Karachi:About a decade back 300 was considered to be a mammoth target in a One-day match. Today, it's just barely competitive. The ongoing Asia Cup matches have seen teams chase down 300 plus totals with ease. On Thursday, the Indian batting order had no problem in chasing down Sri Lanka's 308. So, the mystery to crack in Karachi is just how much is enough?
The Indian middle order might have earned the men in blue a spot in the final of the Asia Cup with a comprehensive victory over the Lankans on Thursday, but the real work was done by India's seamers who restricted Sri Lanka to 308 on a wicket where 300 is only but a fighting total.
India coasted to a 6-wicket win scoring the highest total batting second in the Asia Cup. With contributions all around, India seemed in total control as they posted the 10th 300 plus score of the tournament this year.
But perhaps the biggest role in India's win came from the quicks, especially RP Singh. With the exception of Irfan Pathan, the medium pacers restricted Sri Lanka early on and then took wickets at crucial stages. And that allowed the Lankans just 74 runs in the last 10 overs.
"I think Ishant, RP and Pragyan bowled really well. Doesn't mean the others didn't. They had the opportunity to bowl with the new ball. But it was the wickets taken by the seamers because of which Pragyan also bowled well," Indian skipper Dhoni said.
In spite of India's bowling performance, Sri Lanka would have fancied themselves to give India a tough fight after they strung together a couple of good partnerships to get to 308. But India getting home with 19 balls to spare, would have given the Lankan think-tank a lot of food for thought.
"I mean if we can get four hundred, it'll be great. What we go by, is the start we get and the conditions," Dhoni's Sri Lankan counterpart, Mahela Jayawardene said.
And that's precisely what will give India confidence. In seven innings, the firm of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag have recorded two 100 run stands and three eighty plus partnerships. It explains why Dhoni prefers to chase down scores. But what about when his team has to defend a score on these flat Karachi wickets?
"400 seems a safe score. What you're saying is true. It all depends on the start. And if you can keep getting wickets in the middle over, you can make about 310 or 320. At one stage you have to decide, if you want to go for 350 or if you want to post 310 and then try and bowl the opposition out," Dhoni added.
The Indians might have finished the second leg of a double header on a high, but there's no denying they'll need some well grounded strategy to lift the Asia Cup.
It might strike as curious to some that the two teams in the finals are the very teams that have had back-to-back matches. But the fact will not be lost on both of them, that teams have been chasing down 300-plus scores. So, the big question that they will be asking themselves is just how much will be enough on this placid Karachi wicket.