Friday, April 01, 2005

The Curse of Bangalore

In the end, the Bangalore test was a perfect illustration of George Santayana's famously wise words. India did not learn from so many previous failures and went down the same beaten track. Not surprisingly, the result was a resounding defeat. An ultra-defensive approach, both on the batting and bowling fronts, cost India the game. Once Virender Sehwag was cut down in full flow in the most undeserved manner, there were only two possible outcomes to the game. Clearly, the approach of the rest of the line-up indicated the chase would be abandoned if Sehwag did not make a hefty contribution. Playing for a draw from thereon may not have been the worst strategy, considering it was a last day wicket offering assistance to spinners; however, the way the draw was sought was extremely disappointing. The strategy, if there was a clear one, on the fourth evening, was even more perplexing. No doubt it was a good wicket to bat on and Pakistan had nothing to lose. But the Indian team bowled as if the Pakistani onslaught led by Afridi was an inevitability. Afridi's weakness against the short ball is well known and although neither Pathan nor Balaji are quick enough to bounce him out, there should have at least been sustained attack on this weakness. On the one occasion Pathan managed to get it right, he almost got Afridi. All in all, it was one of the most listless bowling performances that I have seen in a long time, totally bereft of ideas and attacking purpose. Pakistan were allowed to freely dictate terms. All this after an excellent pre-lunch session for India frustrated Pakistan no end, with Laxman batting well around the tail, in the process showing his value to the side. But then, as has so often been the case, the ultra-defensive approach proved fatal. Pakistan no doubt would have been pleased with result, having been expected to be clearly second best. To their credit, they grabbed all the opporunities they got. For India, they don't really have any curse to cite as an excuse for the defeat, despite the venue not being India's favourite haunt. It was yet another lost opportunity in a most disappointing season. - NK

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