Wednesday, November 21, 2012

England earns respect.

From a bunch of jokers, England quickly earned the respect of every cricket lover. The gap between the two teams are bridging closer, rather quicker than anticipated. Of course, at this point the improved performance of the England side is dominated by the trio of Cook, Prior and Swann. But it is only a matter of time before the rest joins the party as the series progress. In other words, the series is beginning to come alive.

By no means, I’m changing my stance. I still back India to win 3 tests in this series. But to achieve that, India will have to sweat hard more than before. Again, it is not only about sweating hard, but the balance & composition of the side will play a crucial role in the amount of effort the players have to put, to win 2 more test matches.

It will not be a surprise if India retains the same winning XI for the second test. My question is, will it help or hurt?

For the first test, India played two spinners and two medium pacers. But, it was very obvious that the medium pacers did not play their roles as much as they would have liked to. Yadav and Zaheer Khan were under bowled in the first and second innings respectively. Nevertheless, on both the innings, spinners dominated the stage. Actually, the duo of Ashwin and Ojha over bowled in second innings. To put it in perspective, the circumstances were far more conducive for the spinners compared to medium pacers. If the trend is likely to continue (which it will), why don’t India play 3 spinners, instead of 2 medium pacers? The least the third spinner will reduce the work load of Ashwin & Ojha and also can create steeper challenges to English batsman in comparison to a medium pacer like Zaheer Khan.

With respect to batting, Gambir and Tendulkar appears to be the two struggling batsman in the lineup. Thankfully Sehwag escaped this list. For a while, it has been the responsibility of the other batsman to over compensate the perennial failure of this duo. Since Tendulkar is unshakable in Indian Cricket, it will be good if Gambir is replaced only to reduce the burden of the remaining batsman. Mind you, some time ago, youngsters were considered inadequate replacements to fill the big shoes of Dravid, Laxman or even Harbhajan Singh. Given an opportunity, all Pujara, Kohli and Ashwin proved that they are more than adequate. So drafting another youngster like Rahane for Gambir will not be such a poor gamble. Even if Rahane fails, he would have surely out done Gambir’s performance.

Cricketing Excellence
It was heartening to see Pujara coming up with a double ton in as early as 6th Test Match of his career. That shows volumes of his talent, temperament and potential. Interestingly the innings of Pujara was equally matched by Cook from the opposition. Cook only played 3 scoring shots - the Cut, the Drive and the Sweep (of course an occasional pull too) and defended the remaining balls handsomely. He kept his cricket as simple as possible to pile up a mammoth 176. The rest of the English batsman doesn’t have to go too far to learn to play in subcontinent.

Dhoni asked for favorable tracks that turn from Day 1. Not sure if his voice will be heard, neither mine!!!

Steve Waugh blamed Dhoni for asking favorable tracks. He also mentioned that he never asked for any particular wicket in his entire captaincy tenure. By the way, it would not matter to any captain on what wicket they play, especially if they have a side like Steve Waugh’s.

England must be feeling inside that they have done necessary damage to shake the confidence of the Indian camp despite losing the first test. The performance of some of the players (in combination with surface) should result in few heads rolling. It is very evident that Patel is not in any league to be a test spinner (the least today). The trio of Anderson, Bresnan and Broad are luxury in subcontinent conditions. Since Finn is declared unfit, Bresnan and Anderson could still retain their places. Again there is a possibility that one of them could lose their spot to Panesar ahead of Patel too.

Will India field this XI?
Rahane, Sehwag, Pujara, Kohli, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Ashwin, Ojha, Yadav.
Oh yeah, definitely in my blog.

Verdict: Series comes alive.

Cricket Lover

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