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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eng-Ind - England go up 1-0

The 100th test match between India and England went the way of the hosts in a match that, though affected by rain, was played in bright sunlight most of the days. Though one can point their fingers towards the bowling, the famed batting of the No.1 test team in the world did not come to the ground. Agreed that the absence of Zaheer Khan helped England's cause but it was the clinical efficiency of the English team was visibly evident in the performances. The winning margin was almost the deficit that India had after both the first innings was completed - this meant that the match was lost then and there.

A look at the Indian eleven reveals the pluses and minuses from the test match:
  • Praveen Kumar. There was a question mark on his presence in the playing eleven. This match yet again, proved his worth to the team especially in such conditions. He was also a willing work-horse on whom MSD could go back repeatedly for an extended spell. Hope his fitness continues to be in the prime condition. His batting in the first innings showed how much Sehwag was missed by this team - the minute he started attacking the bowlers, the English were a bit disturbed.
  • Rahul Dravid. Hope no one raises the talk about his retirement plans once again. Rahul showed in the first innings why he is such a vital cog in India's batting wheel. His technique has changed a bit but it has helped him overcome the mistakes he was doing in recent times. It was a real surprise that he could not continue further in the second innings. He kept wickets, opened the innings and caught some tough catches - what more can the man do?
  • Suresh Raina. A dodgy decision in the first innings cut his knock short but in the second stint, he was the fulcrum of the Indian innings. He has showed in both the tours so far that he has worked hard on his shortcomings against the short ball and how. He was in no problems against the English bowlers during the innings - another attestation of Greg Chappell's prediction that he was a talent to watch out for.
  • Ishant Sharma. If he had listened to Zaheer Khan in the first innings, the Indian team would have been in a much better position in the test match. He was listless in the absence of Zaheer but produced a dream spell in the second. If he can repeat such spells in the forthcoming test matches, India has a good chance to equalize the series quickly.
  • VVS Laxman. His batting was in sync with his record of poor scores in the first test of a series (reflection of India's fortunes as well). He did well in the second innings but fell in both stints to his knack of pulling the ball in air. 
  • Abhinav Mukund. His temperament was good in both innings and impressed all the greats in the commentary box. If he reaches out to Sunil Gavaskar before the second test, he will have better options to tackle the weakness of reaching out to wide balls. A good back-up for the combination of Sehwag and Gambhir.
  • Zaheer Khan. Had dismissed both the openers on the first day before he walked out of the match. Has continued a knack of not playing all the test matches in an overseas series. The sooner he can make a reappearance in the eleven, the better the chances of India in the series.
  • MS Dhoni. His batting seems to be still in B-mode while his captaincy was decent enough with all the issues going around in the team. The team was down to 8 fit men in the second innings and the captain did everything in his capacity to reduce the final target. It was a good move by him not to tax Ishant after the lunch on the fourth day, despite all criticism he received - remember the likes of Srinath and Prasad being overworked by Sachin Tendulkar leading them to severe injuries.
  • Harbhajan Singh. There is no reason why Harbhajan is in the squad - maybe the team management think that it is not right to drop a bowler with 400 wickets. His outcome in this test (though Dhoni did support him) was the same as Suresh Raina - not to belittle either of them. He was clearly outperformed by Swann. The English bowlers knew the exact lengths to bowl to him also - making him ineffective with the bat as well.
  • Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir has to get into his groove as early as possible. Obviously, his elbow will be in focus over the next three days. If Gautam can get going, the Indian team can seize the advantage over the bowlers quickly. Without Sehwag, India depends on GG to get going.
  • Sachin Tendulkar. The legend was bogged down by a viral infection as well as the hype surrounding his 100th century. He is probably putting additional pressure on him to score the next century (also, getting one in Lords was worrying him also). Hope to see him back in his groove in the next test.
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