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I took in a session of the second day of the Delhi Test from a strange angle: very high up in the West Stand and perpendicular to the wicket. The novelty of watching the action side-on (fast bowling seems faster because you can't see the ball once someone like Akhtar lets it go and it's startling to see how far forward batsmen stretch in defence) soon wore off because it was hard to tell why someone was beaten or what the ball was doing.
Wasim Jaffer plays the flick to the square leg boundary as well as any man alive. He brought one off against Akhtar in the first over of the Indian innings and for a fleeting moment he looked like Greg Chappell in his prime, all upright elegance. He hit three more like that, two off Sohail Tanvir and another one off Akhtar and they all went for four. Jaffer is an enigma: it's hard to reconcile the man who plays the grand on-drive and that lordly flick, with the anonymous player who will wait inertly upon events, over after over, whose bat sounds like cracked sheeshum instead of seasoned willow each time he pushes or drives on the off-side. I like him very much: I just wish he'd hurry up and make another hundred so that we can begin to take his place for granted at the top of the order.
Yuvraj strolled into the arena occasionally in his capacity as twelfth man or something. Each time that happened lots of people rushed to the front of the stand and peered down and screamed "Yuvi!" The man in front of me, who stood and obscured the action whenever a shot was played (he'd leap to his feet, adjust himself and press his cell phone to his ear in practiced sequence) complained to his seated friend about Yuvraj's exclusion. Not playing him in Delhi—saalon nein Dilli mein nahin khilaya—seemed to aggravate the injustice done him. I began to feel like an Arsenal fan marooned among Man U maniacs. Yahoos for Yuvraj to the left of me, Lumpen against Laxman behind me. Unwilling to watch VVS make his magic among these brutes, I left the stadium when Tendulkar ran himself out and found myself a sympathetic television set.
The rest, I hope, will be history. Laxman came in when the score was 88 for 4 and inspite of losing Dravid on 93 and Dhoni at 208, he steered India to within a boundary of the Pakistan total by close of play. He was, as he often is in Test matches, the best batsman on show. It is absurd that he bats at six. Kumble has done nearly everything right in his debut as captain. Before the match began he was forthright in his endorsement of Laxman as an automatic selection for the Test team. Now that VVS has vindicated his judgment, the skipper should promote him to five in the batting order, ahead of Ganguly. Number three would be better, but down here in the VVS dugout, we aren't in a hurry. Test cricket's our game: we're used to taking things one day at a time.
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Mukul Kesavan teaches social history for a living and writes fiction when he can - he is the author of a novel, Looking Through Glass. He's keen on the game but in a non-playing way. With a top score of 14 in neighbourhood cricket and a lively distaste for fast bowling, his credentials for writing about the game are founded on a spectatorial axiom: distance brings perspective. Kesavan's book of cricket - Men in Whitewas published in 2007.