Third day - Preview
The possibilities of the team falling short of the follow on target are very high ... u don't need to be a genius to figure that one out. However, with players like Patel and Pathan around, not to mention Bhajji who could come in and swat a quick 30 or 40 (or he could also make 0 which is more likely), there is just a teeny weeny possibility of making the follow on target.
In either case, Gilly will have butterflies in his stomach ... his predecessor, the Ice man, Steve Waugh put the Indians in again at Calcutta in 2001 and we all know what happened. The same Laxman and Dravid are still there, as well as Harbhajan and Kumble to take on the Aussies in the fourth innings. Lets not kid ourselves here; India are in a bad situation but if they manage to set even a target of 200 in the fourth innings, and bowl with Kumble and Bhajji on the 5th day, Australia could struggle. I think Gilly will be hoping in his heart (if not in mind) that by a miracle India does reach the follow on target so that the decision is taken out of his hands.
About yesterday, again what I talk is limited to what I saw through the ball by ball commentary on cricket.org and by reading news reports and by watching news clippings on all the news channels (and there are many ... Zee, Headlines Today, Star, NDTV, DD news etc).
Akash Chopra's dismissal really was an error of judgement; it is questionable whether the ball would have hit the stumps or gone over it (and even an element of doubt if it hit hit just a fraction outside off stump), but when a batsman allows the ball to hit his pads while holding his bat high in the air, 9 times out of 10, the umpire is gonna give him out.
Dravid's only weakness is at the beginning of the innings ... even then the weakness is almost negligible but McGrath was good enough to exploit it. Dravid getting bowled between bat and pad is not a common thing and he will be more chargined than anything else.
Ganguly got an unplayable ... ok, so maybe a better batsman could have played it safely but in tests, Ganguly is not among the best ... the ball was too good for him, pitching on a good spot and angling away and he really had no option but to play at it ... he got an edge.
Yuveraj's case is different ... a widish ball which could have been left alone and in an ODI, one could have hoped for a wide from a liberal minded umpire ... and he swished at it and got an edge.
Sehwag never learns. His shots on the on side when the ball is not a direct half volley always go in the air ... I have noticed it at least for the past two years ... same thing happened here ... he flicked a ball straight to the fielder (who admittedly had to move fast to take it) whereas either side of the fielder would have got him a four. Ok, so his placement wasn't great and this happens when a player is just coming out of a slump ... but his shot going in the air is something that has been happening even when he was in form ... just when u r in form, these shots go away from the fielders and when u r not in form, they go straight to the fielder. Sehwag is sometimes called Tendulkar's clone. He should learn from SRT coz when SRT plays these kind of shots, either the ball hugs the ground or stays in the air for the minimal amount of time. And whatever my opinions of SRT, I don't think he would let any technical deficiency (and I would call it one) last for 2 years.
Laxman's dismissal was a ripper from Warne ... pitched just on leg and spun so sharply that it just beat the bat face as Laxman tried to defend it on the leg side ... and took out off. It wasn't as good as the Mike Gatting "ball of the century" but this was no ordinary ball. One thing we can thus be happy about is that both our top batsman (against Australia these are the two I will always bet on) Laxman and Dravid got done in by good balls from champion bowlers. It would have been sad if they had gone like Sehwag ... what a waste that one was.
So a good day expected today ... personally, I don't think India have 100% lost the match though I would certainly give Australia a 75% chance of winning. The rest 25% is not for India "winning" but "not losing". Last tour of India, I was at home when Dravid and Laxman started the fresh day trying to save the follow on. I was ready and dressed for office and just waited for the first wicket to fall before I left home ... after some time, I took off my shoes and settled myself more comfortably coz it looked like it would take an over or two for the wicket to fall. During lunch time, I changed out of my office clothes and plonked myself back in front of the TV ... evening time at the close of play, Laxman was still playing. So on a working day, I watched the entire match LIVE on TV ... still one of my fondest memories. It might not happen ever again, but hey, it might.
I am wondering that if the Aussies do put the Indians in, what their strategy should be ... defending is out of the question coz the Aussies are not that dumb. They will get them out eventually and the question would only be when. Players like Laxman, Sehwag, Ganguly and Yuveraj couldn't defend to save their lives .... but they could attack tremendously. All of them, including Dravid (when he decides to) have a great capacity to launch a counter attack. I think the only way to save the day might be to do that. Three days (including today) left and the only way to survive is to kill the enemy.
The key here will be scoring runs. See, once we save the follow on and don't have to bat again, Australia is not 100% in control. We can decide on our strategy according to needs and the situation. However, if we do bat again, the only way is "maro ya maaro". I personally would bring Laxman at 3 just to put some fear into the Australian minds; they know what happened last time when Laxman came at 3 during a follow on. I might even bring Yuveraj up for opening and ask the openers to bring down the lead as fast as possible ... as long as we are even 20 runs behind, the pressure is on us ... the moment we go even 20 runs ahead, the pressure will be on Australia coz they know they will have to make these runs on a 5th day pitch. Not an enviable task, they know and we know.
Anyway, it is 170 for 6 right now and I am signing off for now. Hoping for a miracle here.