Tag Archives: Jaffar

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-

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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-

The story since the last Kotla game..

The last time India played at the Feroz Shah Kotla, they beat Sri Lanka by a huge margin. Tendulkar scored a century and Kumble took a 10 for in the match. Irfan Pathan was the frontline fast bowler for India. He also opened the innings and scored a career best 93. Dhoni had just made his debut in the previous match and although Sehwag didn’t play the game, he was still a central figure in Indian cricket.

That was close to 2 years ago. Since then, a lot of things have happened. Pathan lost his in-swing, his pace and then his place in the team. Sehwag too lost his form and was dropped. Although Pathan has made a comeback into the ODI team, Sehwag is still not a permanent fixture.

Tendulkar went without scoring a hundred in the next 10 games and finally broke the streak with 2 centuries against Bangladesh. He has been averaging only 36.87 since the hundred at Delhi and if we take out his scores in the series against Bangladesh, he averages just 28.68.

Saurav Ganguly was dropped too and Yuvraj Singh (who had a 100+ partnership with Dhoni in the second innings) has been in and out of the team. Laxman’s position has also been in doubt during this period in spite of his 40+ average.

The one player who has had a consistent  presence in the Indian middle order has been Rahul Dravid – the wall,  although he has since given up his captaincy. He has been averaging 53+ during this time which is only slightly lower than his career average of 56.50. The other positive thing for India is that they have found two good openers in Jaffar and Karthik (or have they?).

In the bowling department, Kumble has been consistent as ever, although Harbhajan Singh dropped out of the team owing to poor form. This may well be Harbhajan’s comeback Test.

The fast bowling department has improved by leaps and bounds with Zaheer Khan finding his rhythm and the emergence of RP Singh and Sreesanth (although, the two may not play tomorrow owing to injury).

Now, that’s the story so far. What should we be looking out for in this test and this series? Here is my list –

  • How the openers perform: Sehwag has been kept out of the team in spite of a 90+ average against Pakistan. If any of the openers fail twice in a row, I would expect Sehwag to be back in the team, although a lot of people would argue that he shouldn’t open the innings anymore.
  • Performance of Laxman and  Ganguly: I am pretty sure these two players are on notice in spite of some decent scores in England. Unless they perform in this series, it would pretty much be the end of their careers.
  • Kumble as a captain: It would be interesting to see how he goes about captaining the team. I would also like to see he reacts now when someone misfields 🙂
  • Dravid and Tendulkar: I expect both these players to score well. Dravid in particular has a point to prove after he was dropped from the ODI squad. I also hope that Tendulkar’s true turn to form will happen in the ground where he scored his last “real” hundred.
  • Bhajji’s bowling: Harbhajan has bowled well in the ODI series. But that is completely different to Test match bowling. Pawar has had some excellent performances in the Ranji Trophy tournament and unless Harbhajan delivers, it is either Murali Karthik or Pawar boarding the plane to Melbourne in December.

What about the team for tomorrow? Kumble has hinted that Yuvraj may not play. With RP Singh and Sreesanth injured, India may turn to Munaf Patel (who has been called in as cover) to open the bowling with Zaheer Khan. I think this may be the team that plays tomorrow –

Dinesh Karthik, Jaffar, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Ganguly, Dhoni, Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Patel

And for a bit of trivia before I finish up:

  • India has a six-match winning streak at the Kotla
  • It is a lucky ground for the captain, Kumble having taken 48 wickets @15.45. He also has his best figures of 10/74(!) in this ground playing against Pakistan.

-Mahesh-