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India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Ahmedabad, 3rd day
Sanjay Manjrekar: 'India missed Tendulkar at No. 4'
April 6, 2008
India missed Sachin Tendulkar but credit to the South Africans for grabbing the initiative and not letting it slip
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Sanjay Manjrekar: "I was a bit disappointed with Wasim Jaffer's defensive technique in seaming conditions" © Getty Images

Sanjay Manjrekar: What a shocking result that was in Ahmedabad, especially after that high-scoring draw in Chennai. Who would have imagined, on what was a pretty good batting pitch, that a Test would finish in three days and India would be on the losing side. So that was a bit of a shock. And I think all that had to happen, happened on day one of the Test when the Indian batsmen were found wanting on a pitch that had slightly more bounce - as we expected - than Chennai. The morning freshness also gave a little bit of movement for the South African bowlers, but I don't think there was too much of drastic movement either in the air or off the pitch. But the Indian batting has been packed with players who are very attractive players and who play their shots, but sometimes when the ball seams around, they can be exposed. That is where India missed Sachin Tendulkar at No. 4, who could have perhaps helped then innings together because he has one of the best defensive [technique] in that Indian batting line up. So Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar were the men who would have been able to counter the situation at that time. All the others; Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer - I am bit disappointed with his defensive technique in seaming conditions - Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman are all stroke players and can be sometimes troubled when the ball is seaming around. So Tendulkar was missed in that first innings.

Once you get all out under 80, there is actually very little chance of you coming back and win the Test - it has rarely happened in the past. The only chance India would have had was if their seamers would have been able to get the South African batsmen in trouble. They had them [in trouble] for a while but when you look at the history of Indian cricket there aren't too many Indian fast bowling performances that you remember where a fast bowler has run through the opposition team, getting them out for a low score on a flat pitch. When you talk about great fast bowling performances on flat pitches, it's more the Pakistani bowlers who come to mind. Indian bowlers have never excelled in that area of running through a team on flat pitches. So that is why India has relied heavily on spinners when they are playing at home.

Another interesting trend that I see is that India is winning more, overseas. Their percentage of winning overseas has increased while their percentage of winning at home has decreased. I would like to put that down again to the seamers who perhaps bowl better and are able to use the advantages that they get on pitches overseas in South Africa or England or Australia where the pitches suit their style: to just bowl line and length in an area outside the off stump. That doesn't quite pay dividends when you bowl the same kind of line and length at home. Speed is what is needed, sometimes, on flat pitches to make a difference.

Finally, I think you have got to give credit to the South Africans. Here was a pitch that had something for them and the way India batted would have just helped lift their morale. Once they felt that they had a chance of winning the Test, they didn't let that slip away. We saw the South African's strengths in operation: their fast bowlers have always been their strength and they have some strong pace bowlers in their side now and their catching in the slips has been their other strength - that was on evidence in Ahmedabad.

It was a result that was unexpected and I believe that the Indian batting given the same conditions, will not play like they did in that first innings in Ahmedabad. So I think it was an off day and off-Test for the Indians in Ahmedabad.

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

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Posted by chinmay on (April 7, 2008, 18:08 GMT)

I agree that Indians missed Tendulkar at no.4, but getting bundled out for 76 is inexcusable. That was the end of it. Coming back from that position is very difficult. South Africans played aggressive cricket...all credits to them. Somehow, I am getting a feeling that India is lacking the fire they showed in Australia. Faster bowlers are having a miserable time in the middle and Anil Kumble has had a lackluster series so far. Just a side note: I think Sachin Tendulkar should consider retiring from limited overs cricket soon as end of this year. That will give the young Indian ODI team enough time to gain some valuable experience with Tendulkar around. The groin injury has been there since English tour. I don't think it's worth missing test matches against team like South Africa due to an injury which got aggravated in ODI's. More than 400 ODI's and over 16,000 runs is a sign of a genius...A great player! All of us want to see Tendulkar back at no.1 position in Tests!

Posted by Madan on (April 7, 2008, 8:26 GMT)

I think Neil McKenzie at the top has made a huge difference. When De Villiers or Gibbs batted in the top order, it was easier to make early inroads and get into the middle order. McKenzie's calming influence shields the batting and gets SA off to a good start. And why are we surprised about the impact of their bowling, they have done it over and over. Whenever Ntini is on song and the rest are also on the mark, SA can make life difficult for any batting lineup. Sure, 76 is quite simply abysmal but even 200 against such an attack would have been a long shot. It's a good idea to make a turning track at Kanpur because it might get SA to take in Peterson instead of one of the seamers. Even if they don't, three seamers - hopefully - won't be as lethal as in Motera.

Posted by Vipul on (April 7, 2008, 8:20 GMT)

As far as unpredictability is concerned Team India is second only to Pakistan!! Nobody gave them a chance in hell to do well in Australia and yet over there their performance was nothing short of SPECTACULAR!! In Australia it was Kumble who showed the way to his team by picking 5 wkts on the first day between lunch and tea in the MCG Test. From thereon the team went from strength to strength. Now in India what was expected to be a cakewalk against SA has suddenly turned into a HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE!! Maybe in Australia it was the siege mentality that the Team had developed which helped them since everyone over there was against them. Lack of focus by everyone concerned including the BCCI on the Test Matches and more on the coming IPL seems to have contributed in a major way! And more than the Team missing Sachin (of course a player like Sachin is going to be missed anytime anywhere against any team) we can also manage with a decent opener who can see off the new ball. Believe me people this same batting line up will cause a lot of damage against many bowling attack if only we could find someone who is able to last the initial 25 overs even though he may not be able to score too many runs. It makes a lot of difference once the ball loses its shine and the bowlers are not very fresh.

