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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

India on path to victory in Kolkata Test, weather permitting

Mahendra Singh Dhoni bowlingat Adelaide OvalImage via Wikipedia
The Indians have shown themselves of worthy of being the No.1 test team in the World - the way the seniors have put their hands up and delivered is remarkable. Not only the batsmen, but the bowlers on the first day as well. If yesterday was the day of the Master and Blaster, today it was the Comeback Veteran and the Challenged Skipper. For long, VVS Laxman was always the fall guy - if anyone had to be made the scrapegoat for making way for the younger players, the name of VVS would be the first one on anyone's mind. MS Dhoni, after suffering his first loss at Nagpur, must be feeling good after his century (his ascent to the captaincy has increased his century list)

What this series has done is to remind the Indian public not to be so fickle-minded (and short-sighted). These legends have given their best for so long (and continue to do so). The replacements are not ready to replace them - just because their age is 35+, it is not mandatory for the Fab Four to retire. The youngsters have to prove themselves (provided the legends fail). As WV Raman suggested the other day, batsmen like Vijay, Badri have to be sent on an 'A' series to Australia, South Africa and England - only then they will improve. But, is it the Board's priority - not at all. IPL3 will be here in less than a month's time - how can anyone not play the prestigious tournament of the Board?

It is also fitting that South Africa should not reach the No.1 slot, going by their strategy today. Their approach has been 'safety first' throughout the series. Even while the pace bowlers are doing their bit, Harris goes on and on, bowling into the batsman's negative line. Yesterday and today as well, there was no rough for him to do any trick - this made him susceptible to the Indian batsmen. This negative attitude has been their bane even in ODI cricket - for this is the exact reason why they do not win any tournaments in T20/ODIs. Only if they come out of this approach and be aggressive, things will turn around for the team.

By the way, the match is not over. The pitch does not hold any demons (so far). But, the pressure that will be on the minds of the South African batsmen will cause few wickets to fall. This is where Kepler Wessels and the coach Corrie van Zyl will have their hands full. The weather will also play a crucial role in ensuring the Indian win and a series draw. Harbhajan, with his wicket-haul in the first innings, hopefully will play a big role in the looming victory.

All said and done, I expect a finish to the match by lunch on the final day. Let us see how things pan out in this test match.

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