Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Team India, stay positive and the series is yours

It is imperative for Team India to keep the momentum going. A closer look at history reveals that India almost immediately hand over the advantage after taking the lead in an away Test series. The latest example was the tour to South Africa where the cricket became suddenly unimaginative after the win in Johannesburg.

The focus should be on continuing the good work. A win can make a team to take it a bit easy, and Rahul Dravid and his men would do well to continue with the positive ways and not get caught in a negative mindset. Sourav Ganguly proved his detractors wrong and there should be no doubt that the visitors will play the same team in the final Test.

Runs are available aplenty at the Oval. The first morning might have something in it for the bowlers but from day two it should become a perfect batting strip. It would take a gutsy captain to bat first on this wicket. Batting second would be a safer option and batting last at the Oval is not a tedious job. I would expect Dravid to take field if he is to win the toss. With the lead already in hand India has a good chance of batting England out of the series.

The form of V.V.S. Laxman and Sourav has provided the cutting edge. It is always important for the middle order to fire at the Old Blighty. Once the second new ball is on life can be difficult even for the batsman who is well settled. Chris Tremelet with his bounce and lift proved what he is capable of and the Indian's should have chalked out a plan for him by now.

The difference between victory and defeat even for the mighty Aussies hinged on Adam Gilchrist's success at seven in the last two tours. In 2001 he had the English bowling at his mercy but in 2005 he was not half his own self and that tilted the balance in the hosts favour. It is important for Dhoni to contribute with Sourav and Laxman. One bad session and things can turn upside down.

The bowling department looked no good on paper but it has exceeded expectations. Zaheer Khan has taken the burden of spearheading the attack brilliantly. Add Sreesanth's inability to deliver Zaheer's work stands taller. The success of Zaheer has a lot to do with the attention he has started to pay at what is happening at the other end. He has learnt to deal differently with each batsman.

Bowling is two-way traffic. There will phases in a match where a bowler will have to get to run-control mode but that is not getting defensive it is just a part of a ploy to get to the batsmen. Zaheer has done just that and add Anil Kumble's ability to mop the tail quickly the duo has more than made up for the lack of consistency on Sreesanth's part.

R.P. Singh has been the surprise element. His deceptive pace and his strong wrist is tailor made for English conditions and his ability to move the ball both ways has left even the best a confused lot. With the top three performing brilliantly, the only change that could possibly happen is R. Bose coming in place

The visitors should approach the game as they would to any other. It has happened in the past, the team has tried defensive ploys when they are trying to defend a hard earned lead. It has cost them dear and this resurgent side that has shown great mental fortitude and losing the grip after gaining the lead could be a thing of the past.

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