Damn, it rained
Sure, in my last post I had wished for rain that would force the match into a draw. I know it is like "cut the nose to spite the face" but still I so wanted the proceedings of Day 3 of the match to be spit upon by the countless Indian fans who dote on cricket.
There are many ways to look at the result of the match - The Indian batsmen (SRT, Ganguly) lost it, the dropped catches in the second innings lost it, the bowlers in the second innings lost it, not including Bhajji in the final eleven lost it, Akmal and Razzaq's batting lost it (for India). You can never convince anyone of one reason simply coz none of these reasons are such that they could not be overcome.
India batted very slowly but still a better bowling / catching effort on the 5th day would have won it for us. Bhajji might have made a difference but then he might not have. Face the facts; if Bhajji had played, Balaji wouldn't have ... it was a toss up between the two, so to now talk about Bhajji's inclusion is really not done. India went in with 4 good bowlers who could have done the job ... who did the job for 4 days. Including Bhajji would in no way have "ensured" a different end to the match.
My personal opinion on this will not change. The batsmen are to to blame simply because they gave it away when India was on top. On the final day, the bowlers couldn't get that required breakthrough but it wasn't coz they deliberately didn't try to get it ... they just weren't able to though they tried their best to. The fiasco on the third day was coz the batsmen deliberately tried to waste time for some terribly secret reason ... don't tell me India's batsmen scored at a rate of 2 for most of Day 3 coz of some special bowling by Pakistan coz I won't believe it ... if the batsmen give that as a reason, they r lying. If they attribute it to some game plan advocated by team management, then it is obvious the team management has no clue as to what the time of day is. I mean - Imagine the scene where Wright, Ganguly and Dravid are sitting in the pavillion and saying -
Wright (or Gangs or Dravid) - "Now that we r totally in front and smashing the Pakistanis out of existence, what should be our next step"?
Ganguly (or Wright or Dravid) - "I think we should score at the rate of 2 per over for the rest of the day so we don't get too far ahead. We should end the day without ensuring a sizeable lead for ourselves. It is true that we are totally in command right now. We should try to ensure the situation changes soon".
Dravid (or Wright or Gangs) - "Sounds like a good plan to me".
Wright (or Dravid or Gangs) - "Yeah, that is ok with me"
Gangs (or Wright or Dravid) - "Yeah, me too. Send out the word to Tendulkar that he should stop scoring at 4 per over and restrict himself to one or two per over, that too if he really thinks he should score".
So the word goes out to Tendulkar and he thinks - "Man, that is such an awesome plan. I don't understand some aspects of it but let me not question it. In the team's interest, let me stop scoring altogether".
Hence Day 3 happens according to the team management's plans.
Funny part is that I haven't really heard too much resentment being expressed over Day 3 in the national media. I wonder if it had not been SRT out in the middle of it all, how many former players (also known as experts) would have given their opinion on this stupidity ... many, I think. But with the world's greatest batsman out in the middle, which expert really wants to get sacked from his commentating / expert opinion job by calling for his head??? If anything like this happens, u can just imagine the Gavaskar types springing to SRT's defence, curling thier lips and commenting stuff like - "SRT has 34 test match centuries and around 10,000 test runs to his name. I wonder still why people continue to think they know better than him as to how he should bat. SRT is the best judge of his batting and I think he should just ignore these people and concentrate on playing his natural game". The same Gavaskar types won't really answer the relevant question about the batting on Day 3.
Anyways, Kamran Akmal got the man of the match and through my wounded pride, I couldn't help but applaud. Well done, boy.
News from Kolkatta, the venue of the second test is that the pitch is supposed to be grassy. One headline I read screamed "Ganguly wants green top for second test" and I was like "What ..... Ganguly wants grass???? Wasn't he the one who said some years back "Grass is for the cows"? Hmm, no, that was Michael Chang, I think". Anyway, when I read the article, it said that the curator at the ground had said that there was no word from the Indian captain about removing grass from the pitch. So naturally the headline became "Ganguly WANTS green top". LOL.
About the green top thing, I think the think tank's strategy might have changed in view of the bowling efforts of one Dinesh Kaneria. Simply put, he was the better spinner of those visible in the first test and has emerged as Pakistan's trump card in bowling. If not for anything else, India might prefer green on the wicket just to keep Kaneria at the disadvantage. Yes, it would also mean one of Bhajji and Kumble sitting out again but the Indian team of the recent past has tended towards the defensive, and if it is thinking more about how to negate Kaneria than how to enhance their own attack, I wouldn't be surprised. Seriously, Kaneria has bowled well but when we have cleaned out Warne, why should we worry about Kaneria? Again, when we cleaned out Warne, we had a Tendulkar who wasn't a master batsman just for name sakes; that is definitely a factor. Even Laxman, who can really make a bowler tear his hair out in frustration, time and again fell to Warne in the recent Australian series. The defensive mindset agsain, in my honest opinion.
That was my opinion on the green top theory given by the media but personally, I think India will play Bhajji in the second test, if not for anything else, just coz he has history at the ground to back him. I don't see any great game plans from the team management; history might just be the factor for deciding among Zaheer and Bhajji.
Anyway, away from cricket, the news channels focussed a lot on Bhajji's beauty parlour in Chandigarh. It catered to Pakistani fans free of cost for the duration of the test match and all news channels gave it a lot of coverage. Yeah well, if Tendulkar and Ganguly can have a restaurant, Bhajji can have a beauty parlour. Why not??? LOL.
I read about this PIL against Ganguly's captaincy ... some guy (it wasn't me, I swear) thought that Ganguly was doing a lousy job as captain and someone like Dravid would be better and so went to court and filed a PIL. The judge threw out the case. Really, some of these cricket fans r nuttier than a fruitcake.
Saw an item on the sports channel about Australia's Michael Bevan. The guy who was not too long back considered the best ODI player in the world has not been in the Australian team for some time now. He is also getting on in age which made many doubt if his playing days for Australia were over. The news item basically focussed on Bevan's good showing in the current domestics in Australia and echoed his feelings of playing for Australia in the next world cup. Interesting ... he is out of the ODI squuad but he still averages pretty high (haven't looked up but I think it is around 53 or so).
On tennis, Shikha Uberai (Vivek Oberoi's cousin and Indian - formerly US - tennis player) beat a player in the top 100 last week. She then lost to the world No. 41 in the second round. Really, Sania or Shikha might not win wimbledon but it is nice to see an Indian name among the biggies of international tennis. Incidentally, Shikha Uberai lost to Venus Williams in the US open last year.
Shakti Kapoor's casting couch expose by India TV on Sunday was really funny. Stupid guy took names like Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee, Subhash Ghai and Priety Zinta. He is so screwed, man ... he is so phucking screwed ... he can claim all he wants that he was set up - and no doubt he was - but taking these names makes him such a dead man. LOL LOL LOL.
Anyway, my head is aching like the blazes. I am over and out here.
Just a last addition ... was just surfing rediff and saw that the Eden Gardens officials are trying to do something about increasing the height of the sight screen since SRT was bothered about it at Mohali. While they are at it, they should ensure the spectators coming into the stadium shouldn't wear brightly shined shoes, shirts with bright colors or have red colored hair (for these cases, they could have a hair dye shop at the gates itself). It might impede Tendulkar in picking the ball.