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Increasing the Charge

On one level, it could be argued that given that Australia won the toss and had the best of the conditions, India probably had the tougher task in the match. Kumble’s injury made it difficult further, and that they came out of it without even a big scare augurs well for them.

Moreover, Tendulkar actually produced a rare impactful fourth innings knock (given that he averages 34 in 55 innings, compared to Dravid’s 46 in 49 or even Ganguly’s 38 in 43, this is significant) that actually saved India the test (another rare occurrence for Tendulkar; only the second time he has done it in his career), it shows a certain kind of hunger that has to be a good thing for this team (Laxman and Tendulkar scored 91 between them in 268 balls in six hours, an uncommon and very welcome sight, given the circumstances). All the batsmen (except Dhoni) had some kind of outing in the middle, so there’s something to look forward to perhaps in that department.

Bizarrely, India’s spin bowling was the weak link, and Australia’s unfancied spinners actually have better figures than them (3-166 as opposed to 3-370). Kumble looks seriously off-colour and one suspects it has more to do than an injured shoulder. He was inaccurate (drifting down the legside way too often) and unimaginative a lot of the time, which suggests the saturation is complete. His captaincy was quintessentially cautious and lacked spark, and one can only hope he is not fit for the second test. Frankly, if India is to play three pacers in the Mohali test, is Kumble the single spinner India wants to go with? Scary thought. It’s good that he hasn’t announced his retirement yet, otherwise he’d be in the team for sentimental reasons.

Ganguly’s first innings was a gritty, solid effort which clearly suggests that he still has some fuel left at this level of the game. However, the rather
typical controversy just before the test began probably gives cues to why he is retiring more than anything else. Ganguly’s propensity for intrigue and politics lost him the respect of his team and subsequently the captaincy three years ago and is probably also why the team would not exactly be heartbroken when he leaves the scene altogether a month from now.

There has been talk about lack of intensity from both sides and Zaheer Khan rounded it off with the sneer that accompanied his remark about this being the most defensive Australian side he has played. Perhaps he was exaggerating a bit, but it should have the desired effect of increasing the charge in both camps. Ponting has responded with a jibe of his own claiming that Australia were the only side playing attacking cricket in the match.
This spark of intensity is a hugely exciting prospect if the wickets are a little more like those in 2001 in the remaining three venues.
(Click here to know more about Jaideep) 

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