Concentrate on the cricket guys. It may be very easy to say that the wicket matters but then u have to play on the wicket provided. Cribbing about whether Australia and England would give us a turner leads us nowhere. Under Ganguly, we have slowly started the march upto the top .... I am not saying we have reached there because there is a far way to go but we are going there ... so forget meaningless issues and concentrate on making runs / taking wickets et all. We have Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, VVS and Sehwag who can play on all pitches (I am talking of capability here) and we crib about the wicket. Sheesh. Yeah, I agree that Australia won't ever give us a turner but we do get a match everytime in Sydney which is the nearest thing to a turner u would get over there. U don't see the Aussies cribbing about growing grass at Sydney.
Anyway, looks like the wicket won't be dead in Nagpur even if it doesn't really fly around ... and that is good for cricket. I believe India is good enough to eke out a victory irrespective of the grass or the lack of it on the pitch. I have to believe that else what is the fun in following cricket?
My last post gave my prediction of the Indian team for the Nagpur test and it had Patel opening. For memory sakes, this is what it was (remember - just a prediction I made in my last post) -
Whatever media reports I am reading leads me to believe that the only change that might happen from my predicted eleven is Chopra coming in for Kaif. My personal belief is that it will happen if the pitch looks to be lively on the day of the match else we will still go in with the eleven I wrote. There are sections of the media quoting that Yuveraj might still be persisted with as opener but that possibility is so terrible that let me not dwell on it. [Knowing the succes rate of my predictions, watch out for Yuvi opening ... heh heh]
Brett Lee has been included in the eleven for the Aussies and probably that is the strongest indication that the pitch will be helpful to the faster bowlers. For India it doesn't matter where bowling is concerned because whatever the case might be we will go into the match with 2 fast and 2 spin bowlers. For the Aussies who play with 3 + 1, it lends significance. Personally I am not too worried about Lee coz the faster they come, the faster they go as Lee has discovered in the past against India ... in fact, Lee has been the bowler who has bothered us the least. So lets hope that Lee plays.
I read Gavaskar's statement that Ganguly was concentrating too much on building on team and that is affecting his batting. I don't know what the reason is but something is definitely affecting his batting ... he never was a great test batsman but he was always a good test batsman ... but in the recent past (couple of years or so) he has really become a lottery ... yes, he hit a gritty 140 odd in the first test in Australia to help India out of the doldrums and set the tone for the rest of the series but with Ganguly this sort of thing has become more of an odd flash in the pan. Yes, he gets them now and then but not as regularly as a batsman should get at the international level. However, there also doesn't seem to be a solution coz when u talk about replacing Ganguly in the team, u are not just talking of replacing a batsman but a captain also. Getting a batsman in might be easier than getting a captain in. It is easy to talk of Dravid becoming captain or Laxman or even SRT but then we are tampering with something special that we have. With Ganguly, in my opinion, the safety factor is present that we are not really dealing with some essential component of the batting ... if he fires, that is ok ... if he doesn't fire, it is still ok coz the others are here. Might be a bit harsh but that is what I think sometimes.
Boy, the hype over SRT's return is amazing ... the media was always a bit insane where SRT was concerned but now they have gone completely cuckoo ... SRT will bat with a heavy bat ... SRT will bat with a lighter bat ... SRT will be rusty ... SRT has the class to ignore his rustiness and turn in a sterling performance ... blah blah blah. Every expert within shouting distance of a camera or microphone is telling us what SRT should do and shouldn't do. I myself don't know how SRT will do after such a long hiatus from cricket but one thing I know - if he fails, all the experts will be covering their asses by praising SRT even more - "U cannot expect a man to come back from such a serious injury and start scoring centuries .... he is a class act and will come back stronger ... blah blah blah". A part in me wants SRT to make runs and show that he is back successfully ... but the devil in me wants to hear Gavaskar, Kapil, Manjrejar et all make those excuses they are certain to make if he doesn't score. Cricket must have been so boring before when there was no media circus around the game, no? Heh heh!!!
India's problems are not really because SRT is not playing or that Patel is keeping worse than my grandmother etc etc etc ... they stem from the simple fact that our batsman are not scoring. Forget Ganguly ... I expect a decent score from him once in 10 games. However I expect a big score from Dravid about once in two games (if not more) and from Laxman about once in three games. Sehwag is back in form with a cracking century (yep, he did cream Warne just as I said he would ... I was disappointed actually that it wasn't more devastating than it was ... it is amazing how he cross bats Warne with impunity) and if Dravid and Laxman get amongst the runs, we are back in business coz our spinners are really on the spot with their bowling. Bhajji in the first and Kumble in the second and I have no worries about the bowling. My personal recommendation against the Aussies, Agarkar, will be there to take out Langer with a delivery pitching on off and coming in ... ;-) ... and it is Zaheer Khan's home town. So bowling is not really the worry here. Batting is.
Ganguly will probably spend the entire night wondering whether to play Patel as opener (though he seems to have emphatically said "no" to a media query) or kick out Kaif and play Chopra. Though I can't think about anyone else (coach / consultant) planning this, Ganguly also will be meddling with the idea of getting Yuveraj to open again. Chopra should win out (yes, even with Kaif's 60) in the end simply coz the pitch seems to require a decent opener even if he makes 40 in three hours ... and who knows he might just go on to make a big one. But I wouldn't like to be in Ganguly's shoes. Self inflicted pain in terms of not trying out other keepers before the series began and sidelining guys like Ramesh who could open with Sehwag. As they say, "u reap what u sow". Instead of having two possible openers for the second opener's slot in Ramesh and Chopra, we have one opener (Chopra) and one pretender (Yuveraj).
I was amused by two statements in the media - McGrath's statements about considering it a big compliment that SRT usually prefers to see him off than attack him AND SRT saying he would be playing his shots "as usual". In the ODI game, I would definitely put SRT as the winner in the personal battle (he has come down the pitch and smashed McGrath like a club bowler too many times) but where tests are concerned, McGrath is the undisputed winner in my book. My amusement arose from the fact that SRT coming back after serious injury might be coming back with a different mindset to the one he has had recently ... really, if he feels his fitness is not 100% etc, he might not favour the extra-defensive mode that has irritated many of his fans ... coz simply put, SRT likes to make big runs and his extra-defensive style takes a lot of time to make big runs. So he actually might come out with a mindset of keeping it short and sweet and making the maximum runs in the minimum amount of time so as to not stress himself further ... and short and sweet for SRT is not beyond a century in 130-140 balls with plenty of fours. I would love to see the media reports if this happens coz most of them will make this as the story of "How McGrath provoked Tendulkar to retaliate" and "Tendulkar answers McGrath with stroke filled century" and such like. Might be fun, actually ... I for one won't complain.
Finally a thanx to those who wishes me for my marriage (a couple of u also mailed ... very decent of u chaps) ... actually the bigger plan behind this marriage is to convert a complete non-cricket enthusiast to a shouting / screaming / swearing beer swilling cricket maniac by the next world cup. That will be my contribution to cricket.
Cheers guys .... and may the best team ... no, make that "May India win".