This piece starts on a sad note, as Ashok Mankad is no more. “Kaka” to all was one of the dadas of Mumbai cricket. Ashok was nearing the end of his career when he passed the baton of Mumbai cricket to youngsters like us in early 80s. One of the most astute men in the game, Kaka was infectious in his humour and never shy of offering advice to anyone who went up to him. May his soul rest in peace. His was no age to go.
Nor was the manner in which Indian batsmen went back to the hut after a promising start to the second day. Virender Sehwag and V.V.S. Laxman looked in command before the final six went for 51 runs, four of them to mystery boy Ajantha Mendis who swelled his tally to 14 from three innings. Indians, by and large, still don't have an answer to his tricks.
Not Virender Sehwag though, as the Delhi swashbuckler produced one of the most astounding innings of recent times. He scored 71 of the 112 added today -— his double-century nearly 60 per cent of the total. At the pace at which he scores, his consistency in getting huge scores in Test matches is quite amazing. Unfortunately, his message appeared to have been lost on his fellow men.
Mendis has this knack of producing an unplayable delivery in between a few loose ones, which at least Sehwag was quick to capitalise on. The rest still appear too mesmerised by his guile and variety. Despite Sehwag's mastery, Mendis is a code yet to be cracked by the Indian lot.
The game has moved at a quick pace despite the rain on the first afternoon. Runs and wickets have come in quick succession, which suggests it's a good Test strip. The next few days are unlikely to get any better though for batsmen, as it's an extremely dry surface. Hot and humid second day would surely help tweakers to have a still stronger hold from now on. Reverse swing too could come into play.
Harbhajan made it count today. He has brought India back on an even keel in this game. At the end of the day, Harbhajan has given India more than a fair chance in this game. Both the teams would look to seize initiative which they squandered on the first two afternoons.