Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Players survive as India sinks to the guns of South Africa

By John Cheeran
A Test match that began so well for India, when it claimed two South African wickets for six runs, including that of skipper Graeme Smith, has gone so awfully wrong in the remaining sessions that host is licking its wounds.
What went wrong for India?
Was it the inclusion of Wriddhiman Saha who made his debut as a specialist batsman? Poor Saha, for all you know this may be the end of the road for the youngster.
India lost by an innings and six runs in Nagpur largely because of its batting failure. It's an oft-repeated story; where some of the protagonists make run but not good enough to shore up the side. Yes, we can again rave about the skills of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar and their centuries.
Look at South Africa. Hashim Amla and Jack Kallis set up the match for their side by playing really, really big knocks. That's the essential difference in approach by the two sides and one that separates the winner from the loser and No.1 from No.2.
May be no Test team would have been able to avoid the kind of collapse that India suffered in the first innings. But, then, again efficient sides redeem themselves playing their second innings with purpose. Think Australia. That did not happen in India's case.
Would things have been panned out differently had Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman been part of the squad? I really don't know. In a sense, that is pointless.
But the point is that apart from Sehwag and Tendulkar none really played his part in India's both innings. Gautam Gambhir failed in both innings but none wants to blame him because he has had such a wonderful run in recent times. Subramaniam Badarinath survives thanks to his half-century. Murali Vijay survives as he hung around in the second innings. MS Dhoni survives since he is the hottest brand and the captain of the side.
But half-measures would not help you to become the No.1 side in international cricket.
In the circus that has cricket become there is nothing called ALL IS LOST. You forget and move on. There is Kolkota and then there is another match.
Selectors have made the changes and brought in Suresh Raina, S Sreesanth and Dinesh Karthick. Will these changes eventually reflect in the composition of the playing XI?
Do all these matter, when we are waiting for the IPL curtain to go up?

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