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Dhoni is on the money in tests too.
by Gulu Ezekiel
Dec 09, 2005
Hopefully this is the last time Chennai's ardent cricket lovers will have to sit through the ordeal of a rain-ruined international match.

The absurdity of hosting cricket at Chepauk in the months from October to December has really hit Indian cricket hard. First the ODI against South Africa was washed out without a ball being bowled last month and now a five-day Test match reduced to less than one-and-half days.

A pathetic state of affairs indeed especially as the India/South Africa was deadlocked 2-2. With Chepauk traditionally favouring spinners, there is every indication that India could have clinched the series if the weather had not intervened.

Given that so little cricket was possible in the first Test, it really goes to the credit of the Sri Lankans that they were able to take away the few positives that could be gained. This is especially so considering they have just returned to India after receiving a 6-1 hammering in last month's ODI series and are also without their most seasoned campaigner, former captain Sanath Jayasuriya.

Fortunately the Chennai crowd is not as parochial as their counterparts in Kolkata and did not make a hue and cry over the exclusion of wicket-keeper Dinesh Kaarthik. The same indeed could be said for Hyderabad and Bangalore where there were no protests over the dropping of favourite sons VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble for the ODI series. It is a credit to all of them.

In fact, what little the home team gained from this truncated Test match came from debutant Mahendra Singh Dhoni who batted without nerves in his first Test and also pouched a catch.

Apart from a flashy little gem from Virender Sehwag, the way the Indian batting crawled on the final day was quite unbelievable. How could a classy strokeplayer like Laxman scratch around for 64 balls for a meagre 5? Tendulkar too looked a shadow of himself.

As for Ganguly, his supporters will have been disappointed as he was once again predictably found wanting against pace. In typical fashion, he was also culpable in Laxman's run out and his two overs as an 'all-rounder' yielded 16 runs. Kotla is obviously his last chance in Test cricket.

The Lankans have never won a Test match on Indian soil in nearly a quarter of a century of trying. They have proved their dismal one-day form is behind them and that they are no pushovers.

On the face of it, news of Dravid's and Sehwag's visits to the doctor ahead of the second test does not bode well for the Indian team. But things are not as dismal as they look. The in-form batsman Yuvraj could provide the boost that Team India needs after the lack-lustre Chennai performance.

Test matches between India and Sri Lanka have rarely produced cricket worth writing home about. But hopefully this time around, we should see some exciting stuff both in New Delhi and Ahmedabad.

Certainly the Indian team could do with a tough workout before they embark on a trying tour of Pakistan next.

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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