The second test between these 2 nations turned out to be yet another close contest. It might not have been as close as the first one, but still this match had its share of magical moments. For India, Vijay’s century, Sachin’s Double Ton, Pujara’s brisk knock in second innings and for the OZ Ponting’s knocks in both the innings and North’s first innings century are worth mentioning. India winning the test match comfortably helped retain its position as No1 Test Nation and the OZ’s, slip in the ICC ratings clearly show that they are in the process of building a team.
However, this series victory of the Indian team can in no way be compared to the famous 2001 series victory. Then, Indian team was pushed against the walls after the first match and the way they bounced back is History. It’s always a good sign to see a team, which is pushed to the wall comes back strongly to win a test match. It gives the same pleasure as watching Agassi fighting to save a match point and later going on to win the match in a 5 setter. Analogies apart, this series gave us insight into lot of aspects with respect to both the teams.
Statistics, of the Indian Team, when Vijay’s century and Raina’s 80 odd runs taken out of the equation, clearly suggests that we are still dependent on the big four of the Indian test squad, the likes of Dravid, Sachin, Laxman and Sehwag. Laxman has to pull us once again out of the ruts during the first test match and it was Sachin’s double ton that helped india build up a big score in the second test match. Though the quick fire 70 runs by Pujrara is an encouraging sign, it is too early to make conclusions about him fitting the role of one of the Fab Four. Gambhir is going through a lean patch, and Sehwag’s scores of quick 50’s will do little good when we travel to South Africa later this year. Dhoni’s contribution with the bat has not been up to the standards and it will be good for the team if he can reproduce the T20 form in Tests. On the positive side, we have youngsters making contribution to the team in crucial junctures. But their skills will be tested, when we play better team abroad in bowler friendly conditions. The best find of the ’01 series against SA was Virender Sehwag, scoring a century on debut against SA pace attack. Will the upcoming tour bring one such prospect for the Indian middle order?
Shifting our focus to bowling, Zaheer khan still the plays the lone lead role of the attack. He gets little assistance from Harbhajan, another seasoned player. The younger crop of Ishant and Sreesanth, still need to find their feet back again in the test arena. Ishant was impressive in the 2nd innings of the 1st test match, but he needs more such spells to gain confidence and partner Zaheer. Pragyan Ohja, has been impressive with his left arm bowling, but again he has to test his skills against better teams in trying conditions. India has to sort out these issues and should have good bench strength especially in bowling, if they need to retain their No:1 position.
The OZ team was one good bowler short in both the test matches. In the 2nd Test, had they had Bollinger fit for the match, it could have become a much closer affair. They were clearly missing the services of bowlers like Mcgrath, Warne, and Lee. But if they can get a bowler like Stuart Clarke, for the ashes, then this Australian team could still challenge the English Team. Also their batting has not been too impressive but for the knocks from Watson and Ponting. Clarke has to regain his form before the start of ashes, to help Ponting and Watson. Ponting needs to convert those 70’s and 80’s to big hundreds, as he has so often done in the past, for the team to get a big score. Marcus North, who had been finding it hard for quite some time, scored a century and it, could help his confidence and the OZ team, a world of good.
For OZ, the best find of the tour could be Tim Paine and Hilfenhaus. They were impressive in both the test matches. Hilfenhaus bowled his heart out in second test match at Bangalore. Had luck been in his side, he would have added up a couple of more wickets to his tally. Tim paine’s innings at Mohali, revealed that he belongs to the bigger stage of Test. But he has his work cut out, if he wants to fill in the shoes of almost irreplaceable Gilly. Oz also needs to find a player like Symonds who can be called an all-rounder.
This series proved that the test matches can still retain its place among the other formats of the game, when played between competitive teams at compelling venues. But had the indian curators, made sure that the pitches, assisted bowlers a little more than what they actually did, this series could have been more interesting.
This series yet again showcased the growing rivalry between the two teams, most importantly in right spirit; also helped the game to overcome the match fixing scandals, which rocked the world during the last couple of months.