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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Series win in England

As the Indians start on their ODI circus, they will have time to rest their tired bodies and enjoy their success in the Test series. Hopefully, they will take their form into the 7-match series as well. The new personnel will bring in fresh blood and better fielders. But, it is time to enjoy the series win after 21 years in the UK soil.

One should remember that the win came against a depleted English bowling attack, though credit should be given to the bowlers for restricting the Indian batting might for much less than what was possible. What might have happened if Harmison, Hoggard, Flintoff were available? One can go on and on with such possibilities, but one should savour the moment while it lasts. The English batting though was represented in its full force, with the except of Flintoff and possibly Marcus Trescothick (when is he playing his next international match?). Once the Indians went through the first test match, escaping by the length of a cats whiskers, odds had increased on the chances of India winning the series - just like the earlier occasions it had happened. This win has even scared the Australian team who will be hosting the Indians later this year - this is evident in the comments made by the Australian coach recently.

The Indian openers, especially Dinesh Karthik, continued the good work done by the earlier opening pair during the last tour - Sanjay Bangar and Wasim Jaffer. They were able to negotiate the new ball and ensure that the subsequent batsmen had more time to adjust to the conditions. The great quartet came to the party, even though none of them scored a century. This must be the first time that a side won a series with none of the top six batsmen scoring a century. Rahul Dravid obviously suffered from the pressures of the captaincy - nowhere near the performances of the old. Sachin Tendulkar's batting has been deteriorating rapidly with slowing reflexes - but he has been showing his experience to stay at the crease and get some invaluable runs. Sourav Ganguly has justified that his spat with Greg Chappell actually did him good, with his batting better than ever before. VVS Laxman promised much but could not get the big score. How long can the quartet go on? Other than Sachin, they seem to be in a good nick though a little inconsistent. Their fielding is suspect however. MS Dhoni scored 50s of varied nature, but has to definitely show more consistency to justify his position alongside the greats like Gilchrist, Boucher.

The bowlers were the stars of the Indian team - Zaheer Khan making the best use of his knowledge of English conditions. Zaheer Khan must, however, prove that his new found skills can actually bring him wickets in conditions that are not conducive to the bowlers. He was supported by RP Singh mainly - Anil Kumble and Sreesanth were not their effective best in the conditions. Sreesanth seems to have gone back two steps for each step that he seemed to make during the South Africa tour. Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar helped the regulars by filling in with the odd overs, and even taking the breakthroughs. Another achievement by the bowlers, though none noticed it throughout - was the quick dismantling of the tailenders - all credit to Jumbo Kumble here.

Finally, the point that everybody has been talking about - was Rahul Dravid right in not applying the follow-on? Probably yes. The Indian team has a hectic schedule ahead of them and it was imperative that their bowlers had enough rest before starting all over again. The wicket didnt seem to have disintegrated at all - like Pietersen said, the test match could have gone for a week without any problem with the pitch. By inserting the follow-on, the Indian bowlers would have bowled for 3 days continuously - that is a recipe for disaster, surely. And, by doing what he did, the Indians ensured that the series win was in the bag. Finally, how does it matter really - whether it was 1-0 or 2-0? It was a decision that ensured that there was no risks taken while still making the win a foregone conclusion. All in all, an enjoyable outing to the United Kingdom, after 21 years - the Indians would take it if somebody had told them at the beginning of the series.
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