No shit Sherlock.
And so it has come to pass, that India are struggling for survival against a team that they were supposed to have crushed 3-0. Now, I don't suppose anyone in the team (or even the media) really believed that margin would be the correct one. Indian pitches aren't very result-friendly; the Indian bowling, all too often, goes on a holiday (as does the batting); and the New Zealanders, somehow, always manage to punch above their weight.
But at 296-1 on the first day, with Sehwag at 173*, one might have been pardoned for thinking that things were going according to plan. India would get 600, and win by an innings (or perhaps 300 runs if they had to bat again). All would be well. Instead, the first hint of what was to come was India's subsequent "slide" to 487, a sub-par score given their start (especially when one considers that it took a 69 by a No. 8 to get them there).
When the Kiwis batted, 27-2, and 137-4 might have been intimations of the match's supposed pre-written script. But a debutant centurion, and a prodigal son (one who must thank his stars that his country plays test cricket against India) had other ideas. When the New Zealand innings ended, Indian spectators were in the curious position of having been exposed to the third consecutive test on home soil this season that has followed the "dead-heat with high scores in the first innings" template.
Part of this template unfortunately includes a batting collapse by the team batting first. In the series against Australia, it had been the Aussies going in first. Now, it was India, and the collapse duly followed.
The template has been preserved to an uncanny degree: VVS Laxman is still there, heading into yet another fifth day and fourth innings, with the tail to keep him company. Harbhajan has the chance to make up for his undistinguished bowling with yet another scrappy performance with the bat. India will have to consume at least 45 overs tomorrow if they are to survive, and even that might not be enough, given that in McCullum, Taylor and Ryder, New Zealand have three dangerous batsmen, capable of stepping up the pace if needed for a victory chase.
No matter what happens tomorrow, this will have been a very good test. It will teach self-styled pundits some modesty (hopefully); calling draws too early is never a good idea, and neither is writing off a team. Well done New Zealand.
Labels: Ahmedabad test 2010, India, New Zealand, test cricket, VVS Laxman