Thursday, 17 January, 2008

Perth swinging India's way

To appreciate RP Singh’s efforts on a seam friendly Perth wicket, one needs to look back at his debut in Faisalabad, couple of years ago. That test was played on the back of one of the dullest games in recent times, where only 8 wickets fell against over 1100 runs scored, over 5 days. In keeping with the legacy of most Indo-Pak encounters, the Faisalabad test too ended in a dreary draw, but what stood in a contest that saw six hundreds being scored on either side, was the Man of the Match awarded to RP Singh for his 4/89! If it was a damning indictment of the docile Faisalabad pitch, it was also a tribute to the effort that the debutante put in. His comeback effort today, against a rampaging Adam Gilchrist, was never a surprise, although to the Aussie keeper, the ball that got him was indeed one.

For Anil Kumble, last three years have been incredible. For him to reach the 600 wicket mark at Perth was most ironical of it all. As Mukul Kesavan has rightly put in his blog, we carry an enduring image of what the player has achieved in his final years at the crease. By that account, Anil Kumble has managed to dispel many misgivings on his overseas record. But more than his bowling, I was mighty impressed with some of the decisions that he has taken, whether it was sending a strong message to the Aussie camp on how to (and how not to) play the game, withdrawing charges against Brad Hogg, dropping Harbhajan Singh at Perth or electing to bat first upon winning the toss. Take a bow, Anil. Sometimes I wonder if captaincy arrived a tad late for you.

It is interesting (and also a lesson in itself) that every Indian player on a comeback trail has performed exceedingly well in last two years. Be it Saurav Ganguly or Zaheer Khan. We can safely add Irfan Pathan’s name to that list now. There are couple of ‘out of form’ players like Yuvraj Singh and Wasim Jaffer in the team and it would do no harm to have more players pushing them for a place in this side.

When was the last time Indian bowlers put up that kind of bowling display, over three successive tests, second innings at Sydney notwithstanding? The only instance I can remember is the 1986 series against England, which India won 2-0, with consummate ease. If India is staring at a 2-0 deficit in Australia inspite the bowling performance, the blame squarely lies with their batsmen.

Fortunately, Sehwag has ensured that the team got off to a great start, maintaining a run rate in excess of 4/over, in both innings. It is an ideal platform for the ‘Big Four’ to build their innings upon. A true paced Perth wicket, a healthy first innings lead, Sehwag looking good and an inform Sachin, Rahul, Sourav and VVS to follow. It can’t get more ominous for the Australians.

India has not lost a test at Perth in last 16 years. They are now perfectly placed to keep their slate clean for a few more!

15 comments:

Ottayan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ottayan said...

India has not lost a test at Perth in last 16 years. - A heartening statistic.

Soulberry said...

This is a new breed of bowlers CG. They don't quit.

What Sehwag does, even if it is a 30,40 or 50, is settle the dressing room and push the opposition onto the defensive. To begin with, he is an opener, and all teams come with some plans for the openers...with him, the only plan could be that he hits himself out. If he gets a four, then he's likely to reel off a few more and scatter all the team-meeting resolutions all over the ground.

It is that much tougher for the opps to regroup when the next bat comes in...that brief window makes it easier for the next to settle in.

I love Pathan...and I don't mean in any unnatural way! Just this boy's game and attitude...he has always captured my imagination with those.

RP has matured...well and truly matured. There was a time he might have felt just a bit like an outsider...but the crucial domestic seasons he played while skirting the fringes of the Indian team were important in his development. He knew what he had to learn and he had the opportunity and stage to do so.

This is where India has erred with Yuvraj...never gave him a season to solidify his game. I just hope we haven't lost our best one-day player of the past three years in the bargain.

Soulberry said...

Ott...you are hilarious. Please don't mind it, I am just pulling your leg, but you have picked an apt pseudonym/handle! :)

Cricket Guru said...

Laxman once again playing a useful knock with the lower order. How many times has he done it!

I agree SB, Sehwag is the difference between the two teams. Plus, Australia don't have Hayden in the team! A quickish 30/40, opening the innings, on this track is worth the gold.

325 ought to be enough. Anything over it is a bonus.

Golandaaz said...

Ponting is really hurt by slow over rates. The poor guy has to bowl spinners and that is what is turning this India's way.

I say 400. I don't trust this Australian team. They can win from nowhere

Cricket Guru said...

Slow over rate is something both teams, particularly Australians, should seriously look at. Not only is it hurting them as a team, but also amounts to shortchanging the fans.

Lead of 350 runs. India heading to Adelaide with score 2-1! :)

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scorpicity said...

Sehwag in many ways changed things around... how crucial is a start.

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