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India in transition


For what was once known, is now foregone.
For what was once faith, is now our doubt.
A hope in the future, the past we mourn,
Change sometimes, draws a picture forlorn.

And so it begins - India’s search to find batsmen who can make up the middle order, after almost 16 years. First Ganguly, then Dravid and now Laxman have vacated their spots but India doesn’t seem too perturbed. There are quite a few players who, given time and experience can become India’s next fab four. With that in mind, quite an unfamiliar Indian team donned the whites today.

The dynamic duo of Sehwag and Gambhir opened the innings. They were familiar faces as was the manner in which they were dismissed. The only thing different from the last 8 Test matches was the confidence they batted with. Sachin looked good until another relatively unknown bowler Trent Boult, got him out with a ball that swung back in. Sachin was late on the ball but squatted down indicating the ball kept low…another all too familiar sight. Then came Virat Kohli who played as fluently as he has been playing but threw his wicket to a delivery that should have been left. All the while standing at the other end was a tyke biding his time.

The man who impressed the most on the first day of play in the series against NZ was Cheteshwar Pujara. He crafted a masterful century and played some strokes that made him look like a seasoned pro. The grind in the domestic circuit where he amassed 4,639 runs in 64 First class games has held him in good stead. It may not have tested his technique too much and neither did the NZ bowling attack, but what has been honed is his temperament. Pujara played shots all around the park, but the shots he played were off balls that deserved to be put away. On the up shots were few in between and were played with adequate foot movement. Even after his century he left balls outside the off stump and hardly played a false shot. Ask the Ranji bowlers and they will concur, he loves playing long innings. He definitely has two of the ingredients required to survive at the highest level - patience and talent. 

What surprises is his feet don’t seem to get tired. He used his feet to Jeetan Patel and Kane Williamson throughout the match. His nimble footwork got him into great positions while facing up against the seamers as well. The exaggerated follow through of his wrists while playing on the leg side reminded one of a certain ‘Hyderabadi.’(Pardon the comparison) His technique looked compact and he played the ball late using his wrists to generate enough power. As mentioned above, a home game and the NZ bowling attack may not be the toughest test for his technique but an average of 50 odd in the India A tour of West Indies does bode well for Indian cricket. 

When Ravi Shastri asked him if he was looking for a big one at the end of the first day’s play, his reply was a flat, “Obviously.” Rahul Dravid will be pleased with his successor.  

The number six batsman was the most disappointing of all. Caught down the leg side, Suresh Raina has a lot of issues to sort out ranging from his problems with the short ball to figuring out how Rohit Sharma got himself a date even after striking out so much. Another failure and he may have to make way for Badrinath or Rahane, who quite frankly seem much better players. 
This home series is a slow initiation for the next generation batsmen, but day one certainly belonged to the future of Indian cricket.

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