February 5, 2002

A fitting finale to a thrilling series

The six match one-day series ended in Mumbai amidst great excitement with both teams winning three each. India should have won the series by a 5-1 margin but for their reluctance to learn from earlier mistakes. This was more apt in the case of the middle-order batsmen and once again they made a hash of things when the Indian side was cruising to a victory.

Marcus Trescothick
© CricInfo
Marcus Trescothick, tipped to be the future England captain, played an attacking knock yet again. For some reason or the other, he went after Agarkar in particular and decimated the latter in the opening spell. The left-hander relished the pace and the bounce of the Wankhede Stadium and unleashed attractive strokes all around the wicket. It appeared that Trescothick had resolved to enjoy himself on the concluding day of the tour. Though he lost his partner Nick Knight early on, he carried the attack to the Indians along with Hussain. But just when this partnership was reaching dangerous proportions, Hussain departed.

Ganguly was forced to bring himself on with Trescothick getting stuck into the spinners in their early overs. The skipper has the knack of providing breakthroughs and he, in fact, went on to claim two wickets in his only spell. With the visitors in sight of something around 300 runs, Ganguly in a last throw of the dice re-introduced Harbhajan Singh. The Turbanator got into the act as if in vengeance by getting two wickets in an over including that of the danger man, Trescothick. The English middle order has competed with that of their rival team by caving in on earlier occasions but Harbhajan completely outwitted them at the Wankhede Stadium. He returned his best figures. It was good to see Harbhajan bowl like he did against the Australians a year ago. Unfortunately, Harbhajan's efforts were not supported in the end overs as the last wicket put on enough runs to pile the pressure on the Indians.

Sourav Ganguly
© AFP
Ganguly was in a situation wherein circumstances dictated the course of action he had to follow. The success of Sehwag at the top and his successive century partnerships with Tendulkar left the Indian skipper no other alternative but to push himself down to number three. The explosive pair of Sehwag and Tendulkar started off in the usual manner and the crowd was hoping that they would bat till the first half of the Indian innings. Gough had other ideas and when he found the edge of the little master Tendulkar, the evening coffees went cold all over the country. Ganguly looked positive and confident and it would only be fair to say that his running between the wickets came as a pleasant surprise. He was keen on picking up singles till he gauged the pitch. Once he got the measure of the bowling, he began striking the ball way into the crowds at will. His confidence level was high and the way he charged the English fast bowlers suggested that the skipper has got over his blues. He fell to Giles again but this time around he was unfortunate to see the ball ricocheting on to the stumps.

Ganguly's dismissal rekindled the flagging spirit of the visitors and the hosts repeated what they did in Delhi in impeccable fashion. In the end, the visitors clinically strangled the lower order batsmen and leveled the series before embarking on a flight to New Zealand.

There were quite a few aspects, which were consistent, and unfortunately none were on the positive side. To start off, the visitors played their middle overs badly after good starts, which was aped by the hosts as well. Secondly, the youngsters in the Indian side have not utilised the opportunities that came their way. Thirdly, the incompetence of the umpires was quite obvious and the mistakes were horrendous. The entire nation was embarrassed by some disgraceful umpiring decisions in the one-dayers and it is about time that real good umpires are appointed.