Tuesday, 31 July, 2007

Trent Bridge, We Love You

"What a lovely day, It's a lovely blue sunshine here today."

Henry Blofeld, in his trademark plummy voice, was referring to the Lords cricket ground when he spoke these words. But day four at Nottingham was equally glorious, with clear, 'forget me not' blue skies. And as the sun shone over Trent Bridge, it was Indian bowlers who added sparkle to what can be described as one of the best days for Indian cricket.

But why single out only the fourth day? The whole of second test has been like a fairy tale for the Indian team. If Rahul Dravid was asked to script his own version of a dream overseas win, I am certain, he could not have written any better - win the toss, skittle out the opposition for less than 200, take an almost 300 runs lead, and finish it off in style with a resounding 7 wicket win, as if it were a well oiled machine at work.

Of course, a well-oiled machine, is more often than not, a misnomer when one uses it in the same breath as Indian cricket team. Most of India's recent away wins have been a result of a standout performance from couple of players at the most. With due apologies to Ajit Agarkar and L Balaji, India's test wins at Adelaide and Rawalpindi conjure up the image of Rahul Dravid's epic double tons. The 'Sultan of Multan' - Sehwag springs to mind when one talks of India's first test win on Pakistan soil. And India's first ever win at Sabina Park owes much to Dravid's technical brilliance in scoring two half centuries (the only two scored in that match) on a crumbling pitch.

Some victories, though, are more satisfying than others. Trent Bridge is one such win. It is also different, in that, the whole team contributed - something akin to the one at Jo'burg, few months ago.

Zaheer Khan, in all probability, will get the man of the match award - he richly deserves it too - but if ever there was a case for breaking traditions and giving 'Men of the Match' award, this was it.

If bowlers sent the team's stock soaring high, on Friday - when the benchmark indices around the world came crashing down - it was the batsmen who fended off the 'Bears' over next two days and ensured their effort did not go waste. The platform firmly in place, it was only a matter of 'When' not 'How', Zaheer Khan and co capped it with yet another display of superb swing bowling. For a change, almost every player came to the party.

There remain some loose ends and few lacunae, though. But this is not the time to delve on it.

For the moment, let us savor this magnificent - also one of India's very best - test win.

Take a bow, TEAM INDIA.


Homer said...

One victory does not a summer make.. There is a Test series to be won followed by the ODI series.

We got ahead of ourselves in South Africa and paid the price.

It is time for us, players and fans alike, to expect more from this team.

Nothing short of a 2-0 Test series and a 7-0 blanking of the Poms in the ODIs will do.

Carpe Diem.

Soulberry said...

As we were discussing earlier elsewhere and here, India has, of late, acquired a habit of taking an early lead only to surrender it soon after.

It is a treand we have seen over the past 3-4 years. We also discussed possible reasons, one of which might be that the surprise element of an ever changing bowling attack wanes, along with the gradual decline of Kumble/Harbhajan.

This is a great win for the reasons you point out. A team effort first, a bowling effort next, and a determined batting effort among all that.

More importantly, it came from a nadir.

The past year or two are no secret, specifically the past six months. This win is another peg on the way up from there.

Which among them all is India's best win? I was caught between Adelaide and Pindi. Indian bowlers (medium pacers) are traditionally, the kind who can perform a notch higher in England far easily than elsewhere. It is the batsmen who tend to falter there.

With Pakistan and Australia, there are additional pressures - Australia are never a weak team, then the immense pressure created on a visiting team is something to contend with besides the ability of the home team. Any win in Australia must rate highly, even if it isn't resulting in a series victory. Adelaide was first blood...a rare achievement for India in a series.

Pakistan presents heightened pressures for an Indian team which I can only conjecture about. It doesn't matter how strong or weak the home team is at that particular period of time - the atmosphere creates champions out of the most anonymous of talents.

The Pindi test becomes important to me for all the above reasons, and it was a win in a series-decider. And it came with India having just gone on the backfoot the previous test. I thought that needed plenty of character, even if some may say that the Pakistani selection then cannot compare with the Australian one at Adelaide.

In an Indo-Pak encounter, that too in Pakistan, every Pakistani player immediately transforms to be ten times better than any Australian who has ever played the game. After a victory in the previous test, that only gets multiplied with further positive integers of collective psychological gaming. Therefore, for me, Rawalpindi emerges the best out of them all.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

after savouring the victory, how about a little 'khatta'? here it is... The secret man of the match

Samir Chopra said...

Yup, nothing less than 2-0 in the tests will do. The ODIs don't bother me so much but a good, solid win will at least provide plenty of entertaintment via the teeth-gnashing the English press will engage in.

Soulberry said...

A 2-0 is necessary for I want to see how the English expand on how a single ball turned the series away from them.

And that ball is...you guessed it...Sreesanth beaming widely at Kevin Pietersen.

They really haven't liked the grin that ball described in its course.

Soulberry said...

Where are you CG? Hopefully, you are carrying a laptop on your trip!

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