Thursday, October 28

T3 D2

145 for 5.
And our hopes must rest, again, on an improbable rearguard action. In fact, an extremely improbable rearguard miracle.
On a track that has always been a batter’s paradise and this time the cause for immense Aussie glee (i.e- “sporting pitch”), the Indian batting has looked all at sea. This in mainland Nagpur. The same place where all teams make around 400, sometimes 600. The same place where SRT averages 156 point something. The same place where long batting draws have always been likely. This is the same place where the Indian team finds itself in a situation stickier than gulab jamun syrup.

I have no idea why we batted the way we did. It is bad form combined with the pressure of keeping one’s wicket, and a dash of inertia. After an assured start, it all just fell away. Gillespie’s first over was an exhilarating and slightly crazy one. Before you knew it, Viru had done another Sehwag- 16 off the over, and one nick short of the slips. Alas, that was the end of that.
Besides Sehwag (and after Sehwag) everyone seemed so intent on making sure they did not lose their wicket that they lost their way. Chopra’s role is to blunt the opening attack etc, I know. But he can’t fool himself into believing that 4 hour 40s are what will always be expected of him. At any rate, he did not even touch double figures.
It was Dravid, surprisingly, who went into the ultimate “I will not do Anything” mode. It seemed sensible, and doughty, at first- when he and Sachin played with utmost caution. It seemed like the good ol’ give the bowler some respect, let him take the first hour you take the next four- sort of approach.

It did not work.
SRT went (again? should this be a cause for concern) to the one jagging back, trapping him LBW. He has quite a high ratio of bowled and LBWs in recent Tests, and most of the latter would have been through the gate, the ball coming in.
In walked Laxman at 50/3 and the commentators yearned for him to play his natural stroke playing game. Barry Richards pointed out interestingly ( and probably accurately) that Laxman’s game is still adjusting from the ODI form to the Tests. While it looks true, it is strange for a batsman who has always been much more comfortable in the longer form of the game. He has been looking nervous and tense these last few innings. Today was no different, and when he finally decided to go for a shot, he handed Warne his first wicket to a decidedly ordinary ball. Laxman looks the most out of form of the lineup, and the one who hasn’t scored in the longest. Maybe he needs to worry about his place in the team. Or maybe he already is, and it’s showing on the pitch. He is almost Warnie’s bunny this tour- 3 times out of 4 dismissals.
Dravid’s stolid defence eventually got him into some sort of rut, and he is a better player than that! A small lapse and Gilly snapped him up behind the stumps.

But McGrath Gillespie and Kasprowicz bowled with exemplary accuracy and focus. Long spells of tight pressure bowling- it was dull but not boring cricket, and definitely to be admired. Such sustained line and length bowling was strangling. Yet, a slightly more forthright approach from the batters may have made for more of a contest.

And again, it was left to Kaif and Parthiv to fight it out, and make the same statement, again- that numbers 6&7 can bat with caution yet score a little to keep the score ticking a bit. Unfortunately they are faced with more of an uphill battle than Chennai this time.
I think it is a big pendulum between getting into form, getting out of the ODI mode, and being solid in defence. Trying to focus on all of these, and an over cautious innings-in-clay is what you get.

16:30 hours, Indian Standard Time
In another surprising yet acutely familiar disappointment, the representatives of the Indian people- known in these times of woe as Team BCCI- looked hapless. A nation resigned itself to the fact that the 22 yard long strip of land in the central Indian city of Nagpur was not crumbling, but their team would. Crumbled, and how. It is a matter of grave concern that immense talent and skill has found an enemy it cannot pinpoint. It seems increasingly evident that this foe lies concealed somewhere in that much vaunted space- between the ears. At the time of writing, none of these spaces were available for analysis or comment. Keep your eyes pasted (and dry) for more on this.

sliding……This is not good…..not good at all

…and are we going to surrender the Final Frontier…

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