Incredible fightback by India | india | Hindustan Times
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Incredible fightback by India

Can India manage to win the test and silence the critics? Atul Sondhi analyses the odds.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 15:31 IST

Nothing succeeds like success. For the past fortnight, Greg Chappell and his man have been on the defensive, listening to the people baying for their heads. They were compelled to give more answers about tactics and strategy, than concentrating on the job in hand.

Now, may be, Greg can relax in peace. After all, India may have got themselves into what could well turn out to be a potentially winning position.

And for this, they will have to thank their bowlers for sticking to the task and batsmen, for playing a few more shots than what they did in the first innings. The question now is, what exactly is in India's favour as they attempt to win the test and the series.

Incredible VRV

After he got so muchflak for his performance on the second day, it was VRV's turn to turn the tables on his critics with some inspired bowling on the day three. Considering the pitch was responding more favourably to the faster variety of bowlers, VRV unleashed some terrifying stuff on the tailenders.

With a speed measured regularly over 135, his five overs (32 balls) on Sunday night saw as many as 20 deliveries bowled short of length, with both his victims out to some fiery short-pitched stuff.

VRV to tailenders on Day three

 Balls Runs Won  Wickets
 Over-pitch 4 5 0
 Good-length 8 2 0
 Short-pitch 20 11 2

So if the West Indies' tail in the second innings resists for too long, VRV can take them to task. His pace can make all the difference, especially after he has tasted the blood.

Tremendous Kumble

It can be surprising that after such a lackluster show, Kumble can still emerge as the highest wicket-taker in India's bowling. It shows as much about the talent as the temperament of the great man that he took the bulk of the wickets (3 to be precise) even as he sent too many loose deliveries.

In fact, the West Indies Batsmen made full use of the short stuff delivered by the great leggie. They took him to task for any failure in line and length. If one sees the West Indies' scoring pattern off Kumble, then one observes that as many as 35 off their 80 runs came off just two areas -- cover and midwicket.

Kumble in West Indies 1st innings

(27.3 - 6 - 86 - 3)

 Areas  Runs Conceded
 Cover 18
 Mid-wicket 16
 Others 47
 Extras 5

Now this pitch is leaving no margin for error and Kumble could well turn out to be India's match winner provided he keeps it tight. Even a target of 250 will be quite handy on a wearing pitch on the final day.

Pace it right

The most important issue for India right now will be pacing the innings. A very slow third wicket partnership in the 1st innings between Dravid and Laxman had put India on the backfoot and taken the momentum away.

Interestingly, there was not much difference in the overs played by the two teams against their actual runs scored. India failed to realise that an ultra-defensive approach will always be counterproductive.

Innings Comparison of India & WI

(1st innings)

India score

West Indies score

 after 20 overs 69-2 116-1
 after 40 overs 108-3 182-3
 after 60 overs 213-7 251-4
 after 80 overs 30-0 122-2 310-6
 Final Scores 241 (92.5) 371 (98.3)

The pace so far has been reasonable and India have been circumspect as well as carefree at the same time. That's a good omen.

After getting into such a strong position, even if India do not win and draw the contest, it will sufficiently silence the critics. After all, everyone thought it was curtains after the second day with West Indies sitting pretty with a small, but comfortable lead.

The hosts' failure to consolidate, and resilience from the Indian top order may have changed all that. The Test may well have turned on its head.