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Don?t be cruel, support Sachin

My mum would always tell me, 'If you can't praise something, sit quietly,' writes Geoffrey Boycott.
None | By Geoffrey Boycott
UPDATED ON MAR 21, 2006 11:30 AM IST

I’m delighted to say that we have the makings of a great Test, because we have found what is a rarity in the subcontinent - a proper pitch that offers something to both batsman and bowler and challenges everybody to give their best.

Unfortunately for India, their batsmen have just not done the job. And they are a batsman short so in no time at all, we see the likes Pathan and Dhoni because neither Sehwag nor Tendulkar are in form, and the tail can't wag every time.

So I come to the question that everyone's been asking: why bowl first? Dravid must have taken the decision in conjunction with Chappell but every person I meet, even young kids, can't believe that India actually opted to bat fourth on a pitch that has been known to turn square and crumble to dust during the latter stages of a Test.

I'll tell you what I think. At the start of the match, Dravid, Tendulkar and Kumble were all presented with those lovely silver salvers, and Dravid, being the good soul he is, thought England needed a present too, so what better way to give them one than to bowl first? I speak in jest, but seriously, Dravid threw England a lifeline, and they have grabbed it with both hands.

I think India simply got over-confident, and thought they could roll England over easy. Another factor could have been the fear of facing England's seamers on the slightly damp pitch that we saw on day one, but I think that's just stupid. No damp patch can outlast the Indian sun in March, and it would have dried up in an hour at best.

To England's credit, they have batted superbly. India's butter-fingered fielders have helped, and I can't help pointing out that Laxman would have been invaluable in these circumstances. So what now? India still have a slim chance of saving the match, but they have to get England out cheaply. However, England have a history of sudden collapses, so India shouldn't lose hope. All in all, it will be a great game, as I said.

What has marred it for me, however, is the booing of Tendulkar. It was disgusting, and when he most needed their support, his hometown crowd stabbed him in the back.

My mum would always tell me, "If you can't praise something, sit quietly." Booing and hissing is simply not on, not with Sachin, not with anybody. He's at a low ebb now - he needs support, not cruelty.

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