And That’s How You Lose The Initiative

A dream start… the kinds most cricket fans pray for the night before the match. One over into the match and Pakistan were 0-3. Soon enough, they were 13-4 and before you could say “jumping Jack Rabbit”, they were 39-6. About 3 hours later, they ended up with all of 245 runs.

Without taking too much away from the heroics of Kamran Akmal, the blame has to lie squarely on the shoulders of the Indian think-tank and the bowlers, who probably got too excited, and did not finish the job at hand. Ideally, Pakistan should never have crossed 120.

All those who watched the game would agree that soon after lunch, the Indians lost any sense of direction and were guilty of spraying the ball all over. That said, Kamran Akmal did bat very well and was instrumental in defying the hitherto potent bowling.

Abdul Razzaq hung around, but not before the umpires had given him a lease of life. As Michael Holding put it, “They are getting into the mode where they think they can’t give everything out. But what is out, it out”. Alas and alak, too bad the umpires don’t think like that.

India did not start off too well and almost the entire top order flattered to deceive. Tendulkar, Laxman and Sehwag (in that order), promised much but delivered nothing. Thankfully, Ganguly, Yuvaraj and then Pathan and Zaheer brought India to within 7 runs of the Pak total. It could have been much worse…

Any hopes that Indian fans would have nurtured of a repeat of the first Innings effort were more than thwarted and it was eventually Ganguly (he sure is getting noticed, eh?) who broke through. Another quick wicket followed but by then Pak were well in control of the match at 130-odd for 2 and the old firm of Younis and Yousuf had taken over.

What lies in store for India tomorrow is anybody’s guess. My head tells me that India would probably lose this match by a 150 or 200 runs by lunch on day 4. (I am expecting Pakistan to go on and make about 400). But my heart is hoping there is a miracle… a Dravid-Laxman duet or a Sachin-Sourav effort that will take India home.

But are we simply too used to this kind of a performance? At some level, was I always thinking “This is too good to be true”? Maybe… but why? So many times, we have reached dizzying heights of performance only to come back to ground almost immediately. It’s not funny… not anymore. If anything, it’s becoming rather disgusting. How many times should we be bailed out of winning positions? The question itself, in fact, is a major oxymoron…  

What was confidence after the first 2 hours of the Test has turn into hope after 2 days of the Test. Come on India…

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