India scored the remaining 32 runs need for victory against Pakistan within the first hour this morning taking a 1-0 lead in the 3 test series. It was an all round team effort for India. Apart from Karthik who scored just 10 runs, pretty much everyone else contributed with the bat in a low scoring match. Jaffar scored a half century in the second innings to go with his 32 in the first innings. Dravid had scores of 38 and 34. Tendulkar got a second innings 56 and he along with Ganguly were partially responsible for making the winning target look small. The strike rate at which Ganguly scored also helped reduce the target quickly. Laxman and Dhoni both scored half centuries in the first innings and ensured that India were still in the game.
For the bowlers, Kumble led with 7 wickets and Zaheer grabbed 4 for the match. Harbhajan took 3 wickets while Ganguly surprisingly ended up with the same number of wickets (not to mention the vital breakthroughs at the right moment). Munaf bowled well in the first innings, but had to settle for just one wicket.
There were several positives from the games –
- A lot of times in the past, India have looked to just one or two players to get them out of trouble or to put them in a winning position. But in this instance, it was a team effort and that should be lauded.
- Captaincy of Kumble – He brings his own unique style to the captaincy and I think I like his style 🙂 – Who else would give Ganguly the new ball in the middle of an over, eh? 😉
- 3 seamers in Indian pitches always seem a luxury, but Ganguly filled the third seamer role quite well – he bowled 21 overs and even took 3 wickets in the process. He was also quite economical, allowing the pressure to build up.
Are there areas for improvement? Plenty, actually –
- India struggled to keep the winning momentum going through out the match. They would gain the upper hand on the match only to hand it straight back to Pakistan. Actually, it seemed as if both teams were competing with each other to hand the game to the other team. It was a far closer game than the result suggests – if Pakistan hadn’t self-destructed and lost the crucial morning session on the fourth day, the game could have gone either way. Don’t expect teams like Australia to do such favours.
- India also struggled to get the Pakistani tail out quickly in the first innings. Although they made amends in the second innings, this is an area they need to look into.
- The Indian tail didn’t learn any lessons from Sami and as soon as Kumble got out, they seemed to be in a hurry to follow the captain back to the Pavilion.
- Karthik just had a bad game. He should be looking to Eden Gardens to make amends
- There were some good catches (Laxman, Karthik), but there were dropped ones too (Harbhajan, Jaffar). Again, it is something they should strive to improve
And the team for the next match? Barring any sudden injury to the current XI, I don’t see any changes happening. Sreesanth and RP Singh are still not fit and won’t be playing at Kolkatta. There have been and there will be more calls to include Yuvraj Singh in the playing XI – but as CricInfo pointed out, Yuvraj will have to wait.
As far as Pakistan are concerned, the only bowler who looked threatening was Shoaib Akthar. Sohail Tanvir bowled one good spell, but that was it. Asif was sorely missed and his bowling could have made a huge difference to Pakistan. In the batting department, Misbah-ul-Haq was the lone saving grace. Pakistan are over dependent on Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan – and it showed in this game too.
There are still two more games to go in the series and India can’t get complacent after winning just one. Hopefully India will go into the second game as a confident team, but not an over confident one.