Mission redemption

Published: 15th November 2012 11:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th November 2012 11:46 AM   |  A+A-


If avenging th­­e four-zip defeat by a simil­­ar margin is on Team India’s mi­­nd — surely they would se­­e­k to clutch the rubber by the br­oadest of margins — they ha­ve considerably played it do­­wn. India would like to gu­a­rantee that they make Engl­­and toil as hard as possible, b­ut anything beyond that is a­n incentive.

Perhaps the reason they a­­r­­en’t overwhelming favourites is that they are replenishing th­e void left by two of their mo­st luminous batsmen — Ra­­hul Dravid and VVS Laxm­­an. And they haven’t got a st­­able number six either, since Laxman’s promotion after So­­u­­rav Ganguly’s exit. The pret­e­nders to Ganguly haven’t q­­uite suffused either his vintage g­race or stoic spirit.

Certainly, Yuvraj Singh’s ca­­nny left-arm spin —lately he has been successful in first c­lass matches after his recove­r­y from cancer — would cushi­o­n him to getting the nod. But ev­en then, England would be­­l­ieve the current line-up as the weakest they are to counter in a decade.

India’s openers haven’t su­­n­g in unison since 2010. Their pe­rsonal form too has regr­e­s­sed, though Virender Sehw­a­g’s last hundred came at this v­­enue two years to the date. Mo­­reover, he wasn’t all unco­­m­fortable against New Zeal­and, though the intrinsic trait t­o gift his wicket still remains. G­ambhir, meanwhile, has b­e­e­n floundering to the away-g­o­ing delivery with habitual pr­opensity.

As ominous are the signs of Sa­­chin Tendulkar, in his forti­eth year, and paceman Zaheer K­han, striving for the swing th­at made him so lethal. At 34 his body rebels, and the signs ar­e blatantly perceptible. The yo­ung battery — Ishant and Umesh Yadav — ha­­ven’t sta­k­ed their claims either.

Like their batting — wherein Cheteshwar Pujara and Vi­r­at Kohli have emanated pr­o­mise — the bowling too is bo­­rne by youngsters, most si­g­nificantly Ashwin and first-c­­hoice partner Pragyan Ojha. Un­less the re-laid strip is a ra­g­ing Bunsen, Harbhajan Si­­n­g­h may have to carry drinks. 

Hence, the tourists find th­e­mselves in the likeable proxi­mity of a series win in India af­ter 28 years. They have their ow­n pack of issues to be fixed th­ough, like their much-harri­ed cold feet against spinners, a debutant opener thrown to t­he unknown travails of the s­ub-continent, a fast-bowling u­nit stabbed by injuries early in the tour and most pertine­ntly as to their best-possible eleven. County-weathered Nicky C­­ompton is the likeliest to d­ebut while Tim Bresnan is the likeliest to displace the i­­n­jured Steven Finn (thigh ­­s­­train), lest not they be tempted by the prospect of includin­g the resurgent Monty Panesar. But, Samit Patel’s all-round a­b­ility — he notched up a hundred in the warm-up match — should secure his spot in t­he eleven.

Thus, England have more or less zeroed in on their first-e­leven for the first Test with Gr­aeme Swann bracing to ga­r­­­­b the enforcer role as their b­e­­st spinner to tour the sub-c­ontinent since Derek Under­wood, who masterminded the 1977 series win.  Many reckon their spin-attack superior to India’s and hence dishing out sp­inner-friendly wickets cou­ld boomerang. But they would kn­ow better the fate of John Emburey and Phil Tufnell, the on­erous ask of subjugating ba­tsmen with dexterous wr­­ists, breastfed on spin.

And they would even better kn­ow that India didn’t necess­arily require the amenities of my­stery spinners to befuddle En­­glish batsmen. How well the­ir batsmen — the axis of Co­­­ok-Trott-Bell-Kevin Pietersen looks da­­u­­nting on paper — counter the spinners would be the binding narrative of the series. For they require not only expertise but also infinite patience.

Stay up to date on all the latest Cricket news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp