Monday, March 4, 2013

This one's in the bag

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The most heartening sight about the ongoing test match between India and Australia has been the crowds. More than 28,000 on Sunday and close to 18,000 on Monday. This is good news for test cricket in India. There had been intense speculation about interest in this format after the batting greats Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Tendulkar left the scene. It was heartening to see people show up to see the match and Cheteshwar bat.

On the subject of Pujara -- l have been struck by the way he goes about his batting. I had written about his unhurried approach, playing the ball on merit regardless of match situation, etc. He added another feather to his cap by his fortitude on Sunday to bat through injury. Even though only 49 runs were scored in the morning session on Sunday I wasn't bored. Feedback from others would be nice, because I have to admit I used to occasionally get bored of Dravid grinding bowlers downtown by playing no shots other than leaves and dull thuds for the ball to drop dead. Pujara to me has a tempo to his batting that is different. I need to compare strike rates.

However, this is not to suggest that Dravid was a lesser batsman or anything like that. Just comparing their effect on my senses. Pujara's big test will obviously come abroad. If he can come close to changing the courses of test matches the way Dravid did in that period from 2003 to 2006, then he is it. He has already done enough at home. India are one batsman away from being able to take the fight to the bowlers overseas in my opinion.

Surely, Sehwag has played his last game for India as opener. He did get a good ball, but openers are supposed to deal with those. If it does happen that Sehwag is let go, then it will be a sad ending to an electrifying career. Rahane must get a game now. Vijay has bought himself more time and if he follows up this one with another good one in the next couple of test matches he would well and surely have arrived. But I wasn't mightily impressed with the way he batted. He was effective, but could not impose himself at any time on the bowlers.

On this match - Mumbai Indians will be pleased with their purchase of Maxwell. I thought despite his poor start and occasional lack of control (which I attribute to inexperience in Indian conditions), he bowled smartly. Switching to round the wicket was a good tactic though the lack of rough would have normally suggested it to be a poor choice. He isn't as good as Lyon, but I thought he has that Greg Matthews kind of feel to him.

This match is pretty much in India's bag. Someone from the Aussie batting line up must step up besides Clarke to make a statement. Kinda like Laxman's 167 in the doomed Sydney test from years ago. David Warner has been a huge letdown. I was hoping for some good feisty batting from him. Hughes is clueless against spin. And there are no batsman to follow Clarke. Henriques, Wade and Maxwell can chip in, but not own the batting except on the odd good day. And Watson hasn't shown us yet that he cares enough to grind, grunt and grit out tough sessions of play.

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