December 16, 2001

White shines bright in India

India's thumping win at Mohali reinforced the perception that the visitors might lose all the three Tests in the series. But even though this is one of the weakest English teams to visit India, they are a bunch of determined players always willing to learn fast. And they went ahead to prove almost everybody wrong at Ahmedabad.

Nasser Hussain
Nasser Hussain
© CricInfo
The Motera realities are something that the Indians will try to forget as soon as possible. England controlled the first four days of the Test match, defying all odds and putting up a spirited show, which almost blew India away. I am most impressed by Nasser Hussain's captaincy; he reminds me so much of Tiger Pataudi, remarkably calm and collected, and when it matters most - being very aggressive.

I have only respect for the English skipper; the way he has used his limited bowling resources is simply amazing. Any other captain would have resorted to match saving tactics; Hussain always retains the positive outlook, which has added a new dimension to this Test series.

I am absolutely sure that there would have been many advisers in the Indian camp, who would have shared their wisdom with the captain, on what to do and what not to, if the Indian bowling were to be so limited. Hussain and his team, despite this severe handicap, though had a clear game plan where India lacked one and this allowed the Englishmen to dominate through the Test match.

Craig White
Craig White
© CricInfo
If I were to pick one player from this English squad, it has to be Craig White. I had mentioned in one of my previous column that White is the man to watch out for. When I look at his game through a bowler's eye, all I see is a batsman who is studying the bowler and reading the bowler's intention, which on any day is a tell-tale sign of sheer class. I am pretty sure that White has a fair idea of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble's bowling. His first Test hundred was due to the never-say-die approach he brings to the game. The Bangalore Test will witness more of this intelligent cricketer.

The second Test exposed the limitations of Dasgupta's wicket-keeping. In my opinion, he is not allowing the ball to come on to him, instead he is trying to snatch it. The young keeper's footwork is also leaden and it seems that he is not rising up with the delivery. Dasgupta gives the impression that he is a bit too cramped and stressed behind the stumps.

Sharandeep Singh
Sharandeep Singh
© AFP
Once again Kumble and Harbhajan Singh proved that they are more than a handful in Indian conditions. It is about time that the other young off-spinner Sarandeep Singh is given an opportunity to play at the highest level.

Ashley Giles is a class act, bowling an exceptional line and length. All his wickets were due to his faith in keeping the basics simple. If Richard Dawson can support him well in Bangalore, we might have yet another close contest in the final Test.

As for the Indian batting, it was Sachin Tendulkar who rescued the faltering first innings. In the second essay, Shiv Sunder Das and Dasgupta applied themselves very well.

Going in to the Bangalore Test, the biggest factor that will weigh in the final outcome is the newly laid wicket at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. What it holds is just anybody's guess, as no one really knows how it is going to behave. It will be sad if the wicket starts calling the shots in deciding the quality of the game played and the final result.