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Monday, November 19, 2012

Cricket: India Beat England In Ahmedabad Test!


Cheteshwar Pujara
Billed as a Revenge Series the India-England 4-Match Cricket Test Series played in India started on the right note at least for an Indian television news channel who while breaking the news hoarsely cried that Ahmedabad Test becomes Revenge No.1 for Team India. The ‘patriotic’ reason being that England whitewashed India most humiliatingly in the 4-Match Cricket Test Series played in England in 2011. The so-called revenge drama basically gets reduced to the battle of the extremes between spin and pace—India having the spin quality providing turners at home and England having pace providing green tops at home. In fact, each team does not mind demanding ‘conditioned’ pitches at home whenever the opponent visits there. As the battle goes on no single team ever tries mastering both of the arts.

Alistair Cook
Each team is right in their battle, essentially. England knows India’s weakness against seam and swing, therefore demolishes them on green-top pitches. India knows England’s weakness against spin bowling, and therefore plans revenge on slow and cracking pitches. Right from the sixties when India prided in having four deadly and specialized spinners this has been the Test scenario. No effort has been made by any cricket board in providing uniform sporting pitches or making their respective players to learn to bowl both pace and spin well and learn to play both pace and spin dexterously. Surprisingly, no takers for the simple fact that this is just not right for the interests of the Test genre for which crowd support has already been dwindling.

Given this, India were rightfully expected to crush England in the first Test in Ahmedabad to ‘avenge’ and indeed England would have obliged by crashing to an innings defeat within four days but for some splendid resistance by England captain Alistair Cook (176) and wicket keeper Matt Prior (91). These two players showed that England players are capable of playing spin well if only the right approach is adopted. On the fourth day yesterday the duo remained unbeaten with the team’s second innings score at 340/5 leading by 10 runs and the possibility of a draw was becoming a reality. But on the last day today England lost all five wickets by lunch giving India just 77 run target to win. India eagerly notched it up in under 16 overs losing just the wicket of Sehwag (25) and Cheteshwar Pujara remaining unbeaten again with 41. Thus India beat England by 9 wickets in the first Test in Ahmedabad leading the series 1-0.  For India predictably spinners Ashwin and Ojha captured 15 wickets between them. For England predictably too the pacers cut a sorry figure. The Scorecard:

The biggest plus of the test for India was the sterling double century by Cheteshwar Pujara (206 not out in nearly two days of batting, 1st innings) whose classicist orthodoxy and perfect temperament has already earned the tag of the ‘new Wall’ for him with many cricket experts relishing similarities with the elegant VVS Laxman too. Virender Sehwag scoring a brilliant century after two years and the Indian opener duo coming good after a long time was also among other positives for Team India. Finally, Yuvraj Singh (74 in first innings) has completed this return to cricket successfully and has effectively silenced all of the skeptics including his captain about his fitness.

The second Test starts in Mumbai from 23rd November and with probably another cracker of a turning pitch here the predictability factor of ‘revenge’ seems obvious.

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