Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Nice twist

I'm back, awake now. Its freezing outside in Brooklyn, but its nice and hot in Mumbai and the test is cooking nicely. I stumbled out, sleep-deprived, just in time to see the last two English wickets go down. I had experienced the shakes on seeing that a) India was trying the "give a single to the bat, bowl at the tailender" tactic, b) that Flintoff had already been missed by Dhoni (bringing back bad memories of Patel's missed stumpings in the bad old days) and c) Yuvraj put down Anderson (thus, would India just 'drop' this match?). Thankfully, all that has come to an end and India are now chasing 313. This has turned into an absolute cracker, closer than I had expected, and the twists and turns of what remains in this game will take some unraveling.

Interestingly, I think Pathan coming out to open (thanks to Sehwag's enforced absence) works out well for India. Whatever he does, he will not push or prod ultra-defensively (the worst possible strategy on this pitch against England's attack), might make some runs, could compensate for Sehwag's loss of form (and the pressure that has been caused all series long by the early loss of his wicket!) Perhaps when Sehwag comes in at the fall of the fifth wicket, India will be looking for a blast or two, and he could help then.

If India lose a wicket today, they will and truly be on the defensive. If they survive today, and enter the last day needing some 290 odd runs to win, they will be fools to not try for a win. Any other strategy is asking for trouble. And yes, the stage has been perfectly set for Tendulkar.

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