Tuesday, December 4, 2012


So much happened in the past few days, the Test has already drawn all eyes before the start. Also thanks to the conclusion of Australia - South Africa series. The viewers are now hardly left with any choice but to follow India – England battle.

When I said so much, I meant the controversies surrounding the pitch preparation. Too much is being talked about this subject from all corners. I don’t want to bug you all anymore on this issue. Still wish to add my 2 cents. By the way, you already know how big my 2 cents are.

Let us wind a bit, to the point when India completed the formalities in the first test at Ahmedabad.

To me, Dhoni was right in asking for a turning wicket (like the one in Mumbai that turned from day 1) when India stepped into Mumbai for second test. From Dhoni’s perspective, India as a country was not willing to settle anything less than 4-0. Having witnessed what happened at Ahmedabad (where English batsman played unlike English batsman in the second innings) playing in a traditional subcontinent surface at Mumbai may not produce the result in India’s favor, especially if England batted first. The odds were good that the English batsman could carry the momentum from Ahmedabad (and it happened too), especially when conditions are conducive for batting at Mumbai. This would potentially result in a draw and deprive India a much needed win and the authority on the series.

So, Dhoni in the crucifixion mode asked for a turning surface from Day 1 at Mumbai. It was his assumption/gamble that England would fall out cheaply. And then going into the third test match 2-0 up, the surface would not matter much as spin demons would take care of dreading English batsmen minds. From this stage, conquering the remaining tests (or even one) would be a relatively easier assignment. It would be very similar to the way India lost in England and Australia where the side’s performance deteriorated test after test rather improvement.

But, what happened at Mumbai surprised everyone. Let’s not dig into this issue as we sufficiently analyzed this topic.

At this stage, Dhoni’s request for turner from Day 1 at Kolkata a good gamble?
Not sure if it’s a good gamble or not, but surely Dhoni must have seen a bigger picture. Clearly, it is not a situation like the one in West Indies (2011) were India was leading (1-0) and did not want to jeopardize it.

This day everything is different. If India misses the opportunity at Kolkata due to traditional surface, the third test could potentially end in a draw. After all, England now has the momentum of two test performances behind them to manage a draw. And then India will be in ultimate pressure to win the final test at Nagpur. Again if things don’t go according to plan at Nagpur, India would be in soup for losing it 1-1 or 1-2. Also, there is every possibility of English batsman to prosper in Nagpur as they would have gained sufficient experience by virtue of playing three tests already. So, it is not a poor gamble by Dhoni after all. Not, when his fate is in line.

Of course every coin has two sides. A turning surface at Kolkata can backfire and bring curtains to his regime immediately. But, what are the odds? For England, Compton, Trott, Bell and Bairstow are the weak links with the bat. Out of which Bell did not play 2nd test, Bairstow is short of experience, Trott has his own problems and not much is known about Compton. For India, the odds are good that Kohli should strike form, Gambir his, while Tendulkar eventually his and Yuvraj manages his survival. Since the quartet of Kohli, Gambir, Yuvraj and Tendulkar featured both tests, Dhoni would any day back his mates to fire over the English counterparts. By all means, even if it backfires at Kolkata, Dhoni is not going down alone. Not, when his fate is in line.
What is my take?
After all the hoopla between Curator and Captain, it appears the world will witness a wicket that is in between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Which means the result is most likely and the result will come anywhere around 5th day.

England is likely to field the following XI
Compton, Cook, Trott, Pieterson, Bell, Bairstow, Prior, Swann, Finn, Anderson, Panesar

While India this
Gambir, Sehwag, Pujara,Tendulkar, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Ashwin, Zaheer, Ishanth, Ojha

On paper, England appears a strong bowling unit. Every one of Swann, Panesar, Finn and Anderson outmatch the quadrant of Ashwin, Ojha, Ishanth and Zaheer. The spin duo of Swann and Panesar have out-wicketed the pair Ashwin and Ojha so far. Both Finn and Ishanth are new entrants to the series. Also Anderson appears to be in better wicket taking form over Zaheer. So, the weakness of bowling unit has to be over powered by the success of batting department.

Bottom line: It’s difficult to make any predictions. I’m curious as much as you to witness, how this test unfolds. My hunch says Dhoni will prevail. My heart wishes England to succeed for a wholesale change in Indian Cricket.

Cricket Lover

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