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If only...

cricket Updated: Dec 05, 2007 01:45 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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In the time of instant gratification, when even a one-dayer is tedious for some, no result could be had after five days of cricket. There was just one day, the fourth, in the second Test when a century was not hit. A total of 1470 runs were scored at the cost of 23 wickets at an average of almost 64.

Good advertisement for Test cricket? It didn’t need a Geoff Lawson to answer that but the Pakistan coach was asked and he simply said there was no balance between bat and ball.

Most of the time a team goes to bat towards the end of the second day staring at a total of 616 and are half down for 150 in reply, it fails to survive. Pakistan surprised with Misbah-ul Haq and Kamran Akmal’s doggedness. Then there was the middle-order resistance on the last day, this time from Younis Khan and Mohammed Yousuf. Taking nothing away from those performances, it’s time India pondered on the missed opportunities.

Four of the five catches India spilled Test could have affected the outcome. Munaf Patel dropped Akmal, Sachin Tendulkar failed to hang on to a Misbah sweep and Rahul Dravid let off a fighting Mohammed Sami. All three had part in Pakistan’s saving a follow on.

On Tuesday, Dinesh Karthik let off Misbah. And with 23 overs to go, Wasim Jaffer and V.V.S. Laxman failed to react to a bat-pad that ballooned and fell between short-leg and forward short-leg. In the 10 Tests the Eden hosted over the past two decades, only two before this ended in draws. In last year’s Ranji Trophy, the wicket produced a result in most matches.

So what changed in one year that left even Bengal complaining after Hyderabad, following on, batted out the fourth day to save their Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match? Little apart from a curator who came in with the change of guard at the Cricket Association of Bengal. One whose conviction at having done a good job contradicted Kumble’s evaluation.

“The wicket was slow and the bounce was low… Nothing was happening,” the India skipper said. Mind you, Kumble was talking after the fifth day!