Monday, February 25, 2013

Dhoni Sizzles, Aussie Fizzles.

Oh My God!!! That was magical from Dhoni. Simply stupendous. Actually it is difficult to put in words to praise the innings. Crux of the runs was piled after the regular batsman Virat Kohli quit the scene.  As many as 222 runs (to be precise) is what Dhoni added to India’s total in the company of Jadeja, Ashwin and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar with 16, 3, 21, plus extras to account for the sources contribution to the partnership. It is heartening to see Dhoni making statement with the bat in Test Cricket with each growing day. He already has the adoration next to Tendulkar. Now he is also taking up the onus of scoring serious runs like the Maestro. So when Tendulkar eventually exits, the Indian public would still have somebody worthy to transfer the patronage. Guess I’m not bullish here.

For now, Dhoni’s 224 will stand tall in the memory of cricket lovers for a very long time.

There were criticisms after Day 2’s play when Patterson bowled only 6 overs with 2 short spell of 3 overs each in which he grabbed (3) all Indian wickets. I too had similar opinion. Mind you, he bowled all 36 balls at a very good pace mostly threading in the range of 145- 150 kmph. May be the criticism had merit, Clarke operated Pattinson more on Day 3 with each spell mostly ranging 4 overs. The day he bowled more overs with bigger spells, it was also the day he could not sustain to the pace as Day 2. The frequencies of clocking 145+ Kmph became rarity. Thus his bowling on Day 3 was not as effective as Day 2. Of course, Dhoni batting on a different league made matter worse for Pattinson and Australia. As an observer, if I sit back and review it all, I now agree that Clarke was correct in bowling Pattison sparingly and effectively on Day 2. May be that is the way he should be operated, going forward.

At the same time, bowling at 130+ (Starc, Siddle, Henriques) appeared pedestrian on that surface. And, Indians never allowed Lyon to settle at all. I thought Australia learnt beforehand from England when Barmy Army dropped Panesar for the first Test only to realize it was a grave mistake. I guess Xoherty will walk in to the side automatically for the second Test at the cost of Starc or Siddle. By no means, I rate Xoherty in par with Panesar. The idea is, he could be effective than the medium fast bowling of Starc, Siddle or Heniques. The least it will be relatively easy to handle the work load. If I were Clarke, I will have no hesitation to play Xoherty for Siddle and Johson for Starc in the second Test. Considering the vulnerability of the Australian batting line up against slow bowling, Johnson could be a handy option for his little known ability with the bat added to his left arm pace bowling variety. By all means, Henriques with the bat was the surprise package of this Test Match.

Back to India, “there is no reason to change the winning team” will be the popular thought. I also expect the team management to retain the same XI for the second Test. However, common sense says, Ojha is a better choice than Jadeja for the role of left arm spinner. After all, Australian batting is likely to get better with each Test Match innings and it is important to deal bigger spades when the challenges rise. Also with B Kumar showing how tight he can bat, he is more than adequate to compensate Jadeja’s offerings with the bat. If Vijay fails again in this paltry run chase, it would not be a bad idea to consider Rahane for the opening role. Again, I know that is unlikely to happen.

As predicted, India started 1-0 up. How will India progress from here is the key. I guess India will not lose the steam immediately like against England. Thanks again to “The Dhoni Innings” that should do world of good for India to carry the momentum or in other words induce some spirit in the batting camp.

My line up for second Test:
Rahane, Sehwag, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Dhoni, Ashwin, B Kumar, Harbhajan, Ojha, I Sharma (By the way, I’ve not changed the line up, I proposed for the first Test)

Warner, Cowan, Hughes/Khawaja, Clarke, Watson, Henriques, Wade, Johnson, Lyon, Xoherty, Pattision.

Bottom line: India Win or an Aussie draw is the prospect at Hyderabad. What I mean by the statement is - First Test performance is far from satisfactory to believe Australia can win the next Test.

Cricket Lover

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