India completed a good victory in 3.5 days, much to the relief of all fans, including myself. It was nice to see the determination of the Indian players after they were bowled out for 209 in the first innings. They seemed to have been jolted by that collapse and took it in the right way and I could see that they were determined to win this match after that.
If the Indian team, particularly the batsmen, play the way they did after their batting collapse, there are very few teams who can stand up to them, particularly in Indian conditions. It helped that all the bowlers chosen for this test did not have any baggage from the horrible England tour, except Ishant to an extent. For that reason alone, the selectors need to be given their due. It is not easy to erase the bowling slate completely and select a new-look attack for the very next test match after they got a hiding in the previous test they played. It takes guts and conviction to do that and I am glad the selectors did it this time.
It was great to see Ojha and Ashwin reap success from some very good bowling. Ojha, I have always said, did not do too much wrong when he got chances, but never got his due, mainly due to the presence of Harbhajan. At his best, Ojha is very miserly and builds pressure by bowling lots of dot balls and gets his wickets that way. Ashwin, on the other hand, gets his wickets with subtle variations and bowling wicket to wicket. So these two spinners complement each other very well and I hope they form a good partnership for India in the future. Due to the nature of their bowling, Ojha can be effective in the first innings itself, while Ashwin will be more lethal in the third and fourth innings of a test match. Like I said in my previous post, this WI series is their best chance to stake a serious claim for the near to mid-term future. If they can each pick up about 18-20 wickets in this series, it will make the selectors think seriously about taking them to Australia as well.
Sehwag played like he usually does, but gave it away in both innings. This is the way he usually plays, but somehow, I think once Sehwag plays more matches and spends more time in the middle, he will not give away his wicket when he gets set and will get the big scores that we have seen him do in tests. Sachin showed determination in the last innings and looked certain to take India to victory, until he got tempted by the prospect of the 100th century. Once he got that in his mind, you could see the way he changed his game and in my opinion, that caused his downfall. If he has continued in the cautious manner in which he played till he got to 40 or so, he would have definitely been there at the end, though he may not have got to the hundred. After all, he is also human, so I am ok that he fell while trying for that landmark. At least, he did not get out when there was still a possibility of defeat.
Laxman batted beautifully as usual and it was great to see him score runs effortlessly. Laxman is usually a nervous starter, and from the bowling side's perspective, it is imperative to not give him boundary balls for the first 20-25 balls that Laxman plays. This time, he got a nice leg-side delivery as his first one and happily put it away for four and that set him on his way.
Yadav bowled well in the second innings. In the first innings, he did what I had said he would do. He bowled outside off stump for most of the time and did not make the batsmen play enough. This is why I had said that Varun Aaron would be a better bet for the first test. But it was nice to see that he was ready to learn from his mistakes and correct them in the second innings. I hope the selectors give a chance to Aaron as well in this series just to see what he is made of and whether he is worthy of being taken to Australia.
I hope the track in Kolkata will have more pace and bounce in it. It will be good for the spinners and will also help our batsmen to score big. One of the things I want to see in the second test is our line-up getting a score of around 450-500. If India wins at Kolkata, I want to see Dhoni rested for the last test match and at least the first 2-3 ODIs, if not for the entire ODI series. Lets hope India put in a performance at Kolkata that suggests that they are back to their confident ways in test match cricket.
Lets hear it from you guys. What were the aspects you liked about the win in the first test and what aspects do you think we still need to improve ? The next test starts in just 4 days, so my next post will be after the second test match. Stay tuned.