graham gooch made azhar pay for inserting england in on a wicket which held no devils - the indians compounded the blunder by letting him off when he was on less than 30. as some of you might recall, Gooch went on to make 333 in the first innings of that test match and followed that up with a hundred in the second innings. it goes without saying england won.
does it also go without saying that sri lanka will lose the first test at brisbane on account of jayawardene's 'gallipolian' blunder? (sangakkara, jayawardene's closest rival for the captaincy, couldn't have chosen a better test to injure himself out of.)
lovers might recall that nasser hussain, too, had kicked off his ill-fated ashes campaign down under with something similarly god-forsaken. and it is in the light of this and historical data that us well-wishers of this indian team urge kumble not to entertain any thoughts of putting australia in in the first test match of the upcoming series down under. in fact, in most test matches against australia, it's best to bat first; because the way to beat australia is to think like them. and 9 times out of 10, australia will bat first when they win the toss.
nasser didn't. he paid for it with the full series. jayawerdene hasn't. will murali pay for it with fewer wickets? on evidence of his tight spells in the first innings, the australian batsman are far from comfortable against him and things might have been very different for him, had the lankans shown the confidence to bat first. we hope, for the sake of drama, that murali will get his chance to bowl at them with a big total in the bank and take a clutch of wickets during the rest of the series.
in other news, i think it's a good move on the 'wise men's' part to appoint kumble as captain for the tests against pakistan and australia. i believe this will bring out the best from this always-improving cricketer.
logically speaking, it makes perfect sense that dhoni - probably our most valuable odi cricketer - is at the helm of the side in the shorter versions of the game and kumble - whose contributions are most critical in tests - the captain for senior-most avataar of the great game. it also helps that kumble has retired from odis to concentrate on test matches. seeing the way the aussies are steamrolling the lankans, two heads at the top are most certainly going to be a lot more calmer and less-pressured than one.
in the meantime, let's hope we can iron out the numerous chinks in our armour over the course of the engagements against our very friendly and very convivial neighbours. oddly enough, I don't feel so bad that we lost to pakistan. is it just me or is pakistan no longer our enemy number 1 on the cricket field? and if so, who is?
ask me, and i'll tell you i'm happy we don't hate the pakistanis as much as we used to. what used to be played out on the cricket field in the days gone by wasn't cricket. it was cricket adulterated. it was, to echo the title of the very absorbing book by mike marqusee, 'war minus the shooting'.
a less vitriolic india v/s pakistan bodes well for the future of the sub-continent. in fact, we fervently hope india v/s australia doesn't become what india v/s pakistan used to be.