Posted by Sana on (April 7, 2008, 7:49 GMT)

Wow, what an easygoing review you gave to such a disastrous performance! And how quickly you change your mind! Sanjay this was a terrible performance, stop looking for excuses (which you are clearly looking for, judging by the comments you made about tend just a month ago) and just tell it how it is. I know you are an india fan but please give an unbiased view. India needed that shock to wake them up from the australia dream, and south africa have the tools to do it! Cant wait for the next test, SA will be testing them every inch of the way and then we'll see what india are really made of!

Posted by Naseer on (April 7, 2008, 7:20 GMT)

it does not look fair to depend on one batsman in current arena of cricket, if you look to s.Africans they have won the match as team not by individual performance, bowlers did the job, and batsmen set the flow of match, fielding was as usual brilliant, when u look to such strong batting line up u don't expect such awful performance, India had 8 batsmen, and they have just scored 76 runs, one can expect such poor display from Pak team which are tagged unpredictable, but taking into the account India's recent overall success in cricket it is unbelievable, strong administration, management, power, money, a bunch of well-experienced coaches trainers, strong batting line up, top class players with great records, but the result is 76 all-out on a pitch where Indian bowlers failed to bowl out the opposition. Ok, it was an off-inning, but after seeing s.African batsmen making centuries, it should have encouraged the Indian team to comeback in the 2nd inning.

Posted by BHAVIK on (April 7, 2008, 6:53 GMT)

What a shocking performance by team's a complete disasterous performance.india were certainly underprepared side.they didn't had measure of SA attack,SA batting.they just went through the motions.the only positive from test was ganguly's 87 runs.what a disgrace!!india's batting was exposed to an extreme case.they were outplayed even with attacking,defending,and technical error,mentally.seems that they clearly lacked strong strategies.bowlers were clueless right till the end.kumble's captaincy has question marks.after SA were 110/4 it's an another shocker to allow SA to reach around 500 runs.kumble has let the game zip away many times recently against PAK,AUS.pathan,rp has lost swing.sree'th still gives many runs.bhajji's line of attack has not changed yet to outside off stump.kumble is not able to put/create pressure on batsman which is his strength.

Posted by Swapnil on (April 7, 2008, 6:44 GMT)

Well Manjrekar is setting the record straight. As some of you have already mentioned, he referred to Tendulkar as an "elephant about whom nobody wants to talk about" in the aussie tour. I also remember that prior to the Ahmedabad test, he very clearly mentioned that "India will not miss anyone" (clearly he was referring to Tendulkar). Manjrekar should realize by now that nobody should discount Tendulkar's influence on his teammates and the opposition.

Posted by Aftab on (April 7, 2008, 5:38 GMT)

I completely agree with Mr. Manjrekar, India certainly missed Tendulkar. I felt it on the first day itself when India were out for a paltry 76. This is where the world's best batsman would have come into play. Though India certainly still had a pretty strong batting lineup, only Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman are capable of being destructive on any track, and one cannot expect all three to perform at once. One thing is quite clear, Tendulkar is still the backbone of Indian Cricket - be it ODIs or Tests. The main thing that India lacks right now is a decent opening pair. Sehwag is good, but he would perform much better when the ball is old. On the other hand, Jaffer has been unable to perform against quality oppositions, seems like he's always under tremendous pressure. It's high time India gives some thought on this matter.

Posted by BHAVIK on (April 7, 2008, 4:52 GMT)

Well surprise surprise,SM missing sachin in 2nd test.where he was criticising him badly recently.Rgdng,india's batting,it looked out of focus,depressed,very weak attitude.and bowlers were really expensive,inconsistent,felt the pressure right till the can someone expect them to if not win atlest to be's time to pull up the socks by indian cricket board,coaching staff or whatever.that any sort of disgraceful performance will not be excepted anymore.and to implement tight goals like winning 80-85% of series they play over a certain period of time.if this is not followed,then india's chances to become the best will detiorate fast enough.

Posted by Bharat on (April 7, 2008, 4:16 GMT)

Remmember Bangalore India 65/4 and no Tendulkar,although the pitch eased out ,but conditions were difficult,so what happened Ganguly weathered the strom and he score 239 and almost won the test,Jobur'g 2006 Ganguly and Lakshman were the only ones who played well on a seaming wicket and India made history.Ofcourse Sachin was the greatest batsmen,but now remember England last year an unknown bowler called Sidebottom was simply beating Tendulkar's edge at will at00 Trent Bridge,so i dont think you can completly rely only on Tendulkar to play swing.Even on day 3 it swung exaggeratedly until tea and India still scored 320.I think it was just the Ist day pitch was a complete suprise usually Ahmabd has a beauty from ball1 and deteriorates on day 5 unfortunately the Ist half hour pitch had lots of deamons in them and the South African made use of them and when they entered the next day they were set and well prepared.How SA might have handled the Ist day pitch would have been interesting?

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