Monday, October 4

...but Australia cometh first

18:45, IST
In 48 hours I will be looking back on the first day’s play of the first test between India and Australia. Another series will be underway, and the world will be watching. In some ways, I can’t wait. In most ways, I can’t wait. But I am apprehensive.

The last two series between these teams have been, almost, from a different planet. The Border-Gavaskar trophy has fact become the series to watch out for. While India’s win in Pakistan was historic and mind-numbingly euphoric, it is not in the same league- for sheer unpredictability, drama and deep self discovery.

The Aussies come here this time a much improved side in general, and against spin in particular. They are still savouring a worthy win in Sri Lanka despite Murali, and their confidence, hardly ever an issue, seems to be at its best coming into an Indian series.
India last played a Test in April this year, and there is only so much you can separate form in the two styles of the game. A string of insipid performances in ODIs starting July is the leadup to this series, and that is hardly confidence boosting. In 2001 India won with a stunning fightback heralded by a couple of amazing individual performances. Last year, down under, it was a wholesome performance from a spirited and self believing team. In both cases, the team rose way above its own form and general perception, to galvanise the cricket. What’s there to say we can’t do it again? Why the apprehension, you’d say.

Well, this time it will all have to be repeated. They must summon all that individual brilliance, all that steely resolve, all that team spirit. And what’s more, against a team that is probably the best prepared to visit our shores in recent times. The team must, yet again, rise above its own current form, and buck the trend. It will be a serious test of character for the men in blue. They have come through many in the past few years, mostly with colours that can be described as a little short of flying, and here’s another mountain. But for a team that is still groping for the Second Best in the world title, such tests are an inevitability.

As for an Indian cricket fan, is the the apprehension.
Or should I have been saying… excitement.

I can’t wait.

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