Friday, November 16, 2012

Familiar Script, But India needs the Confidence....

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Two days of the first test match are behind us. A very familiar script is unfolding. England have their best weapons in the middle at the end of this day. If they are to make a match of this test, KP and Cook are their only hopes. Cook, made a debut hundred in India and is right up there among the best to have played the game of test cricket. His record of reeling off hundreds at a pace faster than Tendulkar is out there for everyone to see. KP is well, just KP. He is Tendulkar, Sehwag and Laxman rolled into one when the mood is right. The ask is steep and two batsmen can't win England test matches in India.

Graeme Swann has done what Shane Warne couldn't do before. Commanded the respect of Indian batsmen and at times even foxed them and bossed them. Watching him bowl, with virtually no variation, but good, disciplined off-spin makes one feel if doosras and carroms are over-rated balls. Most pundits have pronounced that Shane Warne's success was attributable chiefly to his accuracy and then to his ability to intimidate. Swann may be the off-spinning version of a Shane Warne style bowler. It's always fun watching Indian batsmen play good spinners.

If anyone truly mastered Swann, it was Cheteshwar Pujara. This guy has vindicated everyone's trust in his ability. His composure is remarkable. He wasn't batting too slowly. He was simply batting according to the ball being bowled. So at times he seemed to be circumspect and at other times he seemed aggressive. But nothing was pre-determined about his batting. It was like watching Geet Sethi notch up his huge billards scores. Keep going by playing according to the merit of every ball being bowled. Nothing more or less. Being on 98 overnight was a direct product of this discipline. It was almost like he truly internalized Tendulkar's mantra that 100 is just a number. Pujara is practising what Tendulkar wishes he could. We all know that even the great Tendulkar plays differently while approaching landmarks.

The question that comes to mind is this. Are the selectors looking in the wrong places for replacements? Pujara doesn't set the T20 world alight. He doesn't play ODIs for India. He is a thoroughbred test batsman. Maybe he'll break into the ODI team, maybe he won't. But his test place is assured. We worried about whether he can replace Dravid and he has. Pundits will say, "Well, we have to see how he performs overseas." But we all know that  Pujara has bought himself one or two overseas series before doubts are cast about his ability to step up overseas. Personally, considering his temperament, I'm sure he'll do well overseas too. He'll defintely prosper in the Adelaides, Sydneys and Ovals. And if one or two centuries per overseas series are the benchmark to keep your place in the team, then he'll easily make it.

Virat Kohli seems to be hitting a slight patch of bad form. He could do no wrong in the last 12 months and it appears that he is now finding run making that much more difficult. But I give him a lot of credit for struggling through his 67 balls and not giving away his wicket. He should have been taken by Trott, but he shrugged that off and kept going. Attitude wise, there was no shortcomings, but I do believe that his form is beginning a worrisome downward trend. Happens to every batsman, but they work it off. Time for Virat to spend time with coach Fletcher and figure out a way out of this. Grit it out - as they say.

Yuvraj too played a determined innings and his hunger was evident in his approach. This is fantastic for Indian cricket that Yuvraj is respecting test match cricket for what it is and is working to crack the code. This is great news for the survival of test cricket too. I hope he makes a couple of good hundreds in the next few tests coming up and cements his place in the side for the next 8 or so years. For India, a formidable Yuvraj coming in at number 6 can only demoralize the opposition bowlers. He can take the right to the opposition as the situation demands and looks like is willing to buckle down and graft if the situation requires. Fantastic.

If I have no words about Sehwag's hundred, its because whatever I say, he can prove me wrong in the next few matches. He could end up throwing his wicket away or he could slam a triple. The guy is nuts. The team can afford him and also feed off him. His failures don't necessarily result in losses, but his successes invariably lead to victory. A nice place for the Indian team to be.

And finally the elephant in the room, Tendulkar. What's he doing in this team of kids? It feels like Amitabh playing a college kid in a bollywood movie. Of course the man can act well, even act like a college kid. But why? I'm sure he'll reel off a couple of hundreds in this series. He's still got it. But I ain't watching test matches to see him score hundreds anymore. Been there, done that. Now I'm watching Pujara, Kohli and even the new Yuvraj and perhaps Rahane or Rohit Sharma. That's right, I  haven't given up on that guy yet. :-)

1 comment:

pay per head service said...

you are so right about that, India does needs the confidence in order to overcome that bad batch, they need to believe in themselves, that's all