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India v South Africa, 1st Test, Chennai, 5th day
Manjrekar: A forgettable Test
March 30, 2008
Neil McKenzie's form, Virender Sehwag's 300 and Rahul Dravid's milestone are the only memories that stand out
 
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It was heartening to see the way Harbhajan Singh bowled his heart out but he should be a little more creative in the next two games and create wicket-taking opportunities © AFP
 

Sanjay Manjrekar: Finally the match came to an end and I don't think anyone was complaining.

Virender Sehwag's brilliance gave some hope of a win to the Indians but the players were really battling against the odds to get a result in these conditions.

I think first and foremost, the players deserve a pat on their backs for going through five days at Chepauk. If you have played at the MAC Ground, I can tell you that inside the stadium it is like you are in a sauna for about five days for seven hours a day. It is not easy at all and so the players really deserve a lot of credit for sticking it out.

It was also great to see India in the post-lunch session - when the lead was growing and there was no way a result was possible - trying very hard to make something happen. This is the new India where you see the players, inspite of the situation, playing with a lot of intensity. That was a great sign especially for somebody like me who played in the '90s. We had players dropping their heads after the first session if it was a bit too hot or if there wasn't much left in the game. So that was very nice to see.

It was also heartening to see the way Harbhajan Singh was trying in that session. As I mentioned at the start of the Test series, I think this is an excellent opportunity for Singh to get back to making an impact in Tests, the way he had done at the start of his career. Maybe in the next two matches there will be a little more imagination from his side. He would have learnt a few things about trying to create wicket-taking opportunities. But it was good to see that his heart was in his bowling and he was concentrating on cricket and not too many other things. It was nice to see that.

I get the feeling that Ahmedabad [could be the same], unless Dheeraj Parsana - the curator there who is a cricketer himself of some repute - feels strongly about the way the first Test has gone. Otherwise I feel that Ahmedabad could be another tester for the players. It is another flat pitch. It has red soil but it doesn't turn as much as it does in Mumbai; it doesn't help too much in the first session as it does in Mumbai. So Ahmedabad also doesn't promise too many things as far as a result and a good Test is concerned.

Nothing much can be said about the contest between bat and ball but of course the Test will be remembered for some great batting exploits. Neil McKenzie, coming in place of Herschelle Gibbs, grabbed the opportunity with both hands. [He played] two terrific innings in this Test against the odds and against the weather conditions. Then of course, Virender Sehwag - what can you say about that innings? I am still recovering from that sensational performance. And last, but not the least, Rahul Dravid crossing 10,000 runs in this Test. These will be the memories that will come out of this Test that has otherwise been quite forgettable.

This is a lesson for the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association perhaps that when they stage a Test in the summer, around March and April, they have to be realistic and give the players some kind of support by preparing a pitch that has something for the seamers. I have seen a Chepauk pitch with a bit of grass on it. It [grass] can offer a lot of support to the seamers, I've seen that happen in the past. Or they could go the other way and prepare a pitch that has something for the spinners. But a flat pitch in March, in Chennai is not a pretty good idea.

Let us hope this is the last matches of its kind in Chennai and in the rest of the series.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. @sanjaymanjrekar


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Posted by Nampally on (March 31, 2008, 13:43 GMT)

India did well to get S.Africa in the first innings although they gave too many runs through bad fielding. Nevertheless under oppressive conditions this was good effort. However India failed to capitalize on a brilliant and fast 319 from Sehwag and folded like nine pins after Sehwag on a easy paced pitch. That was the turning point. Had India added 400 on the 4th day, it would have been a different story. Lessons learnt 1. Prpare more sporting wickets to produce results 2. Opportunity comes but once - India must learn to capitalize 3. Change hours of play to 8 AM to 11 AM and then 3 PM to 6 PM to combat heat factor 4. Greater focus on youth to cope with the conditions 5. Proper team replacements e.g., Include Gambhir or Yuvraj & Chawla to replace Tendulkar and Kumble, who are both injured. Also Kumar and Ishant to replace Sreesanth and RP Singh. India has many options to deal with both pitches and weather conditions by including players of right choice. More spirited team needed.

