Mumbai Test, Day One.
England: 242 for 3
Rahul Dravid won the toss. He decided to bowl on what might be a typical Wankhede pitch. The ball tends to have a very good bounce. It was once the best wicket to play cricket. There is a little surprise that many great Indian cricketers have been successful in playing for the country. There was time in India’s cricket history when the Mumbai’s Ranji trophy team and India’s national side were almost same. Those days are now a part of history. There was a dismay among people, that why didn’t we bat? I mean the advantage of winning the toss can be lost to some good performances and vice versa. The English had a solid start, putting on a 50 for the first wicket. The Ian Bell got out for score in thirties. He will be thankful that for once he did not get out to spinners.
Then there was extended partnership that sent India hunting for wickets. They tried desperately and did not get success for three hours. The English batsmen in form of Owais Shah and Andrew Strauss have an unbroken partnership. Owais Shah retired hurt after making a rigid half-century.
Andrew Strauss is a very good batsman. He is scratchy against spinners. It was his day today. He did what most batsmen do against spinners. He waited for loose balls. He did not do anything out of the ordinary. He belted whatever short was offered to him. He compiled the first century on this tour and made a meat 128. The Indian bowlers looked in control and the scoring rate was kept below three for most of the day.
The English did not loose a single wicket in the second session. The pressure was mounting on India. The decision to take the field was looking stupid by the minute. Then tea came to Indians rescue. If anyone watches cricket keenly would have noticed that many times there is a fall of wicket around the tea break. Owais Shah retired hurt, bought Pietersen out to the crease. The things were getting bizarre by the minute and for once Harbhajan invited Strauss to drive. Strauss obliged Harbhajan by edging his delivery, which bounced a little. Dhoni obliged Strauss by holding onto the catch. Indians rejoiced a wicket at last. The English were two down for a score in the region of 230.
Then Pietersen walked into the ground. He is a very threatening batsman as he is very good stroke player. The only problem is he plays most things on front foot and tends to top edge often. He edged Sree Santh twice. I think he is a very unlucky bowler. He tends to get the edge but the fielding is sometimes not up to the mark. He got Pietersen to play three false strokes and got him caught Dhoni on the fourth time he managed to edge Sree Santh. The English were 240 for 3 approaching 250. There were no more wickets, which fell today. The English seem to be in control. The Indian bowlers did not take many wickets but for runs. The English will be looking for some big score and try to put Indian under some pressure. The Indian would want to restrict England to below 350.
The crowd at Wankhede was amazing. It was as vociferous as any you would have hoped. There was a positive move in going with three seamers. There a few things which could have tried. There are three men Tendulkar, Sehwag and Yuvraj who can bowl but did not seem to get into David’s imagination. They tend to get you a wicket. I think they must be used often. The match is marginally with the English but a flurry of wickets may give India a driver’s seat.
From the bizarre to the ridicule.
It was just a week back when the cricket world enjoyed the greatest game. The weak performance of the same team made a week look like a fortnight. This game is such a leveller. The only thing great in this match for Graeme Smith was winning the toss. Imran Khan says it correct when he say the top batsmen should be on the forefront. The top order lacks flexibility that is required to wane Aussies down. Jacques Rudolph should be coming one down. Kallis has to stick around rather than forcing the issue. Gibbs has been such a good opener. I think Graeme Smith himself needs to make some runs in this form of the game.
South Africa batted on a green top and managed a score of 205 before the first day ended. The Aussie stuck in with 308. Thereby taking a massive hundred runs lead. The South African reply was again a meek one. The Aussies were set a score of 95 to chase with over seven sessions remaining. The Aussie romped in with 7 wickets. It was downhill from then. The things would have been different if the could have done some repair work. It was not to be first Lee then Clark kept on taking wickets. Warne can turn hi spinners anywhere. South Africa should shuffle their batting order a little. I think we should back Nel to peg away Aussie wicket.
It was a sorry state of affairs for South Africa. The Aussie can make a comeback from any stage of a match. This is the reason they are the champs. I hope the next test will last for a five days.