Friday, January 18, 2008

Here comes the fourth day

I did something last night I haven't done in a long time - pull an all-nighter. It wasn't for work, but for test cricket. The third day was a cracker, and its time to pull out those cliches about days where momentum and pendulums swing. India appeared to have given it away in the morning. 3, 13, 0. Thats what Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly made. And Sehwag had already gone early. But those fightbacks due to Pathan, Dhoni, Laxman and RP Singh pushed the lead on to 400, and amazingly, since it was Australia that was being set the target it still didn't feel like enough. I know it does not feel like enough for the Indian team. They'd have wanted to have been batting this morning, grinding the Aussies further into the ground, but instead, they had to scrap all day, a battle which would have inspired the Aussies considerably (I'm not sure though that the Clarke-Symonds interlude, or the RP Singh-Laxman partnership made them feel good). Still, here we are, and it'll be tense stuff all day.

For me, what stacks as being the crucial factors for an Indian win are simple:

1. India must not lose their heads when the Aussie attack happens, as it will. Please, no glaring, no ground-kicking, no hasty changing of field placings.

2. Ishant Sharma must chill out, and bowl on a length. Sehwag as an offspinner must not be forgotten. India will miss Harbhajan for this pitch has bounce, and he'd have been useful. But lets not forget Viru can give it a bit of a rip.

3. Obviously, the big three - Pathan, Singh and Kumble - need to keep performing the way they have done so far in this match.

4. India must not bleed easy singles all day. This is a surefire killer.

5. The umpires need to remember that Kumble bowls a lot of balls that go straight.

But by far and away, the first point above is the most important. Australia will attack, and India must not wilt. The chances will come their way if they aren't bowling tripe.

Time for another cliche: this is test cricket at its best.

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