The experts review the action

'Dravid's solidity was the hallmark'

Sanjay Manjrekar looks back at the action in the third Test between India and New Zealand in Nagpur (07:43)

November 22, 2010

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India v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Nagpur, 3rd day

'Dravid's solidity was the hallmark'

November 22, 2010

Rahul Dravid scored his second century of the series, India v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Nagpur, 3rd day, November 22, 2010
Manjrekar: "This innings showed the Rahul Dravid of old, the one we have got accustomed to seeing, who looks very solid" © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to ESPNcricinfo. Joining me is Sanjay Manjrekar to look back on the action so far in Nagpur.

Sanjay, New Zealand have battled hard so far in this series, but really, it was that first day in this Test that has proved to be their undoing. India is really in the driver's seat here…

Sanjay Manjrekar: Yes, they won the toss and elected to bat first but getting out under 200 was not a good start. All they needed was another Indian batting collapse because that is something that has happened; the Indian batting has not clicked as they would have liked in this series, but it is too much to expect this Indian batting to fail all the time. They batted well and that 193 from New Zealand is looking very miniscule now.

AR: The loss of Zaheer Khan was a big blow, but looking at the way Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth performed in the first innings…some positive signs for India?

SM: Absolutely. It was a great opportunity to see Ishant and Sreesanth bowling at the same time so that we would get instant comparison between them. That was a positive. Sreesanth started off beautifully. It has been a while since I have seen a new-ball bowler get the kind of wickets that Sreesanth did. The first two wickets he got were beautiful with the batsmen looking to play defensively. That is one of the advantages he has; he has a stock, wicket-taking delivery which is a ball that seams away from the right-hander. His rhythm in this series has been good and I hope it stays this way for the South Africa tour. If bowls in this fashion there, he will trouble a few South African batsmen on those pitches.

Ishant wasn't ready to take a back seat to Sreesanth. He got four wickets; couple of them were fortuitous but he has come out and he has bent his back and bowled with a lot of spirit. But between the two, if I had to pick who has been the better seamer in the last few months and who I would go with, it would be Sreesanth.

AR: Rahul Dravid making 191 … there was some talk surrounding Dravid before the start of this series, but he looks to be getting closer and closer to gaining fluency…

SM: You have got to look at two sides of the story. There is talk of how well the batsmen have batted but you have also got to look at the conditions. They are playing against one of the moderate bowling attacks on pretty flat pitches, so looking at Dravid's form, or him not being in form doesn't quite make sense to me. He is such a class player, that had he failed against this bowling attack, it wouldn't have been a confirmation that that he is losing his touch. But now that he has got two hundreds it is not that he has come back to his best or is the batsmen, who like Sachin Tendulkar, has got his second wind. Dravid will get runs, he is that kind of a batsman. Especially in these conditions against this kind of an attack, it is difficult for an out-of-form Dravid not to get runs.

However, what we have seen in this innings is that technically he looks in pretty good shape. He got a hundred earlier, but he still wasn't that compact or technically-sound Dravid that we have grown to watch. This innings showed the Dravid of old, the one we have got accustomed to seeing, who looks very solid. That was the hallmark of this innings and that augurs well for the real challenge that will come shortly - batting at No 3 against South Africa in those conditions.

AR: MS Dhoni too hasn't been among the runs recently … he missed out on a hundred here, but what did you make of his approach?

SM: What happened today was excellent for Dhoni; he has been out of form as a batsman, but his wicketkeeping has been good and his captaincy has been decent but his batting has let him down. But what has been heartening in this series is to have seen Indian batsmen coming up with different things, learning from past experiences. We are seeing the spinners finally bowl full in length and in that same vein we saw Dhoni come out today and think differently. There was clear evidence that he had told himself that he would play his shots and react to the merit of the ball, rather than the merit of the situation.

Very often Dhoni has shaped his attitude and game according to the situation today he decided he would bat the way he normally bats and react to the ball. Once he had changed that attitude his innings was flowing, that put pressure on the opposition. After that it was a commanding performance from him. He missed a hundred but that innings should give him a world of confidence and that should helps him as he prepares for the sterner South Africa test. So his confidence as a batsman after things innings would have jumped high.

AR: Couple of questions to round things off … firstly, what did you make of the timing of the declaration and secondly… the pitch is acting up; now the Zealand batsman have batted well in this series, but do you see them being able to last over two days?

New Zealand will find it tough because this is a different pitch. The last two pitches were slow pitches; the ball was turning but it was ever so slow. This pitch is a lot harder and the ball is spinning sharply

SM: I am not fussed with the timing of the declaration because there is plenty of time left in this Test. You could argue that the tailenders could have scored a bit quicker; Ishant was practicing his leave-alone shot in the innings so that was quite funny and defied logic. But India had enough time to pressure on New Zealand today and they got a wicket.

New Zealand will find it tough because this is a different pitch. The last two pitches were slow pitches; the ball was turning but it was ever so slow. This pitch is a lot harder and the ball is spinning sharply. The new ball was spinning for Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha in that last session. The spin is not going to be slow and that is going to be the real test. The New Zealand batsmen will put up a fight; we have seen that in the past. But this is going to be their toughest challenge against the Indian spinners. The surface is different, the ball is turning sharply and it is a real bonus for the Indian spinners in this Test.

AR:Thanks Sanjay for your views

Posted by Mark00 on (November 22, 2010, 18:49 GMT)

Cricinfo has butchered Manjrekar's words with it's typically poor editing.

Manjrekar spoke correctly:

"...solidity was the hallmark of this innings."

Cricinfo butchered it into:

"...solidity was the hallmark."

Please, Cricinfo, hire an editor for an internationally read english language website that knows how to form a sentence in English.

Posted by Nampally on (November 22, 2010, 16:08 GMT)

Thanks for very fitting comments, Sanjay. After rather poor first hour in which India lost 3 wickets for about 35 runs, India recovered brilliantly to finish at 566 for 8. Fine partnership between Dravid & Dhoni paved the way. Unfortunately each missed a double hundred and a century. Dravid now leads Bradman in centuries. At least this boosts the confidence of the team which showed up for the first time in batting except for VVS and Raina. Raina is very low in confidence and it is best to give him rest and play Pujara instead. India is well poised for an innings win if the pitch continues to turn. Ojha will lead the way and even Bhaiji might have something to cheer about after his poor form. Jai Ho, India.

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