This Christmas, it is very likely that I’ll be going off to sleep early. I would not like to stay up late and party for a very simple reason.
India takes on Australia at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test Match. Just the idea of listening to Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry commentate on what promises to be an exciting series is enough to make me get up early on the 26th of this month.
And I’m seriously hoping (and praying) that the 16 man Indian team is hungry enough. If they show enough intent, I’m sure that India can put up a very good fight and come close to winning their first series on Australian soil.
Let us have a look at who in the Indian team should have the hunger to succeed and why.
Wasim Jaffer has had a good run of late and the second double hundred of his career against Pakistan at Eden Gardens (his first double century was against West Indies in their back-yard) should give him all the confidence required to dig in his heels at the outset of the innings.
Sehwag is the guy who should look at this opportunity as a God-send. Not many were expecting him to be selected for the tour. Now that his name has come up, he should make the most of it and prove a point to his critics. Who could ever forget that Sehwag sixer at Multan to become the first Indian to score a triple century? If Sehwag shows even a glimpse of that triple hundred or even the 195 that he scored at the MCG, it will be worth all the effort to wake up early.
Personally, I will be disappointed if Dinesh Karthik isn’t given a look-in in this series. Except for his poor form in the home series against Pakistan, he has done very little wrong this year at the openers’ slot. I really liked the way he batted in England. Even if he gets a single Test to showcase his talent, he should grab it with both hands.
How many times does Rahul Dravid need to prove to the Indian public and cricket-gurus that he is worth his place in the side? He was not nicknamed ‘The Wall’ for no reason. Dumped from the one-day series against Pakistan, he scored a brilliant double century in the Ranji Trophy. That prompted the selectors to give him a berth in the Test side and I don’t care what others say, he looked majestic when he played the cover drives at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. Australia is just the kind of place where he could prove to the world and, more importantly, to the detractors in his own country that he is still a couple of years away from retiring.
To talk of why Sachin Tendulkar should have the hunger to do well is to ask why the sun should continue shining. Only extremely well disciplined cricketers would have the same passion and commitment towards the game after spending almost two decades at the highest level.
Saurav Ganguly, apart from being known as ‘Dada’ and ‘The Prince of Calcutta’ (a lot of credit due to a certain Mr. Boycott for the latter nick-name) is also known as ‘Maharaja’. He certainly has been batting as one recently. To march back into a team from which he was so unceremoniously kicked out shows the mettle that he’s made of. Now, he needs to continue the brilliance, starting with his 100th test match which will be the first of the Australian series.
It was Tony Greig (I think) who said that the VVS in Laxman’s name stood for Very Very Special and not Vangipurappu Vekata Sai (I doubt whether Tony Greig could pronounce that properly even once). I was reading Mukul Kesavan’s blog during the Delhi Test against Pakistan and he mentioned how the fans at the stadium thought that Laxman had unjustly been kept in the side and India should have played Yuvraj instead. Fact remains that there is much more to VVS Laxman’s career than the fantastic 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens. He brings even more solidity to the middle and is as stylish as they make them. A pure treat to watch.
Yuvraj Singh very, very desperately wanted to play in Tests for India. This was apparent when he was being interviewed by Rameez Raja. This was when Yuvi had just been awarded the Man of the Series award for the ODIs against Pakistan. Even in the midst of all the celebration, he mentioned that there was nothing he would like more than to represent India in the Tests. And boy, did he prove his point by the way he batted in the final Test !! If he maintains the same hunger and performs against what seems to be one of his favourite oppositions in the world, there’s no reason why the Brett Lees and Shaun Taits should have a couple of sleepless nights.
During India’s tour of England, Harsha Bhogle had pointed out something unique about Dhoni. He would walk in to the middle with a swagger and irrespective of how many runs he scored, on being dismissed he would still walk back to the dressing room with the same swagger. That was important, because that shows he has a calculated cricketing brain which doesn’t get rankled too easily. He just enjoys his cricket and focuses on making lots of runs…quickly. Also, he can stay put at the crease. This was of course apparent in the manner in which he dropped anchor on the last day of the first Test in England at Lord’s.
The Spin Masters:
Anil Kumble is by far one of the most respected cricketers in Test cricket right now. Like Ian Chappell once remarked, one rarely sees ‘Jumbo’ having a verbal go at the batsmen (I can remember only two such instances – one where he got into a dialogue with Inzamam-ul-Haq and the other one during the last Test at England…I think that one was with Kevin Pieterson). Yet, he remains one of the most aggressive spin bowlers in today’s day and age. Whoever doubt that he can be aggressive should be reminded of the Kumble who marched out to bowl against the West Indies with his head covered in plaster.
Harbhajan Singh needs to once again prove his worth and Sydney could well be the place where he could do it.
The Speed Department:
Zaheer Khan has been fantastic this season, and all that the Indian team needs to do in order to get him hungry is perhaps throw a couple of jellybeans on the pitch when Zaheer Khan goes out to bat.
RP Singh has perhaps been the find of the year in the bowling department for India. If he maintains his fitness, he’ll prove to be quite a handful to attack the Australians with Zaheer at the other end.
Irfan Pathan, in my opinion, has been doing well since his comeback. Of course he hasn’t had the pace with which he rocked the Test-playing nation when he first burst on to the scene, but good ol’ line & length bowling and he should do well.
Ishant Sharma impressed one and all with his second spell of the last Test match against Pakistan. That’s what got him his place in the touring party. Let’s hope the lanky youngster continues to improve and do justice to his raw talent.
On debut, Pankaj Singh should have all the motivation and hunger required to make a point to the cricketing bosses in India and the cricket loving public across the world. All the best, dude. ~thumbs up~
I logged on to the Net after I’d written this post to realise that Australia too have announced their 12 man Test team. Here it is: Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait.
P.S. Arpz, I know that you can’t even think of supporting India when Australia is playing. Good for you. As far as I’m concerned….
Everybody in the house shout… “JEETEGA BHAI JEETEGA…INDIA JEETEGA !!” :D
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