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Though the tour ended in disappointment for India, there were a couple positives for them to go home with, namely the aggressive intent displayed by Sreesanth and Dinesh Karthik, who did not back away from a contest
January 8, 2007
No one gave India much of a chance going into the Tests, yet they went 1-0 up in emphatic fashion. Though the tour ended in disappointment for India, there were a couple of positives for them to go home with, namely the aggressive intent displayed by Sreesanth and Dinesh Karthik, who did not back away from a contest.
Was outstanding in the opening two Tests, bowling with pace and immense control. The experts raved about his use of the seam, and he got wonderful shape on the ball leaving the right-handers. A couple of entertaining knocks with the bat, including that six off Andrè Nel, but he has to watch his emotions on the field if he isn't to invite excessive attention from officials who would rather not have characters in the game.
Was an excellent foil for Sreesanth with the new ball. Hostile, accurate and unlucky at times, he finished with 13 wickets, including three on the final day when he alone looked like making things happen. Showed plenty of heart with the bat. An excellent comeback from someone whose international career could have been over after a wretched Pakistan tour.
Combined beautifully with Jaffer at the top of the order in Cape Town, and showed an excellent range of shots when moved down to the middle order for the second innings. Never took a backward step and was always energetic and efficient behind the stumps. Even if Dhoni takes back the gloves, a place has to be found for such combative characters in the Test side.
They promised to target him with the short ball, and they did. But though he looked distinctly ungainly at times, Ganguly never shied away from the contest. His unbeaten 51 at Wanderers got his tour off to the perfect start, and though he had a nightmare in Durban, he finished strongly with 66 and 46 at Newlands. If only he could stop steering the ball to gully.
After a disastrous start at the Wanderers, Jaffer got his tour back on tracks with two composed 20s in Durban. The shot that he played to get dismissed on the final afternoon might have earned him the sack in another time, but he made full use of the team management's faith to register a superb century at Newlands. Needs to improve his alertness on the field.
Bowled the most overs on either side, and finished with 14 wickets, but flunked his biggest test, on the final day at Newlands. Didn't appear comfortable bowling into the rough from round the wicket, and failure to sparkle in Cape Town will rank alongside Mohali 2005 in his list of disappointing performances. There haven't been too many of them.
Scored a vital 73 in the second innings at the Wanderers, and had to bat well with the tail again in the second Test. But crucial second-innings failures followed, though he was extremely good in the slip cordon.
Made a crucial 44 at the Wanderers and his first half-centuries in over a year at Kingsmead and Newlands. But on both occasions, he failed in the second innings when it was imperative that he didn't. Took some good catches at slip, but the crucial drop of Ashwell Prince at Durban had a huge impact on the series. His spin bowling was perhaps underutilised.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Kept bravely at Durban despite very sore fingers, and showed plenty of gumption with the bat despite his technical shortcomings against the bouncer being all too apparent. Spoke of cutting out the cover-drive that kept getting him out, and showed a willingness to adapt to alien conditions.
Acquitted himself well enough at the Wanderers, but wasn't effective at Kingsmead, where his lack of experience was all too apparent. Certainly has the raw pace to trouble the best, but a little variety wouldn't go amiss.
Got a couple of poor decisions, but his failure to replicate the run-feasts of the past few seasons was the main reason for India's failure to clinch the series. The broken finger from the one-day series prevented him fielding at slip, and his captaincy was ordinary on the final day with the series up for grabs. A series destined to be remembered for his slow crawl with Tendulkar on the fourth afternoon at Cape Town.
Took some superb catches, chanced his way to 33 at the Wanderers and then made 40 from the middle order in Cape Town. The rest of the time, he was a sitting duck against the new ball, a far cry from the intimidating and unflustered batsman who terrorised opening bowlers not so long ago.
An ankle injury ruled him out of the first two Tests, and he looked well below peak fitness in Cape Town, where he bowled only one over in the second innings. Nothing less than a liability on the field, he needs to do some intense work on the fitness and athleticism side of things.
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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