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India deserve to be No. 1
India's rise to the top Tests, West Indies' fighting performance, and the issue with UDRS (06:49)
December 14, 2009
Related Links » Players/Officials: Kemar Roach | Virender Sehwag Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of New Zealand | West Indies tour of Australia | Sri Lanka tour of India Teams: England | India | New Zealand | Pakistan | South Africa | Sri Lanka
The Tony Greig Show
India deserve to be No. 1December 14, 2009
India's rise to the top spot in Tests
India have become the No. 1 ranked Test side in the world, but it is worth pondering whether or not they have played well enough to justify that ranking. The answer is that they have, but it is also fair to say that this Indian team has not had to play against a hot Australian team. Let's face it, being number one in any sport is to a degree dependent on the opposition. Then again, when the oppression is weak it's not the fault of the champion.
There is little doubt as well that the very ordinary performance by Sri Lanka in the Tests helped India. Kumar Sangakkara and his team were, prior to the series, considered one of the strongest Sri Lankan sides to visit India, yet they capitulated meekly. It seems to me that they underestimated how quickly the Indian batsmen have worked Ajantha Mendis out, and also how much better they play Muttiah Muralitharan. That along with Sri Lanka's dismal performances abroad ensured an easy victory for India.
There is absolutely no reason why they should not be every bit as good playing away. It must have become a psychological problem because I have not been able to identify any meaningful technical faults. It may be that their good performances in the Twenty20 campaign in India will translate to similar results in the ODIs, and this could in turn help in the long term. Mind you, don't let us forget the impact of the innings played by Virender Sehwag. At his best he is capable of undoing the best laid plans.
Shewag falls short of history
Virender Sehwag was on the verge of becoming the only batsman in Test cricket history to make three triple centuries in Tests before he was dismissed for 293 in the third Test against Sri Lanka. Apart from Don Bradman, Sehwag has to be the most destructive batsman the game has seen. The combination of his average and strike rate vouches for this to a degree, but if we were to ask the Test bowlers, they, I am certain would confirm that Sehwag on his day is nothing short of a bowlers worst nightmare.
Having said this, any batsman who goes about his business in such an attacking fashion is on occasions going to disappoint. Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting are great players, but they are more orthodox than Sehwag. As a result, there will be many who would rather watch Sehwag go about his business than anyone else.
West Indies' tour of Australia
It's hardly surprising that the West Indies put on a much improved show in the second Test against Australia. Any team that turns up in Australia just before the first Test at the Gabba is asking for trouble. Add to this the unfortunate problems confronted by Chris Gayle who had to fly 44,000 kilometres to be with his sick mother, and it is not a surprise to me that they lost in three days.
Adelaide was a different matter, and it was refreshing to see the West Indies give the Aussies a little bit of a scare. Dwayne Bravo and Brendon Nash gave West Indies the start they needed on a wonderful Test pitch, but it has become clear in Adelaide that the Aussie attack is a shadow of its former self and they are going to find that taking 20 wickets to win Tests is going to be hard. It's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that the West Indies can sustain their form going into the third Test in Perth, despite the pitch having a reputation for bounce. If Kemar Roach can refrain from trying to hit all the Aussies in the head he will be a handful, as he is an impressive and young fast bowler.
Australia are also starting to doubt Michael Hussey and to a lesser extent Marcus North, local media are starting to talk up giving youngsters like Phil Hughes, Shaun Marsh and Callum Ferguson a chance. This won't happen in Perth, but it will create extra pressure on Hussey and North. As a result, could provide Pakistan's much better pace attack with an unexpected opportunity when they arrive in Australia for the Boxing Day Test.
Pakistan's tour of New Zealand
Pakistan's attack of Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul and Danish Kaneria were simply too much for New Zealand in the second Test. But it's a credit to New Zealand and their ability to bounce back that they managed to level the series in Wellington. In the first Test, it was Shane Bond at his very best backed up by a 'never say die' team who are superbly led by Daniel Vettori.
In the decider in Napier, it has been more of the same from the Kiwis with Ian O'Brien and Darryl Tuffey creating havoc. Had it not been for Imran Farhat's century, things may have been worse. Vettori, Brendon McCullum and Tuffey then saw to it that New Zealand took a handy lead of 248 into the second innings. At the time of recording, Pakistan are fighting back but have a long way to go.
This is Iain O'Brien's last Test and he will be missed. Any bowler who has toured New Zealand knows that every team needs an into the wind bowler, particularly in New Zealand. Places like the Basin Reserve are notorious for almost gale force winds. O'Brien has done those hard yards for New Zealand with distinction, and someone will have to step up and take over.
England's tour of South Africa
England's victory in the one day series in South Africa was a tremendous effort but the Tests are certain to be a different matter. True, the availability and form of certain key players like Jacques Kallis and Kevin Petersen could swing the series either way, but I am still of the view that this will be a tight series. Both the teams have good leaders and plenty of ability, so it may just be that the temperament of the teams will decide the series. South Africa is a tough team to beat at home, and there supporters can make the opposition feel vulnerable.
The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) will be used, and the more I see of it the more it is becoming clear that the team that uses it best will have an advantage. So far bad decisions have, in the main, been eliminated. But we have a long way to go before we perfect the process. A first step could be to eliminate the involvement of the players and leave the whole process up to the umpires.
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