Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Resurgent India deserved to win Test

There may have been a bit of a stutter at the end. The rest of the Test was one smooth flow for Team India. Not for a moment did Rahul Dravid and his boys look like the side that was saved by the elements when defeat looked inevitable in the opener at Lord's. The opening partnership between Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik in the first innings swung the game so much in the visitor's favour that it never gave England a chance in the match.

A handy first innings did the hosts in. As it happened at Lord's, it is difficult for a side to wriggle out of a tight corner once the momentum goes to the other side. With a lead of 283, all India needed was one good session with the ball on the fourth day to warp up the Test.

It was good toss to win for Dravid and his spearhead Zaheer Khan responded well. The conditions were loaded in favour of the bowlers but it must be said that it was intelligent bowling that helped to keep England to below 200. The best part of Zaheer's performance was his ability to keep a high percentage of his deliveries in the good length area. With the wicket helping the ball to seam, it was important for the bowlers to bowl in the right areas.

While Sreesanth seemed to get lost in his act of the comedic villain, the emergence of R.P. Singh as a strike force came as a breather. Rahul could ill afford two of his bowlers to be off the radar in the same game. R.P. Singh who is generally taken lightly can be deceptively sharp. His strong and straight wrist that helps the fingers to follow the seam all the way through in his action is his biggest ally. His high arm action helps him generate bounce and also to skid the ball off the surface when he bowls a fullish length.

Both Zaheer and Singh were tough to negotiate as they moved the ball either way. It is not easy for the batsmen when it moves both ways and it leads to doubts creeping in. The conditions were better for batting in the second innings as the wicket had eased out. It needed a strong will and self-belief in the bowlers. They succeeded with style and panache.

Anil Kumble played his usual role of mopping up the tail quickly and his contribution with the bat and his half-century association with V.V.S. Laxman were vital to the plot. It was a win where almost everyone played his part to perfection. What I enjoyed most was the ruthlessness of the Indians. They did not give a chance for England to come back in to the game.

The innings by Michael Vaughan was a class act. It did not get its due as the media trained its thoughts on the Indian win. Until the English skipper was in, there was a good chance of the game to end in a draw. To
India's credit, their shoulders did not droop while Paul Collingwood and Vaughan were making merry. A bit of luck was required on this shirtfront and it arrived in the form of Vaughan's wicket. Once that partnership was broken it was only a matter of time.

As I had said before, the team needed the top guns to click collectively. The top-order contributed handsomely. It was the sixth highest Test match total without a single hundred. Sourav Ganguly came up with a classy knock and proved his detractors, including yours truly, wrong. The seniors in the team whose very presence in the team was being questioned came to the party and the youngsters complemented their efforts well. It was a resurgent side that deserved every inch of this famous win.

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