2nd Test Post Mortem : Have the Indians and Australians switched jerseys? I cannot ever recall an Indian bowling attack, spin and pace, so dominant. I’ve not been following cricket as closely as some of you but I doubt that you can either. It is amazing to see the Austalians so completely outplayed in all respects of the game. Some will point out that this Aussie side is one of the weakest in recent times, missing it’s old warhorses( particularly in the bowling department), burdened by an aging player who is a shadow of his former self ( Hayden) and decimated by injuries and the absence of Symonds.( I think they really miss his combative nature; he lifts the whole side). However, this should not take away from the magnificent performance of the Indians. Every player contributed to the Mohali win and the captaincy was inspired. The team seems to have acquired a welcome feeling of self-belief, that they can win against anyone, and I think Dhoni has a big hand in that. At the end of this series, I expect at least two, more likely three, of the Fab 5 to either call it quits or be dropped and the resulting injection of youth can only improve the team , even if not immediately.
On the Aussie side, it would have been unthinkable even last year to imagine a public spat like the one between Brett Lee and Ricky Ponting. I suppose losing does that to you. It’s kinda sad to see.While the Australians will undoubtedly try to fight back, it will be difficult for them to get a win at Kotla.I know India pulled off an improbable win in Perth last year on the fastest of tracks but I don’t think the Australians can pull off an upset like that given their anemic bowling attack. The only possiblity of an Aussie win is if the Indians get over confident and thow away their wickets.
Kumble or Dhoni? For me the choice is clear. One is an over-the-hill bowler who probably is undeserving of a place in the side based on his bowling, an uninspiring defensive- minded captain. The other is young and dynamic , a thinking , aggressive leader who inspires his troops , an improving wicketkeeper who is more than handy with the bat. It’s not even close. If it weren’t for our streak of sentimentality, Kumble would have been dropped unceremoniously, never mind his past heroics. I don’t think that a place in the side should be an entitlement; these players are well paid for their efforts and there is no need to ease them into retirement. Unfortunately, it looks though as if Kumble is determined to play.The only way out for the selectors would be to sit him out on the grounds that he’s not fully fit. Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen; he’s as selfish as the rest of the Fab 5.
The Animosity against Dhoni. This is a guy who should be lauded for what he’s done , and not just in the shorter format of the game. I consider him, along with Rahul Dravid, as the only two genuinely unselfish players on the Indian team. And yet, he seems to get more abuse than praise from Indian cricket ‘fans’.He is regularly reviled as ‘Dhobi’ and his victories as captain are ascribed to his luck in winning the toss. His keeping is criticised and some even call for him to be replaced by Parthiv Patel ! As far as I can figure out, he’s criticised because 1) Ganguly supporters blame him for Saurav being dropped from the ODI squad 2) Tendulkar bhaktas feel that he slighted their idol when he said that the senior batsmen would have to pull up their socks and bat more responsibly. This happened on the Aussie tour last year. He was only being honest but I suppose you can’t say a word against Tendlya, no matter how deserved it is.3) His honesty is mistaken for arrogance. I hope that once these oldies retire Dhoni will get his due. If he keeps going the way he has been, we will not any longer have to hear about Ganguly being ‘ India’s greatest captain.’
The Height of Foolishness: A Ganguly backer seeing something sinister in Dhoni’s not enforcing the follow-on. Dhoni’s decision was a sound one since it meanta) his bowlers would have a bit of a rest b)the Aussies would be tired and under more pressure while chasing a big total and c) Australia , not India, would have to bat last on a deteriorating wicket. However, this chap wrote in to say that it was done so that Ganguly would not be the lone centurion in the test !
Grounds Preparation. The Kotla groundskeeper has stated his intention of giving Kumble a ‘farewell present’ in preparing a turning track. I know that the home team has the prerogative of preparing a pitch that will aid its bowlers.The Aussies and the South Africans prepare fast pitches to aid their pacemen and Indians favor turning tracks to give an edge to their spinners.However, this statement sticks in my craw. Firstly,the groundskeeper should not be injecting himself into the situation in this way. It’s carrying autonomy too far . It’s foolish to talk of giving one player a farewell present, no matter how beloved he is. Secondly, with an emerging topnotch pace attack, we should be preparing pitches that will aid both spin and pace. This will also help develop batsmen who will be comfortable against both rather than our flawed domestic heroes who struggle against pace when they go abroad.
Grown Men Behaving Badly. I’m glad Zaheer was fined 80% of his match fee.There’s no excuse for his outburst against Matthew Hayden. I also hope that he was cautioned that a repeat of such actions would result in a suspension. The Board should be laying down the law about what is acceptable behavior and what is not rather than always backing it’s players, right or wrong. Harbhajan too seems to have forgotten past history and is reverting back to his obnoxious ways. In the past, the Aussies were rightly criticized by Indians and others for their arrogance and unsportsmanlike conduct. How can we now act in the same way and try to justify it based on the Aussies past behavior? We have learnt to win. Now we must learn to be gracious winners.