This may be a headline that is written too soon — and I agree that it is the person who lives dangerously that writes off a Dravid-Laxman-led revival. However, I would be most surprised if India wins this Test match from here. India go into day-4 just 14 runs ahead and with most of their recognised batsmen back in the hut. Dravid and a limping-Laxman would perhaps need to live in Harry-Porter-Land to pull this one off.
Harbhajan Singh is looking for a miracle from Dravid and Laxman! He said, at the conclusion of the 3rd days’ play, “We are looking to have good partnership in the morning. I hope Laxman and Dravid play what they played in Kolkata (in 2001) and put us in a good situation. And from there if we win the game it will be a great win for Indian cricket.” He then went on to have a dig at the batsmen, when he said, “Obviously, it is a little disappointment that as a batting unit we did not perform what we should actually have. These are the guys who have won games for India. It is just a matter of not clicking perhaps.”
The peach, however, was when he attributed Ajanta Mendis’s phenomenal rise to luck! “I wish I could pick his luck, the wicket taking luck. We all bowl the same sort of delivery. Obviously he is new in international cricket. The more the people play him the more they will get to see him. More people will learn about him. Obviously he got some variation and every ball have variations. Basically I would like to steal his luck. Wicket taking luck!”
Hmmm! That explains a lot then! Harbhajan Singh puts down his own miserable run with the ball to lack of luck! It is not about bowling tripe. It is not about the miserable fielding that the Indians have displayed in this series. It is about wicket-taking luck!
For the state that Team India finds herself in, one can blame the fielding — and it has been bad. But then, one could mount an argument that it has always been bad! So, whats’ new? One can blame the bowling — and it has been inconsistent and insipid. But then it always has been an inconsistent area for India!
For me and my money, the Team India state is reflected by its middle order batting. It is the insipid middle order batting that has made the difference in this series. India’s middle-order was its strength. It is not at this current point in time. Time after time, good starts have been squandered by acts that remind us of rabbits and headlights! There is a certain nervous tentativeness about the middle order batting that does not bode well for Indian cricket.
Although Muthiah Muralitharan and Ajanta Mendis have bowled splendidly, I am convinced that India’s much celebrated “F(L)ab Four” haven’t contributed to the series situation. As Dileep Premachandran said in his piece in Cricinfo, there has been a muddle order about the Indian middle order in this series.
India went into this series against Sri Lanka with a much-celebrated middle order. They are returning from the series with more questions than answers. I am sure that the call for the slow (perhaps forced) retirement of the celebrated four will only grow to shrill-pitch when the team returns to India regardless of the outcome of the current Test match!