Offline activities are simply not giving me enough time to blog! But I’m a strong believer in better late than never and so we go to the current series being played. In the quest for World Cup 2007, I think we are forgetting the real essence of the game, the lifeline, the highest form of the game. The real test of a cricketer, players would kill for to play atleast once in their lifetime on the international scene. Test Cricket!

In the last five years we were not a strong force in the ODIs but those losses never hurt( the final at WC 2003 did, but that’s an exception!) as were building ourselves into a potent force in test cricket. Right from 2001 we played some super games in all parts of the world and earned victories across continents, though a series victory outside the subcontinent remains elusive (I do not consider the one against Zimbabwe recently anything to brag about!) So why this sudden loss of form in test arena? The loss at Karachi was heartbreaking because we did not even have the patience to pull off a draw! And Nagpur seemed no different!

How do you allow a team that steps in demoralized, to climb upto 393 after having 7 wickets for 240 odd? How do you manage to get yourself in a position of 190/6 against a team without their best bowler in Indian conditions? Only the India team has answers to these! And who were you trying to fool when you go for a non-existent win at the end of day’s play when all day you were clearly playing for a draw! Although the dash at the end was good to lift the spirits and to scare away the Poms (I cannot believe Flintoff actually got scared by India’s late charge and decided to play safe. Half the team was on the boundary!!! Oh for heavens’ sake it’s not an ODI where 8 an over is a very manageable target! There is difference!)

Though I did not see the match in its entirety, one person who needs to do some serious thinking is Harbhajan Singh. His performance in the last few series is dismal and unless he starts getting wickets I don’t see him keeping his place in the side for long, what with Piyuh Chawla following him on close heels. The little I saw of that lad in the U-19 World Cup Final I feel he will give these blokes a serious run for their money. The guy can tease, and deceive the batsmen with his turn and flight!

England won the battle in Nagpur 3 out of 5 days with India taking the honors on day 1 and day 5. When I saw the target of 368 in 90 overs it seemed so tempting; but there was a very slim chance that India would go for a win from the word go. However they did think of it later but then it should have come an hour earlier (Dravid candidly admitted that) and definitely not at the expense of sending Sachin Tendulkar at no. 6! Did anyone see the shots he played in his 28! The guy was on a roll and I hope he captialises on this form at Mohali and Mumbai. A century in his home ground is long overdue! He got one here way back in 1997 Vs SL and came tantalizingly close Vs SA in 2000. I’m praying he gets one and praying even hard that I get to see it live!

As I end this, something unexpected has happened or was it waiting in the wings for sometime now. VVS Laxman hasn’t been in great form with bat or in the field and this did come as a bit of a shock! In the larger interests of the team the move looks worthwhile, but I’m not too sure of roping Yuvraj in immediately and not giving him time to adjust after his injury! Kaif will rue his luck but he must realise he was never the first choice and to become that, he needs more 3 figure scores on the test arena when presented with the opportunity! He blew away one in Nagpur. And yes can anyone please dare to hang a sword on Sehwag’s head now? Why do I get the feeling he is taking his place for granted! That attitude will help none and as a senior player now he needs to show some amount of patience and steadiness in his approach!
Let’s see how the 5 bowler strategy works out, having Dhoni in the team sure gives Rahul Dravid that extra option and it seems a good move to go ahead with the 5 –bowler option when the situation seems right.

England might have it to their liking at Mohali but definitely not at Wankhede. Although I’m praying hard they do not prepare a minefield of a pitch as they did the last time around! For heaven’s sake the last time a game of test cricket last a full 5 days was way back in 1994 against the WI. Sanjay Manjrekar and Sachin Tendulkar had demonstrated the art of batting on wickets that did not suit the batsman at all! If you were getting cricket coaching your coach would have definitely taken you to show those innings live! I was there and the two were among the best knocks I have witnessed at the ground for their sheer technique, patience and brilliance! I’m hoping we get better this time around, Mumbai has been starved for a long time now!