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Anil, Kohinoor in the Indian crown

A lead of barely 38 runs was not sufficient. But the Indians had one gem ? Kumble ? to bank heavily upon, writes Bishan Singh Bedi.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 12:31 IST
Bishan Singh Bedi (UNI)
Bishan Singh Bedi (UNI)

It seems the inclement weather, which continued to play cruel truant had a role in England's nine-wicket defeat against India in the second Test at Mohali.

There is little that can be done to combat the vagaries of weather. Smaller mercy then that after two days of playing hide-and-seek with the sun, last three days saw some dour cricket.

Time constraint kept all the flamboyant antics out of reach, almost. England's low score of 300 in the first innings was responded with equal marksmanship by the Indian batsmen.

The Indian captain alone played the role of defiance in keeping with his nickname "The Wall". The rest of the top order were lulled into somewhat of a complacency by the gloomy weather.

A lead of barely 38 runs was not sufficient by any standards to enforce the tourists to go off the backfoot. But the Indians had one gem— Kumble— to bank heavily upon. After he crossed the monumental milestone of 500 Test wickets, there was a visibly fresh spring in Kumble's heels.

India's new discovery Munaf Patel is an outstanding investment. He is fast, straight and very smooth in his approach to the wicket. With barest minimum effort, Munaf is easily the quickest of the new breed of fast trundlers. Hope the youngster will last in Indian cricket and without any serious injuries.

The other debutante, Piyush Chawla, has a long way to go before he belongs to the Test match special. I don't wish to be too harsh to the UP leggie, but seriously for his own good he must discover the leg-spinner as a match winning delivery.

He seems to rely too much on the top-spinner and the googly which is alright for junior cricket. The gap between his own wiles and requirements of Test cricket is too big. It has to be bridged before he gets the full feel of Test cricket again. For now Piyush can feel happy that he has finished on the winning side.

I was a bit surprised with England's aimless batting in the second innings. The procession of batsmen from the pavilion to the middle and back to the pavilion was a pathetic sight.

Admittedly Munaf and Kumble bowled good spells but nothing overtly menacing. And the wicket too had no hidden fears. It was more of a case of lacking in self-motivation. The game could have easily ended in an honourable draw with a little desire to stay at the wicket. The will and determination of the English batsmen was seen in absymal light.

The energy level required to raise the individual and collective self-esteem was sadly missing. In the end, it bacame too easy a task for the Indians to go one up in the three Test series.

Indian captain Rahul Dravid ensured a handsome nine-wicket win for India and in the process, helped Sehwag regain his form somewhat. In fact, the Mohali Test got over in almost three days considering the weather played spoilsport for nearly two days.

In a sense, both India and England made glaring errors with lopsided team compositions. Three spinners was undesirable for the home team and four seamers for England was much easy fodder for the Indian batsmen, especially when the tail wagged merrily in the first innings.

England were a curious case of over-alertness and under-alertness, almost simultaneously. There was apprehension, anxiety and uneasiness when bad weather stopped proceedings time and again. Suddenly when the game got underway, a feeling of disinterest, boredom and too loose and relaxed atmosphere overpowered the Englishmen.

Only their captain Andrew Flintoff was everready for a battle which was becoming more and more one-sided. The energy relating mechanism of the English players was poorly utilised and not consciously controlled. I am not too sure what sort of discipline code has been laid down by their coach Duncan Fletcher. It seemed there was no hurt in losing so tamely.

As for the home team, all is well that ends well. Rahul Dravid needs to quietly polish up his captaincy aggro. There were times when defensive and attacking tactics could have been more precise. Rahul will improve as he goes along carrying the entire team with him in a happy and tension free mode.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 14:51 IST