Posted by A_PROUD_INDIAN on (March 31, 2008, 13:04 GMT)

Heavily disappointed with the dead pitch. It was expected to be a great battle but wasn't to be!!! Some thought has to be give that at least in TEST matches we prepare a wicket which has something for the bowlers. With ODIs and now T20s, we can't afford to have DRAWs purely due to badly prepared pitch.

And I agree with Sanjay it was a test to forget. Its true that Viru's 319 & Rahul's 10k runs was some thing to cheer about. But dont forget its a team game & individual records are just rewards but the true Award is Team's victory. And both of them would have like to have the Award than reward.

Posted by Patcom on (March 31, 2008, 12:54 GMT)

The chennai pitch was meant for toddlers to say the least. What a bummer of a match...Sanjay you are exactly right...and neither I wouldnt be suprised to see fast bowlers voluntarily opting out of Test matches to be played on pitches like these in the future....What..Even Boycott's mother in law would have score a triple century on this dust bowl.. When will the administrators or the curators ever learn to prepare a TRUE pitch...It would have being worth the salt if India had won...who is bothered of the fastest triple or 10000 runs if it doesnt win you matches.

Posted by guptavipulv on (March 31, 2008, 8:40 GMT)

It is high time the Cricket Administrators and Curators realise that they are doing a huge disservice to Test Cricket by producing such pitches. With the advent of T20 as it is there are fears that the days of Test Cricket are numbered which would be a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT for a connossieur like me. And by producing such DEAD DODOS it is merely fuelling the philistines who clamour for the end of Test Cricket. There should be a good contest between bat and ball. And lately even if a careful analysis of the performance of our Indian Cricket Team is made it will be found that our Team has done well becoz there was someting in it for the bowlers who were good enough to exploit it to their advantage.

Posted by rajkoppa on (March 31, 2008, 0:35 GMT)

After a wonderful Australian series it's sad to see the players playing on a dead pitch like this. Actually what is the motivation to prepare a pitch like this? is pitch making a trail and error process or what? It's pathetic to see this test match except the audacious Sehwag's triple century. When does the paradigm shift happens with the Indian cricket administration? are they afraid of seeing India loosing if they prepare fast pitch, but they just played on Australian pitches and it would have been ideal to prepare a fast pitch. Anyways they killed the interest of watching cricket from America(by loosing our sleep) one more time. Kudo's to Indian cricket management.

Thanks Raj

Posted by SujoyMoulik on (March 30, 2008, 18:36 GMT)

Its hard to believe why such wickets are still made in our country. These type of dead wickets having nothing for the bowlers in it are really destroying the interests of Test cricket which is already falling back to ODIs and Twenty20s. The BCCI,local cricket boards and the curators should do something to hold the interests of the people in Test matches. When ODIs and T20s are designed especially for the batters, why not design the Test Cricket for the bowlers, where the wickets will have plenty for the bowlers so that the skills of the batters are tested to survive and make runs and we can see more results on Indian surfaces.

Posted by ManujBalaji on (March 30, 2008, 17:27 GMT)

Sanjay, what do you want to forget in this test. This test match will be recorded in the history. For the fastest triple century by any person in a test match for the highest individual score by an indian. dravid has completed his 10000 runs.

Posted by roshan_sherigar on (March 30, 2008, 15:06 GMT)

A real dull test match, as a neutral observe the only interesting thing in the game was the thought that Viru could break Brian Lara's record. The rest of it was absolutely dull and boring.

A few more of such games, and test match cricket is bound for a slow death. With 20-20 becoming a rage in India, Test cricket will soon be seen as a waste of time, unless pitches are prepared which make the game interesting.

Nowadays, fans of test cricket will only watch games in which their own teams are involved or in which Australia could be beaten. No one cares of the other games.The next test is also expected to head the same way. God save Test cricket.

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