Monday, March 13, 2006

Unexpected resolutions

I'll be honest. I did not expect India to win this match, and especially not in the way they did. I did not think the Indian cricket team would regain the advantage the way it did on the fourth day, by scraping out a small lead thanks to a feisty fightback by the lower order, and then striking quick blows to eviscerate England's second innings response. And then, I did not expect them to clean up the tail quickly, (and half-expected, just to make my conspiratorial take on things complete, that India would bat slowly till the rains came, thus putting in the final twist of the knife into expectant fans' hopes - memories of Melbourne 1985-86 take a long time to fade away). But India did all of that, and after what seems like an eternity, India siezed and then drove home the advantage in a test. I tend to think that the Indian cricket team wins when things go its way; that it wins by being a frontrunner in the race, not an outsider clawing its way back in. In this test, India manufactured a win out of very little: they restricted England in the first innings; they transcended their own wobbles in their own first innings; they continued to exert and sustain pressure on the English second innings; and finally, when chasing, they displayed the right mixture of aggression and caution. And underwriting all of this was that most fundamental of cricketing principles: bowlers win matches (one old-timer, one newcomer, did the trick for India).

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