Rahul Dravid: I was surprised to see Dravid open the innings. All long I have felt that he has never been comfortable at the opening slot. They asked him to do so inthe 1996, SA tour; he obliged since he was a newcomer. In 2001,he blatantly refused. I think he was right in doing so. If you are not mentally prepared, no amount of coaxing and motivation will help. They did not have much of a choice though. Ganguly as an opener would have meant asking for more controversies. Ganguly supporters would see this as the ultimate ploy to kick him out of the test-side if he failed. So that option was out. Yuvraj was out for sure, despite his knock and his shot display, when it comes to tests I would always prefer Kaif. So captain courageous went ahead, started well and failed again! He made amends in the second innings (not as an opener though!) but faced a tragic end.
Sachin held the innings together and made sure he got his long-awaited 35th century. After seeing Laxman’s knock I would be surprised if he did not go and kick himself hard for getting out at 69. He looked in exquisite touch since he had stepped onto the pitch. I can’t figure this guy out, he comes with out-of-the-world knocks against the best bowling attack in the world, and chooses to be mediocre or give up his wicket easily against the rest. Why Laxman why? You know this can be really frustrating!
Saurav Ganguly has secured his place in the third test with his 40 & 39. I was not impressed by his patience and hoped he would convert atleast one of the knocks into a decent half-century. Unfortunately the type of bowling he fancied in his peak days resulted in his downfall. Though, a couple of fours did show a glimpse of the Maharaja’s timing. All said and done, if he gets it right , his off-side strokes are a sight for sore eyes.
Dhoni is all power-play. Reminds me a lot of Bhima with his Gada. I’m dead sure Dhoni visualizes his bat as one. Whack, slam, bang! Simple philosophy, ‘See Ball, Whack Ball!’ (I like that) Played some super shots in the second innings and earned his place in the side.
Irfan Pathan: Should I not be mentioning him with the bowlers? I missed his innings:-( (I’m ruing that badly) But I believed he really killed Murali with his shots. 93 as a test-opener???? Well, if we should not yet term him as an all-rounder what should we term him as!
Please don’t go about saying we will see how he performs on those fast–tracks down under or those seaming conditions in England. For heaven’s sake he might not even open there, but what an option Dravid has if either of the openers is not around! If this effort is not credible, then what is? Hats Off! His attitude, his grit, his determination, his awesome talent; what a natural!
Ajit Agarkar: Wicketless in the first innings but provided some good breakthroughs in the second. Sangakarra being the much needed one.
Harbhajan Singh: Disappointed. On a pitch where Murali works wonders, Kumble fires up, he did not show any great figures. And I also agree with my husband who mentioned to me during the course of day 2, if Bhajji does not get a wicket fast, his confidence seems to plunge to depths and that is not a good sign if you want to be known as one of the best spinners in India.
Yuvraj Singh: Covered up well for his first innings failure. So now the question the team is posed with is; who should be dropped to accommodate Sehwag? Anyways, but a word about Yuvraj, I am trying to figure out how he is such a pathetic player of spin being an Indian batsman; it is supposed to be bread and butter for Indian batsman, Yuvraj what is wrong with you? He will make the SA batsman look like real pros against spinners! Ok, I’m exaggerating, but for heaven’s sake he makes me want to pull my hair apart when he dances all over the pitch and misses the deliveries.
Gautam Gambhir: The only failure of the match. Deserves another go and hope he pulls up his socks real tight in the next match.
Anil Kumble: I shall save the last word for him. I’m impressed by this fighter. Every time people have doubted his abilities (I too have been a part of it!), he has fought back. He has had his limitations as a spinner but his achievements have been on par with the world’s best. What a dependable bowler especially in Indian conditions.
One point though which has got me wondering. Husband raised it and I’m wondering too, who will be our main strike bowler on Indian soil once he calls it quits. I mean with Kumble there has always been the confidence that he will take a wicket or two every time he comes on to bowl , but who after him to inspire such confidence? Harbhajan has a long way to go.
And finally to sum it up, you do not lose 7 wickets in 45 runs on the morning of Day 2, on not so deadly Kotla track! Murali is a magician and our batsman fools! The bowlers deserve all the accolades for pegging back Sri Lanka to 230 without which it would have been a tough battle to win. The batsmen made amends by batting with restraint in the second innings, here too one bowler takes majority of the credit for showing others how to attack Murali.
In all, a good effort to win the test. Sachin must be doubly happy; more than his record breaking century I’m sure he relished the Indian win more. Congratulations to Captain Dravid, if I’m not mistaken it’s his first victory as a captain on the Indian soil.