Can India win it?

It’s indeed very rare that India goes into the final Test of an away series with a chance of winning the series. They do have the chance this time around and would be foolish not to have a go.

But they are also in a peculiar situation because a draw would allow them to come back home without losing the series and that doesn’t happen too often when India travels! But the first thoughts must be to try and win and if not, then draw. Well, d-uh!

But for India to win, there are some things that need to happen:

  • Sehwag must not play: Apart from a couple of good catches, he has contributed nothing to the team so far. Sure he picked up Morne Morkel’s wicket in the SA 2nd Innings at Durban, but that cannot be why he is in the team. He is an opening batsman and scores of 4, 33, 0 and 8 (avg: 12.25) are simply not good enough. On the other hand, Gautam Gambhir, who played the makeshift two-day game between the first and second Tests, managed a 79*. So if Irfan Pathan can be sent back on grounds of being ‘not in form’ without even playing a Test, Sehwag can surely be sent back after failing in two.
  • Munaf Patel should play: VRV Singh has done a pretty good job of it so far, considering he has played only 4 Tests so far, but if India are serious about winning the series, Munaf Patel simply has to play. And now that he’s fit and Vengsarkar feels he has had enough practice too, it won’t do any harm in fielding him in the final XI.
  • Someone needs to talk to Dravid and Tendulkar: VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly have shown signs of a fight. Tendulkar did that only on the third day until he threw his wicket away. Someone needs to tell him that his wicket is the most important in the team and losing that has psychological effects on both sides. Of course he knows it, but reinstating that could not hurt. As for Dravid, maybe one of the touring commentators (like Gavaskar or Shastri) could have a word with him and tell him to just hang around… he is crucial to India’s success and the link between the top order and middle order. His failure is instant pressure on an already underperforming middle order.
  • Umpiring needs to be fair and consistent: While neither team can control this, the ‘uncertainty’ from umpiring decisions needs to be taken away. Asad Rauf giving Dravid out both times to bad decisions is unacceptable. So is Sreesanth’s decision in the fourth innings at Durban. Who know what could have happened after that? And while it has been said often, there is a desperate need for more umpires on the ICC Elite panel. Even David Shepherd thinks so. And yes, I think the third umpire too should be neutral.

I sincerely hope India makes it through… not often that the bowling is making the opposition (home) dance to its tunes! And please watch out for Ntini!

1st Test Scorecard | 2nd Test Scorecard

Oh, and about the other Test series going on (yes, the Ashes), England may as well forfeit the game, say it’s 0-5 and save themselves some pride for the ODIs coming up. The stage (with three retirees) is simply too big for them to perform on now. Prediction: Australia should win by an innings and plenty!

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