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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

India play the joker!

Don't get put off, I mean it in the best possible manner. With a weak hand, India had to pull out the joker. The joker being Sehwag, the all powerful card that is hoped to prevent their steep fall from grace and delay the loss of the test crown. Much has been written and cyberspace is full of expectations from him like never before. If he pulls off a stunning knock in the first innings, he truly deserves the invisible cape his fans swear he wears.

The series I'm afraid does look like going in one direction only. Every injury news on the Indian side has elicited snide comments about the IPL, which is a bit unfair, in my view. That these injuries have upset the team balance and weakened the already weak Indian bowling attack is the story of the series so far. Unless Sehwag can turn his arm over and get a few, which I am guessing he is not yet ready for, I fear the challenge of 20 England wickets will remain unconquered.

In both, the Lords and the Trent Bridge tests, England averted risky situations with the bat, to come back and dominate the games. The second innings burst at Lords by Ishant was negated by a superb display of counter attack with the bat by Prior. This was the match defining knock which then allowed England to win the game easily on day five. At Trent Bridge, when the England first innings looked like wrapping up for very few, Broad and Swann counter attacked brutally, to take control of the game thereafter. These two critical sessions were won by England, exposing the inability of the Indian bowling to go for the kill. It was also notable that during both these sessions runs came at a fair clip, and the bowling could not stem the flow, never mind pick the wickets.

The lucky break that Bopara is likely to get tomorrow, in place of the injured Trott, opens his contest with Morgan once again. On a relatively slow Edgbaston deck, that's not good news for India. Also worth noting that Edgbaston is a happy hunting ground for KP, who must be suffering withdrawal symptoms since his double century at Lords. Cook and Strauss have been out of the runs, and Bell batted like a dream at Trent Bridge. In gist, the task for India bowling is cut out. And when they have sorted this lot, they have Prior, Broad, Bresnan and Swann to worry about.

The real issue with team selection that the Indian think tank face is not Raina or Kohli. In my view, both are suspect against quick seam and bounce. The issue is can they afford not to play five bowlers? It is a risk, but for a team with no genuine all rounders, balance is always going to be tough. With a relatively slower brown track, as is expected, India maybe well advised to go with both spinners, Mishra and Ojha, alongside three seamers. I'd pick the left arm seamer, RP, to combine with Ishant and Sreesanth. Yes, I know Praveen has picked a few wickets and bowled long spells, but I can not see him as a real threat against the England batting line up, especially when wickets are needed to push home an advantage. Harsh, but true.

The riots in London and other cities have been a big worry since the weekend, but let's hope everything will calm down tonight, and cricket will captivate all our attention tomorrow morning.

Keep watching and keep reading!

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