sachin Tendulkar's straight drive and Venkatesh Prasad's slow leg cutter are two things that I can watch over and over again. I almost jumped out of my seat in office, when Joginder Sharma dismissed Misbah-ul-Haq, and helped India win the first T20 world-cup in September 2007. Watching cricket has been a non-stop roller-coaster ride with emotions from fear to exhilaration to hope to defeat, built into it. But on October 16, 2013, I wondered whether all these years of watching cricket has really been worth the trouble? I saw more or less the entire match on mute (to be honest I just can't hear Ravi Shastri saying and that went like a tracer bullet one more time). And by the end of the match I wasn't really sure if I was watching an international cricket match or a video game, which is loaded totally in favour of the batsmen and the bowler has an insignificant role. What I saw on October 16, 2013, was very similar. The wicket was dead. It did not have anything in it either for spinners or for fast bowlers. The worst of ODI cricket, where the rules and the playing conditions are totally against the bowlers, was at work. The power of heavy bats was at display, with even mis-hits crossing the boundary line. Cricket bats have become heavier over the years. Anyone who watches slow motion replays carefully, can easily figure out that even rank mis-hits go for a six these days. Only, four players are now allowed outside the 15-yard circle at any point of time, making it even more difficult for bowlers specially spinners. Spinners rely a lot on mis-hits to take wickets. These mis-hits can be caught in and around the boundary line. But with only four fielders allowed outside circle, the chances of that happening are significantly lower. This has made it even more difficult for captains to bowl spinners in the final overs. Also, two white balls are now used in a 50-over game. This has led to a situation where reverse swing that a fast bowler can get from an old ball, has been more or less taken out of the equation. It is rare to see toe crushing yorkers these days, which the likes of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Brett Lee, had turned into an art form. This has also made it important for spinners to be able to bowl with the new ball. While it is important to adapt, it was very interesting to see the kind of turn that spinners used to get with the old ball earlier and fox the batsmen. Over the years, boundary lines in cricket stadiums have been brought in. The cricket administrators seem to like the idea of batsmen hitting more sixes. Apparently that is what the crowds want, I am told. ODI cricket was never really meant for bowlers. The basic fact that a batsman can keep batting till he gets out, whereas a bowler cannot bowl more than 10 overs in a match, proves that. Over the years, limits were also placed on the number of bouncers that a bowler could bowl in one over. Thankfully this has been corrected, and bowlers are now allowed to bowl two bouncers in an over. This has ensured that batsmen can't simply jump out of their creases after the one bouncer for the over has been bowled.
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