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Bowlers swing it for India
by NT Shiv Kumar
Oct 15, 2006
India started their campaign with a win that was hardly a match to the brilliant firework display at Jaipur. A win it was by 4 wickets against a less fancied England team but not comforting enough to feel sanguine about the task ahead. Much as Dravid tried to wing around the question on what plagued our modest chase, it left no one with any doubt that the Indian batting continues to wobble and has some distance to climb before it hits a ‘cruising zone’.

Virender Sehwag continues to grow JohnWright’s fan club (just to shed light on the context, for those unaware – Wright had pulled Sehwag’s collar after the latter had thrown away his wicket cheaply in England, 2002), Pathan is unsure about his role at number 3 and his batting style reflects his mind which is not sure if he is a pinch hitter or an anchor and the middle order loses its solidity when Dravid falls cheaply. There was no need for Dhoni to show his bravado at that stage which cost his wicket plus an additional one in Suresh Raina, who wouldn’t have been even padded up, to suddenly get to the middle and nervously prod at an innocuous low kept drifter to knock into his stumps and with that his self confidence as well - these are the moments of madness India can afford to avoid –though the one bright feature for me in that mayhem was Harbhajan getting promoted ahead of Agarkar!

There were several bright spots in India’s bowling and fielding display – foremost was Pathan getting into a good rhythm and striking early, Munaf continuing to apply his learnings, Harbhajan’s wily control that made the accurate Powar richer on the hauls and the fielding that was brilliant and perky even without Kaif.

Not often enough do the captains get credit for the positives but on this day, Dravid deserves kudos for showing faith on Pathan and asking him to open the bowling. He also kept attacking all through the England innings even when Pietersen briefly threatened to wrest the initiative and that paid dividends. I reckon the game changer in this match was Pietersen’s wicket at that stage- he canned Agarkar thru the line several times and was looking ominous before a momentary lapse of concentration forced an edge off Munaf into Tendulkar in the slips - another 40-50 runs more from Pietersen, we probably would have seen the game turn on its head!

Tendulkar whetted the appetite of the connoisseurs executing a few incredible on-the-up drives on the off and swiveling thru his short-arm pull that one hopes to see against Lee and McGrath. Yuvraj displayed remarkable maturity by spending time in the middle till the end and played a few delectable straight drives and cover drives Lara would have been proud of. India would be hoping to have him recapture the same form that fetched him 3 Man of the Series awards last season.

We are yet to see an edge of the seat thriller in this tournament and one hopes the matches this week present some run riots to match the pre Diwali fireworks!

More Views by NT Shiv Kumar
  Sehwag sizzler rocks Chennai
  India unearth ABC down under - Agility, Bench Strength, Cerebral Approach
  Dhoni says no to old age home, prefers young legs
  Opener Dravid crucial for India’s game plan
  Aussie Muscles Flexed by Indian Nerves
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