Skip to main content

Breaking the rules

As is evident from excellent articles written here, here, here and here, the 4th of January 2011 was a glorious day for cricket. Truly, the words 'test match' were dissected cleanly and explained with a fierce clarity that should leave no one in doubt - this is the sport of cricket distilled to its finest base elements. However, that day has passed and I will not attempt to add descriptions or superlatives to it. Instead, I wonder about today and tomorrow, the 4th and 5th days of what could be a test for all time.

If India are to have any chance of winning, they have to bowl out the South Africans for less than 200 runs. At the most, 220 - 230. With the SA bowling attack... actually who am I kidding; with Steyn bowling as he is, we cannot chase any more than that. If, by some chance, in the 2nd innings, he repeats or betters (yes, you heard it here first) those two spells from yesterday, we are finished. I believe this completely and utterly. Yes, we have a great batting line-up. It is quite likely one of the few line-ups in world cricket that has the technical competence to stand a remote chance against the SA attack on this pitch at this stage of the game. But GG is pugnacious rather than supremely accomplished, CP has youth and reflexes on his side but no experience and our holy triumvirate must be, for every magical moment they've ever given us, tired.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter - IF we are to stand a chance, I argue that VS cannot play his 'natural game'. I know, I know. He is a game changer. When it comes together, his batting is a joy to behold. To play any other way would be akin to asking a hurricane to be gentle. I accept all of these ideas. I can even see the half-exasperated, half-resigned shake of the head and the wry smile when my idea is voiced.

I'm also getting exhausted hearing these ideas trumpeted every god-damn time he fails. I don't know if his successes are becoming excuses for his failures, but I'm sure that is not how it is supposed to rationalise either. 

He is an opener. Never mind what he is expected to do, what he isn't expected to do is treat the role as if he were the chief guest at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the innings. I'm not asking him to become Chanderpaul (heaven forbid) and grind the opposition into dust. Still, this is his last test outing in SA on this tour and no one can know what the future holds.

So here is what I'm hoping for - he bats, he gives bad deliveries what they deserve and, it being Sehwag, even the good ones get thrashed. But he must recognise that Steyn and the rest are bowling extremely well and that he cannot dominate them from the start. If he sees out the initial bowling partnership, this could be India's game.

Great batsmen like SRT, RD and VVS adapt to the conditions and the situation. VS changes them. In his case though, true greatness would lie in adopting the ways of his senior colleagues just this once. On the strength of their records, it would be no shame.

Its not just a game any more.

Song for the moment: Ecstacy of Gold - Ennio Morricone 

Comments

k said…
For now, India needs to work on the thorn called Kallis! Nice analysis, let us see how it unfolds tomorrow. :)

Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Last of my kind

(This post hasn't come out as well as I wanted. But I'm still pissed off, so.)

Why do we have heroes? What is it about someone that triggers a decision to nail our colours to their mast? I don't have a neat answer so what you read from here on is both an explanation and an exploration. In a post-modern world driven by counter-points, certainty is a luxury.

I missed the boat when it came to India's ODI cricket madness. We moved abroad in the late 80s. When I left, my friends and I wanted to be Kapil, Kris or Sunil. When I returned, god was getting comfortable on his heavenly couch and all was right with a world I did not recognise. I had missed Sachin's opening batsman debut against New Zealand, the hullabaloo of the Hero Cup and other notable moments. So, I was interested in cricket, not any particular sportsman. Not even during the '96 World Cup. When India muffed it against Sri Lanka, I hurt for the team, not for a player.

Then came Dravid. And, personally, …

Let her go

Have you noticed how we throw things out a lot more than before? Of course, city-dwellers like us have more, now that disposable incomes are the norm. Does it also allow us to dispose of things so easily? I was the object of much mirth/ridicule at work today because I wanted to get a golf umbrella repaired. One colleague wondered if it was worth the effort, another asked why I did not just buy a different one while others chuckled when they realised neither of these thoughts had occurred to me. I trudged off, wondering if they were right. What exactly was driving me to take the trouble?

I think back to to the 80s and living in my Thatha's (grandpa) house. Today's 'use-and-throw' culture would have shocked him to the core. The man was the epitome of prudence. Since we weren't exactly floating in doubloons, the family followed suit. Thatha wore the same watch for over 50 years. A small umbrella, bought by my mother with her first salary, was well on its way to becom…