Monday, April 14, 2008

The Kanpur Pitch, Dhoni's Captaincy and More


The pitch at Kanpur made for enthralling cricket. There have been several critics who have raised issues about the state of pitches in India. I believe when a country like South Africa visits us, this is the kind of pitch we must prepare. This is based on simple logic. When India visits South Africa or Australia, we aren’t made to play on dustbowls, are we? The test match at Kanpur did get over in three days, but it served up some excellent entertainment for the watching masses. And of course India emerged victorious and ensured that they remain second behind Australia in the ICC Test Rankings.

For a test match to be interesting, the pitch must necessarily have something in it for the bowlers. The pitch at Madras for the first test was awful. I cannot believe commentators went on about how Sehwag’s innings was a great advertisement for test cricket. It was no doubt, an outstanding knock, making 300 runs in an innings is no joke, but it can hardly be considered as an advertisement for test cricket. The pitch had absolutely nothing in it for the bowlers and it was the worst pitch ever prepared in Madras for a test match in my living memory. For my money, Ganguly’s 87 at Kanpur is a far greater advertisement for test cricket than Sehwag’s 319 at Madras.

Moving on, Dhoni’s captaincy has been extremely impressive. I thought he led the side superbly during the recently concluded CB Series in Australia and he was exceptional once again at Kanpur in his first test as captain. It is remarkable to see such calmness and composure on the field from someone who is captaining his team for the first time. He rung in the bowling changes at the right time and was not afraid to experiment with his field placements. His decision to use Sehwag more extensively than Piyush Chawla and to open the bowling with Harbhajan Singh worked brilliantly and every decision that Dhoni made on the field seemed to yield results. I was one of the many cynics who felt that the selectors were making a grave mistake by appointing Dhoni as captain of the ODI team. After his performances in Australia and at Kanpur, I am glad to accept that I was wrong.

Whilst on the subject of the Kanpur test, I cannot fail to mention the truly fantastic knock played by Sourav Ganguly. It almost seemed as if Ganguly was playing on a different pitch. He went about his business unperturbed by the conditions and if the ball was there to be hit, he readily obliged. Some of the strokes, especially a magnificent square drive of Steyn were reminiscent of his wonderful innings’ at Lords and at Trent Bridge in 1996. Like Dravid once said, on the off side first there is god and then there in Ganguly. However more than the crisply struck cover drives and the superb shot over midwicket of Harris for a six, it was the singles that he took to keep the strike rotating that really stood out in what was a princely knock from the Prince of Calcutta.

1 comment:

Rahul Saha said...

I agree. I didn't watch the game but Sewhag's knock, after a point, was boring.