OK, OK, the above headline is extremely corny, but I am in Indiana,
after all :-)
The Second Day of the Eden Gardens Test can be best dubbed as India's
Batsmen's Day. The openers Navjot Sidhu and VVS Laxman did more than
their share to provide a solid foundation for a large total. The other
upper order bats did not fail either, as the Indian batting machine
fired on all pistons to add to the frustrations in the Aussie camp,
after being bundled out for a paltry score of just 233 on the first day.
If anyone is to be thanked for today's fine batting display, then all
credit should go to the openers. From the very first over, Laxman was in
an attacking mood, as opening bowlers Kasprowicz and "Blocker" Wilson
were belted all over the park. Sidhu looked unsettled for the first hour
or so, but then started to use his feet with style as the duo kept the
scoreboard ticking at an alarming rate. It is to be noted that both
players cleverly rotated the strike (Sidhu 152 balls 16x4, Laxman 161
balls, 16x4) and did not play any cavalier shots that would have done
them in. Predictably, the Aussie bowlers pitched the ball in short,
looking to scare their oponents, but the plan backfired as the short,
rising delivery was sent on its way to the fence. Laxman played his
natural game and dazzled the spectators with all the strokes of a Test
player, whilst Sidhu used the good old Sardar grit to pound fear into
the bowlers' hearts. Unfortunately, both bats got out without a century
(Sidhu 97, Laxman 95).
The little genius proved again today why he is often rated as one of the
best batsmen in the world. His innings of 79 reflected a stress free
game, with 12 fours and two towering sixes in just 86 balls, with a
strike rate that any one day bat would have been proud of. His shots
were expemplary to good batting, as he pulled, cut, hooked, and drove to
humiliate the bowlers. Again, Tendulkar may have reached a century, but
failed to control his shot and spooned a catch to Blewett off
Kasprowicz. India's score read 347/3, a commanding total, and by no
means the final score of India's first innings.
Dravid & Azhar: Looking good
Of all the batsmen, Rahul Dravid looks to to be the most favourable for
to knock a century. The South Indian lad looked initially cautious, but
settled into a pressure free environment, and knocked both the good and
bad ball with equal ease. Azhar was the last man in for the day, and
managed to put nine on the board before stumps were drawn. Both players
looked in good nick, and no doubt Ganguly will have a piece of the
action with the bat, as he comes in tomorrow.
Warne's plight: Bad bowling, or unskilled bowler?
The natural question one will ask after seeing the figures 24-2-90-0
will be: Wait. Isn't that Aashish Kapoor in the West Indies?!
Unfortunately, the numbers belonged to Shane Warne, the supposed
spearhead of the Aussie bowling attack in India. The obvious conclusion
was simple: India has spinning tracks, Warne is the best leggie around,
Australia win the series 3-0, end of story. Not quite. Not only did
Warne disappoint with a sudden wicket drought, but instead proceeded to
be hammered like a street kid from Mumbai bowling garbage to the
batsmen. The underperformance by Warne perhaps goes to show that his
kind of spin is ineffective in India, where the batsmen are raised to
play quality spin. Not detracting for the fact that Warne is a great leg
break, but he's being read too easily as thus being knocked out the
attack more times that what is expected from a bowler with 300+ wickets.
Australia: Simply bad bowling
The other bowlers were no less better, with Paul Wilson having 12-2-50-0
to show for his effort. In fact, the pick of the bowlers was Kasprowicz,
with dreadful figures of 24-5-86-1. Not the Australia that I've seen in
the last 10 series, I assure you.
Yet, we have another three days of interesting cricket, where Australia
seek a Test victory to stay alive, and India seek a victory to send the
Aussie boys packing.
Great stuff, this.
Boy: Daddy, Daddy, why is India doing so well against Australia?
Dad: Because the Indian batsmen learned how to read Warne.
Boy: And how did they do this, Daddy?
Dad: Because someone in the Australian camp spilled the beans! :-)