Daily Archives: 26 November 2007

India win first test

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.

-Mahesh-

A world of bent elbows and javelin throws

India should consider obtaining the services of Fazal Ansari, triple national javelin champion, to equip themselves to playing a certain fast bowler representing another nation within the sub-continent. Of course, it would be preferable that Mr. Ansari uses a cricket ball as opposed to hurling a pointed spear at the Indian batsmen. I have watched two of the concurrent series (India v Pak and Aus v Sri Lanka) with great interest and cannot but avoid raising this issue of unconventional delivering of the red cherry at batsmen. It not only looks disturbingly ugly but seems unfair to see a tamil speaking sri lankan, a “blonde-wannabe” srilankan, an australian pop star, and now a “spoilt brat” pakistani do everything but demonstrate the beautiful art of bowling.

Their more than just unconventional style of delivery seems to take away the beauty of watching cricket in its purest form, especially, when you get to see some fabulous swing bowling from Zaheer Khan, wonderful leg spin of Danish Kaneria, or almost perfect line and length bowling by Stuart Clark. It just does not seem correct!!

 Any takers?

-Srikanth

Day 4 – Advantage India

In a game where both teams seemed bent on surrendering the advantage back to the opposition, Pakistan did just that on the fourth day morning. They started the day at 212 for 5 with both Misbah and Kamran Akmal looking good, but handed the game back to India by being all out for 247. Of course credit should be given to Zaheer Khan for his wonderful spell in the morning. But Misbah and Sami committed Hara-kiri, giving their wickets to Ganguly, who surprisingly took the new ball in the middle of his over and got Misbah-ul-Haq’s wicket of the first ball. Sami, who had played patiently while Misbah was still at the crease then tried an all-mighty slog to give Ganguly his second wicket.

Kumble then decided to bowl the next over with the new ball and even before people could wonder why Zaheer wasn’t bowling, Kaneria ran himself out. Within a space of about 4 balls, Pakistan went from 243/7 to 247 all out, setting India a target of 203.

Shoaib Akthar was the main threat to India’s batting and he snared all three Indian wickets. Karthik failed in the match for the second time, but Jaffar and Dravid first steadied the innings and when they got out, it was the turn of Tendulkar and Ganguly to build another partnership. At stumps, India need another 32 runs to win and should be able to get it, unless something extremely out of the ordinary happens.

The highlight of fourth day’s play was Saurav Ganguly. If Laxman had silenced his critics in India’s first innings, it was the turn of Ganguly to do it today. He first took two wickets and then struck a fluent 48 of just 61 balls. Hopefully, he and Tendulkar will stay at the crease on day 5 to see India through to victory.

-Mahesh-