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Pujara Dazzles, Swann Stands Alone, Hosts At the Driver’s Seat

November 16, 2012

Team India are back home and back in the business straightaway. Mahendra Singh Dhoni had quite a few tough phases of his captaincy career, but the one which has hurt him the most is the last tour against England where his team disappeared from the place of the number one ranked test team and they never came back.  But here in India the things are far far different starting from the conditions to nature of wickets. And there has not been any surprise as we have found yet another flat surface having no assist whatsoever for the pacers. It has been very clear that in the last tour the toughest challenge for the Indians was to face the tall fast bowlers of England with ball moving around, the wicket being green and seems to do something for the pacers every time. Once the pace battery of England goes off you can see what happens, and that’s exactly how the things have gone so far in the first couple of days of the opening test of the 4 match series – India clearly dominating all the six sessions and are in the driver’s seat already.

Although these are the very early days of the series one player each from both of the teams have announced themselves strongly. Yes, there is no doubt that India are in a position from where England must be thinking that a draw would be a fair result for  them, but the positive side from the performance of England so far is the one from Graeme Swann with his 5 wicket haul. He is of course the one who likes to get going right from the very beginning of every tournament. 

  • If you have to pick one of the most dangerous off spinners of current days many would pick Swann. In the past we have seen the class of Murali and Warne, but interestingly enough they have not been that much successful against India, specially in India. But Swann has already shown why he is one of the very best among today’s spinners.
  • The one who has been born and brought up in the typical England conditions where you don’t have too much assist for spinners one got to be very accurate with his line and length which Swann is. He is the one who may not have that many variations like Ashwin has, still he has two or three weapons in his bag to trouble any batsman under any condition.
  • He balls with a tremendous precision. One can see his pitch map and he will find more than 90% of his balls in the good length areas. Does not give away too many short balls, does not stray down the leg side. He bowls a slightly wider sometimes and relies on flight, which has actually earned him many wickets under difficult surfaces.
  • He has a tendency to deceive the batsmen by his length. Batsman at times tend to guess the length of his balls just by seeing the trajectory, rather than the length. The trajectory is much flatter, whereas the length is not that short to be cut. So it is not at all easy to cut him as it looks. If you stay back in your crease such a misjudgment can cause and outside edge; or if you try to charge down the wicket and not able to manage the length something can happen like what has happened to Virat Kohli in this innings because he turns the ball sharply and is so good to find the gap between the bat and pad of the batsman – a true off-spinner’s delight.

But the performer of the match so far has clearly been the youngster batting at number 3 for India, the youngest Indian double centurion after this innings – Cheteshwar Pujara. He is the one who is already seems like of being ready to take the responsibility step into the heavy shoes of Rahul Dravid.  It has been a wonderful comeback story for Pujara as after a very decent test debut faced serious injuries and had to wait to make a comeback to the test team. Having undergone two knee surgeries it is never easy to hit back that strong.

  • Yes, it is very early days to compare a player who is just into his sixth test match and say he will be the successor of someone like Rahul Dravid, but the kind of a technique he has shown as a typical number three batsman in this age, has really been phenomenal. He had been there in the crease for more than eight hours, but hardly seems to have put a foot wrong. He has not given the English bowlers even a half-chance of dismissing him.
  • He promises to play big innings. The other day we saw it against New Zealand when he got his maiden test century and converted it to a score of 159. The stats say a lot about him. He has already scored 4 triple hundreds in his first class career, and to do this in this age is once again something that many won’t ever think about. Tendulkar used to do that, and now Pujara has just begun to replicate his first class or junior level performances in his international career as well, which is a great sign for him as well as for his team.
  • One who can play that long innings tells about his patience too. He is very calm, cool and composed every time. Even when he is not able to get the balls away, on 98 for a long long time, he has not shown any sort of hurry for getting onto such a landmark. He just bats on and on and just does not tend to show anything in his face. You don’t find too much from his face about what is going through his mind as the expressions does not change too much, which is also a good side.
  • He is very much like old fashioned crickets. In his double ton he has hit more than 20 boundaries  but  has not hit a six. Quite happy to play the ball along the ground and rely on timing and placement scoring all round the ground, which is a rare sight for any modern day cricketer. He waits for the lose delivery and does not miss many of those as here he has not miss a single ball that had been short and was there to be put away.
  • Another class fact of this innings was how he paced it. Watchful initially, then got himself in, then started playing shots, once was scoring at a strike rate of nearly 80 and calmed down whenever situation told him to do so. Altogether he has been a very different customer by character from the others. It is fantastic to see a young kid having that much hunger for runs.

Both of them have already made their marks, and one can see what can come, so can Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha. They may have been itching their fingers to bowl in this track which has already started to turn from the final session of day two. English players seems to tumble in front of Indian spinners already as they are 3 down for 41. From here they not only have to buy out time, but also have to score runs to climb the mountain of 521 set by India. Watch out for tomorrow morning – England lose their overnight batsmen and a wicket more in the first session and they are down and out. If they even get away, how they have batted so far still it would be a very very hard work in a pitch like this to protect their wickets.

One Comment
  1. arindam permalink


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