It would be wrong to begin any analysis of the Test match with any subject other than Virender Sehwag's incredible triple-century. I mentioned in a previous article how Gary Kirsten used to get into trouble with Hansie Cronje for admiring the batting of Sachin too much while we were fielding – well, I was almost guilty of the
Of course, it was a flat track for batting but that does not explain the skill, imagination, strength and fitness to score at more than a run a ball for nine hours. Many times I thought 'this can't carry on' because he was playing so many shots. Surely he would make a
mistake. But he didn't and I couldn't help admiring his stroke-play, especially when I wasn't bowling!
As a batting all-rounder rather than a bowling all-rounder I have had plenty to say over the years about pitches which offer an unfair advantage to bowlers and make life difficult for batsmen, so I
must be careful what I say now. I am in favour of pitches which provide an even contest between bat and ball, which provide even bounce for the batsmen but also some movement, seam or spin, for the bowlers.
Obviously, this pitch did not do that. I would have been happy to bat on it on day seven! I don't know whether it was a deliberate move or whether it was accidental, but all I would say is that it wasn't ideal. However, given the choice between playing on a 'good' pitch and a 'bad' one which is designed to produce a result quickly, I would still rather play on a pitch like the one in Chepauk.
A batsman-friendly pitch makes greater demands on a team's tactical skills and, although bowlers have to work harder for their wickets, those with the ability to deliver the most wicket-taking balls will eventually succeed. Of course, I would rather have a pitch with plenty of pace and bounce and a bit of grass on it, but I don't think that's going to happen in Ahmedabad or Kanpur!
Both teams now begin the process of assessing their strengths and weaknesses, both in playing terms and in fitness terms. Perhaps one or both sides will rest a fast bowler in order to have fresh legs for the third Test. Maybe there are a few injuries and niggles which have been kept quiet. Two back-to-back Tests are hard enough, but three in a row requires a lot of forward thinking and planning.
Personally, I feel fine physically – a result, I'm disappointed to say, of not batting long enough and taking advantage of the conditions. But at the end of five hard days I feel very much as
though honours were shared evenly. We were probably a couple of points ahead after two days and then Viru grabbed them all back took India well ahead on the third. But we had a similarly dominant day on the fourth day before the game faded away.
As pleased as I am for Hashim Amla and Neil McKenzie, both of whom scored 200+ runs, I am no different from everyone else in that I will always remember this match as 'Viru's Test.'
(Hawkeye Communications / Chivach Sports)
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