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Thursday, July 19, 2007

India vs England: Preview

The three of us were having yet another animated discussion the day before, on Indian cricket, when 'Citizen Shaker' made an obvious but an apt remark, "There are 2 regular openers in the side and one stand-by, and funnily enough it's only the stand-by who seems to be a certainty."

Dinesh Karthick has been the big find of the last year, impressing everyone, with his versatility of talent, and strength of character. Can you think of any other cricketer who threatened the position of two specialists in the team at the same time - one of the openers and the wicket-keeper. Quite an achievement, that!

It's been almost 2 decades now since Sunil Gavaskar last played for India, and a little under that for his long-standing partner, Krish Srikkanth, yet India's elusive search for 2 quality openers that began in the winter of 1987 continues without success. Barring Navjot Singh Siddhu and to some extent Virender Sehwag, almost none of the many, many openers that we have experimented with have had even a modicum of success. At best you may try and name Ravi Shastri, but he never really had a long run as an opener, and the only great innings i can recall are 2 - one apiece in Australia and the West Indies. Though I have a serious apprehension that BCCI's failure to find a coach for Team India might eclipse this failure very soon!

With India's batters very poor display in the tour games so far, the hope for the team actually comes from the opposite end : Freddy ain't playing, and so is Harmison. And if Hoggard joins them on the sidelines, Rahul Dravid & Co. will be facing a close to second string English attack. They relished a similar opportunity the last time they were Down Under ( Mc Grath and Warnie were both absent), and this challenge can only be easier. England has anyways been a favourite hunting ground for India's top troika. If Zaheer and Sreesanth can manage to get us the early breakthroughs, Kumble might be able to trouble the spinphobic English batsmen just about enough. I can't see Kumble causing considerable and/or quick damage, so the chief onus will lie with the experienced batters. Let's just hope that Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar sing for us a collective and beautiful English swan song.

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