There are days when the body refuses to come out of the quilt as late as 8 am, in the freezing cold here in Delhi; snooze button always takes priority. Today was different. The prospect of watching Murali Vijay and Co. batting their way to glory against the Aussies was too much to sacrifice for a few hours of sleep. And so I (like most cricket crazy denizens from India) woke up at 5:30 am to watch India bat.
I’ve been a Vijay (not to be confused with Tamil actor Ilayathalapathy Vijay) fan right from 2009 when he scored a classy 80 odd against SL in the same match Viru bullied SL bowlers on his way to 293 in Mumbai. There was an elegance in the way he caressed the cricket ball, even then, 5 years ago! How much he has improved over the years. 97 against Steyn and Co. in Durban last Boxing Day, match-winning second innings 95 at Lord’s this summer and all his five innings this series so far stand testimony to the fact that the Monk has made the opening spot his own, for the next 2-3 years at least (he is 31 now, almost).
The fact that his wicket in Adelaide (on 99) changed the course of the match speaks volumes about the value he adds to the current Indian team. I personally feel he could open for India in the ODI World Cup coming Feb, considering his current form down under. His ODI record so far might work against him though. He’s played 13 innings at 19.46 without a single 50 against his name. The tri-series next month (Ind, Aus and Eng) will answer a lot of questions.
Kohli – Rahane marathon
If Rahul Dravid feels that a talent is promising, he HAS to be promising. Rahane played brilliantly in patches in the SA, NZ tours and initial parts of the English summer, and is slowly arching out a name for himself in this Aus tour; two fifties and terrific century in five innings so far. In today’s innings, more than the number of runs he scored, it was the way in which he scored them that stood out – innovative upper cuts, flashing drives and confident pulls, treat to watch.
Kohli has grown so much in the minds of an average Indian cricket fan that when he gets out for 169, fans are disappointed. He’s slowly but surely becoming the next Sachin Tendulkar in terms of mounting expectations from fans.
Think about this. Kohli now has as many Test hundreds in Australia as Dravid, Ganguly and Sehwag combined in all their tours to Australia. And he is 26.
As an ardent cricket fan, it was extremely pleasing to see two young Indian batsmen pull Mitchel Johnson at will, in his own backyard. It’s not something you get to see everyday.
Rahul and MSD dismissals
Promising young talent KL Rahul made his Test debut today. Two ugly Tino Best-esque heaves on his debut innings is not exactly the way he would have wanted to start his career with. But spare a thought for the youngster. He’s just playing his first ever innings in Test cricket and a lot of nerves might have played on him. I’m sure he’ll go on to play for India for many years in the future, if his domestic record is something to judge him by.
With all the Dhoni bashing going on, saying he needs to stop playing Test cricket for India, I sometimes wonder if the Indian fan has a very short memory. He was the second highest run scorer for India this English summer with two eighties, one seventy and one fifty against his name, when Kohli averaged 13.5 in 10 innings.
The road ahead
There’s so much to look forward to, in the remaining 7 days of this series. It’s not like India is ruling Australia at their home or something. We are trailing 2-0 and staring at a “chance” of defeat in the third test, but we’ve had our moments; much more than we had in the series three years ago. To think that India would be relegated to No. 7 in Test Rankings if they lose this series 4-0 is a bit scary. Who knows, for all you know, India might weave some magic in the last seven days to level the series, 2-2. That’s the beauty of Test Cricket.