The Indians started their series against the Zimbabweans at the Feroz Shah Kotla under the new coach, John Wright. The coach might be fresh and new but at the moment the captain seems to have the ear of the coach as the Indians once again have gone with just four bowlers. Five bowlers were played against Bangladesh but the good old policy of safety first seems to have prevailed on the home soil. It is understandable that the captain does not want to take chances but playing a bowler short conveys a lot to the opponents. The Zimbabweans would have been anxious as they know that the Indians are formidable at home and their primary concern would have been to play for a draw. The Indians also seem to desire the same if the eleven picked is anything to go by.
Zimbabwe won the toss and were positive enough to bat as the conditions might have tempted the visiting captain to insert the Indians. Srinath dismissed the openers in a jiffy and it was good to see him back in the fold. He has had a rest before he came into this test but it is difficult for any cricketer to get into the groove straight away. The Test in Bangladesh has definitely helped him to get back into his stride and he was the pick of the Indian bowlers yesterday at the Kotla. He would have had another wicket or two if the close-in catchers were alert. A couple of chances were floored in the first session of a test match and it will be only fair to say that the Indians were very ordinary on the field.
Campbell is one of the main batsmen for the visiting side and he was involved in a century partnership with Carlisle. These two batsmen consolidated the innings after the early wickets and Carlisle played a poor shot just as the partnership was beginning to assume dangerous proportions. Sachin Tendulkar it was who effected the breakthrough and it is beyond comprehension that Tendulkar is looked upon as one of the bowling options in a Test match. Campbell was in touch and he was the batsmen India needed to dismiss early. It is surprising that a player of his ability is yet to get a Test century and he was looking good enough to get one on the opening day. Srinath coming back for his second spell had him with a delivery which straightened after pitching and Campbell missed out on yet another opportunity to get a hundred.
The game swung back and forth like a pendulum with the Indians dismissing both Campbell and Carlisle in quick succession. Whittal, the dependable all rounder was unfortunate to be adjudged caught and his departure left the Zimbabweans looking down the barrel. Streak, the visiting captain, along with Andy Flower fought back and they adopted their own methods to deprive the Indians further success. Andy does like the Indian attack and he will be the thorn in the flesh for the home team. Streak played an uncharacteristic innings realising the need of the hour as he is basically one who likes to play his shots. Flower on the other hand played the sweep shot with panache to upset the line of the spinners but one must remember that he was playing with the spin.
It has to be said that the Indians could not run press home the advantage as the bowling attack lacked penetration barring the seamers. Joshi was steady at the most and though he picked up a wicket, he did not give the impression that he ever would run through the side. Karthik was made to bowl over the wicket which is strange to see on the opening of the Test match. Karthik at the moment does not have his captain's confidence which makes his job twice as difficult. To compound his problems the last thing he needs is his captain asking him to adopt negative tactics.
The Indians have to get early wickets on the morrow and they will have the option of taking the new cherry. The overnight pair has to be separated quickly as the visitors have a long tail with just Paul Strang capable of batting a bit. There will be some swing for the medium pacers in the morning as the conditions are rather heavy in Delhi. Going by the proceedings so far, Srinath and Agarkar are the ones who will be relied upon to do the trick.