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Of Tendulkar's century, quick Kingsmead and run-feasts - Suneer Chowdhary Column
by Suneer Chowdhary
Mar 08, 2009
As much a feast as it may sound, even the cricketing aficionados would be at loss to choose between following all the three concurrent series; especially on days when one follows the other at an alarming alacrity! Team India has gone 2-0 up after a Sachin Tendulkar-special bltzkreiged the Kiwis into submission in the 'cricket stadium' in Christchurch, the South Africans are on the verge of going down by the same margin - and in process losing the series - while the English and the West Indians struggle to find ways of picking twenty wickets on a pitch which most batsmen would love to sleep with. Oops, on!

After the biting cold had hit the Indians hard in the opening T20I encounters, the tourists have been a trifle lucky that the weather has warmed up for them. And so has the Indian top order in Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar. In the face of some strange shot-making by Gautam Gambhir, it has been a blessing that the duo has found form at the right time and the result has been there for all to see. Tendulkar's 163 was undoubtedly aide by the miniscule playing arena - called cricket ground by some - but in the end, what really came out of the inning was a full range of shots that would have sent any cricket fan drooling. There was the usual elegance and the panache, there was power and then there was the cheek and audacity to sweep quick bowlers for six; a memorable inning in short, made even more so by the fact that it was his first century in New Zealand. The 2011 World Cup may not be that distant a dream if Tendulkar can remain fit more consistently.

There should be a word of caution for the Indians though. The bowling has not yet looked a part in this series, and this has been due to a variety of factors like injuries, extreme climatic changes, flat batting tracks and smallish grounds. With Irfan Pathan barely looking half the bowler he was at the peak of his powers, Ishant Sharma struggling with his set of injuries, and Munaf Patel having yet to find the right spots to land the ball, Team India's bowling woes need to be sorted out.

Kingsmead in Durban was the host to the second test match between Australia and South Africa and for that one fleeting moment - or make that a day - one thought that this was Kingsmead of old. The second day saw the quick bowlers extract everything out of the wicket like a hungry kid enjoying a morsel of food after a rather long period of hunger! While the South Africans combined to capture the last six wickets for only 29 runs, Mitchell Johnson messed many a stumps, fingers and faces with a venomous spell of bowling that was akin to those days of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh bowling on a cracking WACA pitch!

And, to many an expert's surprise, they look all set to carry the match so far away from the hosts that South Africa would need to summon all their batting resources - bar Graeme Smith whose finger has been smashed to smithereens, again - to stave off the marching Aussies.

Lesser said the better of the pitches in the Caribbean. Of the last five completed innings, four have resulted in scores in excess of 500, including one above 600 and another 700! While it makes sense for West Indies to prepare wickets like these after leading the series 1-0, it would make no sense for any of the audiences to sit through this dull, one-way flowing traffic in the form of runs. Yet, Ramnaresh Sarwan seems to have capitalised fully on them and got to nearly 600 runs in the series so far. It is probably the pitch, or the fact that he has not been terribly excited by Kings XI Punjab's decision to release him from his contract with them!
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