January 29, 2002

Batting blitzes at Green Park

The convincing victory at the Green Park Oval in Kanpur is really what is expected of the Indian side considering its potential. It was a much better performance coming on the heels of their hara-kiri at Chennai, even though they managed to win there. The consistency of the visitors in throwing away good starts through some ordinary batting in the middle overs helped India to keep the game well under control. I hasten to add that this is no attempt to discredit the bowlers, but the English middle order has made it a habit to allow the opposing side to get back into the game.

Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick got off to a flyer, with Knight finally coming good on a low and slow track at the Green Park. The pitch at this venue has been the same for too long, and no attempt has been made to improve the surface. The Green Park is one of the oldest and most-used centres in the country, and it is a shame that the authorities do not pay attention to the most important aspect of a cricket ground. Inasmuch as the officials grumble if a match is not allocated to a particular venue, they do not seem to be concerned about the playing conditions that they provide. It is not that the associations lack funds or resources, but the indifferent attitudes still prevail with gay abandon.

Coming back to the game, the weather gods decreed a truncated match and, in such a situation, it is imperative to alter the game plan. Knight, who was due for some runs, hit his way back into form and in doing that showed why he has such a good record. Knight's career took a dip after the 1999 World Cup, and that was due to some indifferent treatment from the English team management. His was severe against Ajit Agarkar in particular, hitting him on the up, and he also used the different modes of sweep against the spinners productively. Javagal Srinath was once again on target; in the last six months, he has shown a lot of adaptability in his bowling. He has been criticised for lacking variation over the years, but of late he has been varying his pace well enough to outwit the batsmen.

Sachin Tendulkar
© CricInfo
Virender Sehwag
Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, who have similar mannerisms and end up confusing the onlookers, reduced Nasser Hussain to a mere spectator with a scintillating partnership. Sehwag outscored Tendulkar - a rare occurrence - and their second consecutive century stand came up in the blink of an eye. The Delhi batsman matched Tendulkar shot for shot, and Tendulkar just played second fiddle without any complaints. Sehwag's timing was outstanding, but the remarkable aspect was the way he brought common sense to his batting. There were several occasions where he had to change his shots at the last moment, bearing in mind that the ball kept low. His innings came to an end when a century was there for the taking. and he has to realise that opportunities for scoring hundreds at the highest level do not come every second day.

Tendulkar was visibly stunned by Mark Mascarenhas premature death, but such is the character of the man that he played brilliantly anyway. He remained unbeaten, and one could not have expected him to repeat the mistake of throwing his wicket away as he did at Chennai. The master blaster also tried to egg on his skipper to keep him company, but Sourav Ganguly perished in an ungainly manner just when he appeared to be hitting the ball like his old self. These are opportunities that a batsman struggling to regain form should latch on to, but the Indian skipper played one shot too many and paid the penalty. The heave was a fair indication that Ganguly is still to get his thinking processes back on track, and he has little time to waste with just two one-dayers left in the series.