Grass is greener in Faisalabad

2006 Jan 20 by DreamCricket

Pakistan authorities try to get some grass to grow on the Faisalabad pitch in a matter of four days!

The pitch at Lahore ensured the match was dead and buried. But Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid still deserve plenty of credit for the manner in which they batted in the face of Pakistan's massive total.

It is true that while the home batsmen were on the rampage, the Indian bowling was coming in for plenty of flak. It was only when Pakistan's super-fast bowling attack was similarly tamed were we informed by the pandits that the track was to blame for blunting the edge of the bowling.

Test series these days tend to be preceded by so much hype and trash talk by players from both sides with the media goading them on and the cricketers happily obliging. That has been the case in both the Indian tour of Pakistan and the ongoing South African tour of Australia.

So even though the first innings could not be completed at Lahore with the weather intervening, it is the Indians who are now doing all the talking, particularly Sehwag.

Pitch or no pitch, the way Shahid Afridi and Sehwag (and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal as well) went about pounding the rival attacks is a tribute to their uncomplicated manner of batting.

Greg Chappell is right when he says Sehwag plays with an 'uncluttered mind', even if this lack of clutter also makes keeps him apparently happily ignorant about the heroic deeds of India's past cricketers.

Dravid opening the innings though while a laudable move, has also caused more complications than it has solved for the rest of the series.

This is reminiscent of Nayan Mongia being forced to open in the one-off Delhi Test against Australia in 1996, scoring a century and thus messing up the batting order for a couple of seasons.

The manner of permutations and combinations the Indian team think-tank is having to conjure up simply to open up a place for Sourav Ganguly is assuming ludicrous proportions.

His loyal Kolkata fans have sent across a signed bat to Dravid. This is apparently a peace gesture after their disgraceful behaviour towards the captain and the Indian team during the ODI against South Africa at the Eden Gardens late last year.

One wonders if they will ask for it back now that the team management has dropped him for the Faisalabad Test!

Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer must be wondering what they are doing on this tour if having been chosen as openers they will then be forced to cool their heels.

The pitch at Faisalabad will once again be the focus of attention. Apparently the Pakistan authorities tried to get some grass to grow on it in a matter of four days!

I am no horticulturalist. But this task appears to me even more monumental than the one the Indian selectors currently face as the series enters its vital phase.