Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Lost Opportunity

For the first four days, the first Test between India and Pakistan at Mohali followed the script Sourav Ganguly and John Wright may have conjured up, to a T. Except for a slight hiccup on the third afternoon. India was firm favourite to wrap it up on the last day, and series looked like starting on a very similar note to the way the last one ended. Some of the protagonists were also the same, namely Balaji and Sehwag. Unthinkably for Ganguly and co, Kamran Akmal and Abdul Razzaq had the steel to play out a major part of the final day. Looking back in the end, that third afternoon which looked like no big deal, was to prove crucial. At a stage when India should have mercilessly driven home the advantage, a mere 129 runs were scored off 59 overs. And this when our best attacking players were at the crease. Admittedly, Ganguly was woefully out of touch, but it is not clear why the others slowed down or what the team strategy was, given that a bit of time was lost on the second day. Sehwag and Gambhir more than made up for the lost time, but the change in gears in the opposite direction was somewhat perplexing. The team indicated it wanted to grind the Pakistan attack and team to despair. Instead, what could have been a 250-300 run lead ended up at only about 200. It would be unfair to blame the inability to secure the win on that stretch of play, given that the bowlers were unable to dislodge Razzaq and were taken to task by Akmal. But it once again highlights the benefits of a positive approach, so well epitomized by Sehwag. Not everyone can or should bat with the same devil-may-care attitude, but it pays to play your own game. - NK

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