The ‘FAB Four’ may be under intense scrutiny from the media and the public, but the one man who matters the most, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, chairman of the national selection committee, is very much keeping the faith.
“The batsmen did an excellent job. In a trying situation like this, experience comes into play and everyone saw the value of that today,” he said soon after India had secured a draw on Monday.
The straight-talking former India captain made his view on India’s senior batsmen plain. “The batsmen were able to apply themselves well. On the one hand you can’t go for your shots, at the same time you have to defend. It’s not easy to bat on a fifth day pitch and you need a lot of mental strength. The experience of Sachin, Laxman, Dravid and Ganguly proved very useful in this Test match. Even though no batsman got a century, if you look at both innings together, all batsmen have scored. That’s a very good sign.”
On the day, you could not argue with Srikkanth’s logic. In the first innings Rahul Dravid (51) and Sourav Ganguly (47) contributed and on the final day it was Sachin Tendulkar (49) and VVS Laxman (42 not out) who came good, with Ganguly once again playing a strong hand.
“I was very impressed with Sachin’s knock. In trying conditions, it was not easy to bat. I have seen the wicket and there are huge cracks in it. The ball was keeping low at times and at other times, coming through at a good height,” said Srikkanth.
“That’s why Sachin is Sachin. It was a brilliant knock and well supported by Laxman. If you look at the overall picture it was a fantastic team effort. In the first innings Zaheer and Harbhajan fought brilliantly. That’s a great quality, not giving up and fighting hard.”
While he was at it, Srikkanth also laid to rest any doubts about Anil Kumble’s fitness. Kumble, who went wicketless for only the third time in his 131-Test career, for the first time on Indian soil, was off the field for nearly two hours on Sunday.
Kumble had a sore right shoulder and returned to the field later on and sent down seven overs. This, however, was not enough to end speculation that he might take no further part in the series.
“He is fit enough to play. You saw him bowl, I don’t think there is any question about his fitness,” said Srikkanth.
“He was a bit unlucky – he dropped catches off his own bowling. What he needed was a bit of luck. He’s such an honest, committed cricketer, I’m very confident he will win the series for us. Don’t forget he’s a cricketer who hasbowled his heart out all these years.”