Sunday, March 05, 2006

India vs. England: T1D5

Highlights from Day 5:

  • Javagal Srinath -- perhaps the highlight of the entire match for me was Srinath's confident pronouncement of a Monty Panesar no-ball. He requested the replay, and triumphantly pointed out that what we were watching was a massively illegal delivery, Panesar's toe being over the line, and the remainder of his foot behind it, but in the air. Now this is exactly the sort of thing we want our commentators to educate us about. Except for the fact that he was completely and utterly wrong. It turns out that a man who has played 67 Test Matches and 229 ODIS, has absolutely no idea what constitutes a no-ball. For the record, Javvy (with apologies to Nass), some part of your front foot, whether grounded OR RAISED, needs to be behind the crease. Better luck next time.
  • Wasim Jaffer -- here to stay, as simple as that. At least until the South Africa tour in December.
  • Virender Sehwag -- okay, so his second innings failure was no surprise to anybody, but England seem to have a good idea of how to bowl to him, and this may turn out to be the toughest series of his career to date.
  • The Pitch -- quite simply, it did not crumble. Perhaps this will go some way towards dispelling the myth that all Indian pitches crumble by tea on Day 2.
  • The Onslaught -- much ado about nothing, in my book - to the extent that there really wasn't ever any possibility of India pulling off the win. However, I think it was a tactically brilliant move to go on the attack. What it achieved was to make England really worry for the first time in the game, and that was evident in some of the body language on the field. Unsettling a first-time captain is a great strategy, and I wouldn't be surprised if next time England have a chance to declare, they end up delaying it a little too much with this effort back of mind.

So where do the teams go from here? The first innings of the match will be crucial at Mohali. Historically a high-scoring draw ground, there is always something in it for the pacemen early on.

England may well bring in Liam Plunkett to replace Ian Blackwell, who was spectacularly ineffective at Nagpur. Matthew Hoggard is clearly at the top of his game, and Steven Harmison can only get better. India will not have it easy against 4 seamers, with Monty Panesar having shown that he can be a deadly option.

India probably have no idea what they will do. Unsurprisingly, VRV Singh is out of the squad, and Munaf Patel back in - we'll refrain from commenting on the selection process there. Yuvraj Singh is back, and unfair as it is, he really has to come in to replace Mohammad Kaif. VVS Laxman has done well enough in recent series to warrant his place in the side. I doubt we'll see 5 bowlers picked, simply because it would be harsh on the two batsmen to miss out, and because India will need 6 batsmen if the pitch has anything to offer.

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