Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gambhir, Sehwag and Dravid lead run riot in Kanpur

By John Cheeran
India got a few things right at Green Park in Kanpur on Tuesday. First, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss.
Green Park pitch looks like a treat for batsmen and what good would have come out of it had Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and decided to bat?
Losing the toss would hurt Sangakkara all the more since he picked three spinners – Ajantha Mendis is in the XI—and Welegedara as the lone pacer.
So winning the toss and batting on a placid track were definitely to India's advantage.
And then Virender Sehwag survived the initial hour to unfurl a stream of strokes that left the opposition rattled. Meanwhile, Gautam Gambhir did his job to perfection. Sehwag scored 131 off 122 balls, an audacious effort, on the first day of the Test, after getting dropped on zero. Gambhir played a more responsible innings (167) that ensured that Indian openers put on 233 runs for the first wicket.
At the end of the first day, India had scored 417 for 2 with Rahul Dravid (85 not out) and Sachin Tendulkar (20 not out). It is India's highest score in a day in a Test in India.
Of course, the pace of Indian batsmen’s scoring and the whole positive approach was a direct result of the nature of the track. Most of the day, India scored five runs per over.
There is no doubt that now MS Dhoni would not like to declare India’s first innings but score as many runs as possible. If the rest of the famed Indian batsmen could join the run feast at Green Park, a total of 800 would not be impossible.
If one man can prevent that it is world's highest wicket taker in Tests -- Muttaih Muralitharan. It is not fortuitous
that Muralitharan dismissed both Sehwag and Gambhir. As the Test progresses, spinners are likely to play a central role in Kanpur and if anyone could exploit the conditions, think of Muralitharan first.
In conditions such as this, bowlers can get easily frustrated. Sri Lankan bowlers are going through a tough phase but sticking to the basics would be the best course of action.
It appears that Indian team management is keen to win the series and that is reflected in the changes in the bowling combination. S Sreesanth has come in place of Ishant Sharma and Prgyan Ojha pushed out Amit Mishra. But, then, it remains to be seen whether these two could pitch in India's push for victory.

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