Sunday, December 02, 2007

A lifeline as usual

The Indian team doesn't have a hard time getting into situations like the one they find themselves in at the end of the third day's play at Kolkata: find a docile pitch, make lots of runs, put the opposition under some pressure, and then fail to sustain the pressure. They do have a hard time getting out of situations like this, for that requires a great deal of sustained aggression, often against an opponent that, having sensed a lifeline, is reluctant to let go. India will need to take four wickets quickly, then, they need to make the smart decision to not bowl again (if they do manage to take a lead over 200) and score some runs quickly before putting Pakistan back in again. But now Pakistan can escape in three different ways: they can hang on for dear life today (and Misbah certainly has something to say about that), they can slow down India's second innings (and historically, India do not do well when trying to score quickly to put the opposition back in again), and lastly, they can simply try and bat out 90 overs on the last day even if they are put back in. I think this will be a good test of Kumble's captaincy, for limited though he is by his team, it'll be interesting to see if he can put some fire into their step over the next couple of days. Pakistan, meanwhile, will be dreaming about Great Escapes, and the kind of skullduggery that enabled them to draw the test series the last time they toured India. Kumble will be happy that a wicket fell late last night; he'll be even happier if the remaining four fall within the first 90 minutes or so on the fourth day.

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