Saturday, December 30, 2006

A prayer for a rain of runs in Durban

By John Cheeran
Saturday is going to be en extremely worrying day for India.
Graeme Smith has given them a target of 354 to win the second Test at Kingsmead, Durban. They have already lost that listless opener Virender Sehwag and skipper RahulDravid.
It has to be said that Dravid was given caught behind off the bowling off Mkhaya Ntini by Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf, a stupid decision at its best.
Dravid's innings was cut short at 5, and he was given out lbw in the first innings for 11, another dodgy decision by the same umpire, if I remember the events correct. Dravid's ill luck twice over has put India under tremendous pressure at Kingsmead.
The AFP report says thus on Dravid dismissal. "Dravid, the victim of a dubious lbw decision in the first innings, appeared to be unlucky again. He was drawn forward by Ntini and was given out by umpire Asad Rauf, although replays suggested his bat had made contact with his pad and not the ball."
The lone bright spot in the Indian second innings so far is opener Wasim Jaffer's grit and gumption.
And among all other things it is important to discuss weather.
The fourth day's play was cut short and it can be said that South Africa is the biggest gainer from that development. With 98 overs possible on the final day India still need 316 runs to win the Test.
India do not have enough overs now to go for runs. Victory is pretty much out of the cards, having lost skipper Dravid and given the hostile SouthAfrican bowling.
Let's face it, from now on there can be only winner, and that is South Africa.
But the lost time should make India's vision much clearer. They should not be nursing any hopes of victory and it will be suicidal to go for runs at any cost at this juncture. Indian batsmen should focus on frustrating South African bowlers by denying them wickets. Dravid's presence would have helped India a great deal for such a task and except VVS Laxman, rest of the batsmen, including Sachin Tendulkar, are unfortunately not up to the challenge of keeping vigil at the crease.
It is in such a scenario that weather forecast attains importance.
Cloudy weather is predicted for the final day and South African fast bowlers should relish such a prospect. With aerodynamics coming into full play, it will be a tough task for the Indian batting to guard their wickets.
In such circumstances Dravid's best ally should be rain, if not Sourav Ganguly.

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