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
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,
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
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.