One partnership and a decision
Despite massive margins, there are occasions when there is very little to separate the winners from the losers, writes Atul Sondhi.
Remember Australia in India in 2001. When that one partnership between Laxman and Dravid at Kolkata effectively took the series away from the world-beaters. The very team which walked with a swagger looked like a bunch of limping men after the loss!
In the Ashes 2005 when Kasprowitz failed to get his bat out of the way of Harmison bouncer, giving England a 2-run victory at Edgbaston. That effectively swung the momentum in England's favour. A 2-0 lead for Australia, with three matches to go, would have effectively ruled out any fight back from England.
If India have to look back at the tour in satisfaction, they will have to thank that tremendous partnership between Karthik and Dhoni in the first ODI, with one battling his demons and endeavouring to prove that his fighting knocks in South Africa were not a flash in the pan, and the other fighting fatigue and cramps.
Hand in gloves
That heroic unbeaten partnership, worth 107 for the sixth wicket at Dhaka on May 10, really swung the momentum, which easily could have gone Bangladesh way.
In fact, Karthik was involved in two other 100 partnerships, which effectively veered the tour honours towards India
Besides, there was an 85 run partnership with Tendulkar in the 1st innings at Dhaka, which gave Karthik his first test century, and virtually ended any Bangla hope.
A decision that BATfired
Then the second most critical decision in the match was the one to field first by Bangladesh. It boomeranged much the same way as India's decision to put Australia in, in the final of the 2003 World Cup.
Facing bowlers, little timid after the host's fight back in the first test, would have been considerably different from facing a hungry pack of wolves with a cushion of over 600 runs. It showed in the performance of Zaheer.
Khan, with just one wicket to show for 88 runs in the previous test, gave one run less and took six wickets more!
It will be surprising if the Bangladesh press does not continue to discuss the decision for the next few days, that led to one of their worst ever defeats.
It must be a very heartbreaking tour for Bangla fans. They lost the ODI series, which ideally they should have drawn. And then after a decent show in the first test, lost the second by a whopping margin. Losses as bad as losing their guiding hand, their coach.
For India, this tour must have been a boon. It was dubbed a meaningless voyage in testing weather conditions. The very fact the millions of households did not strongly protest the failure of Doordarshan, DTH platforms, and most of the cable operators to show the tests, compounds the dullness. Even 36th and 37th tons of Tendulkar and impending Indian charge to victory, failed to inspire the ''broadcast facilitators'' to cough up the necessary money.
But then, a win, from most difficult of situations — not in terms of opposition but the mindset and the weather — must have gladdened the Indian cricketing establishment no end. A good appetizer before some tough-to-digest course ahead in England, can do wonders to the morale.
Coach Shastri can rightfully bask in the glory of the triumph, skipper Dravid can feel relieved, and old pros Tendulkar and Ganguly unburdened. Robin Singh can heave a sigh of relief that the catches dropped did not prove to be too costly.
Zaheer, on the receiving end for most part of the tour, can feel happy that he has found his killer edge again, while Jaffer's prayers have certainly got him a new lease of life, and a ticket to England.
But a tour has to have some loser, even from the winning side.
Sehwag might still get a chance in offshore ODIs and prove his mettle, but it certainly looks like curtains for Harbhajan as of now. He is a great bowler capable of big comeback, but with Ramesh Powar emerging as consistency personified after four matches and 9 wickets, it looks unlikely that India will dump Powar for Harbhajan at least till England series is over.
The other losers were Yuvraj and Laxman. Yuvraj did not take his chances in ODIs which ruled him out of test-feast, while Laxman must have been looking wishfully at his willow, which sparkled only in practice sessions. He will only be hoping to make the runs in England, that he so badly missed in Bangladesh.