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Sharandeep Singh should have been played

Andy Flower was in full bloom once again at the Feroz Shah Kotla as he exposed the limitations of the Indian attack. His innings ensured that Zimbabwe in all probability will not lose the Test unless they bat very badly in the second essay.

Andy Flower has been the backbone of the Zimbabwe batting line up for years and he is one of the best batsmen in world cricket today. His marathon effort was described in contradictory fashion. While Ganguly, the Indian captain rated Flower's innings as one of the best he has seen, the modest wicket-keeper batsman felt that his effort was `ugly' though it served the purpose of his team.

Srinath dismissed Heath Streak of the very first ball on the second day but the lack of penetration of the Indian bowlers was evident as Andy Flower really rubbed it in with great efficiency. He rallied well with the latter half of the Zimbabwe batsmen and he frustrated the Indians to such extent that Ganguly was left kicking the ground with uncontrollable ire. The fielding of the Indian side was not exceptional and the dropped catches proved to be very expensive. As the Zimbabwe innings was stretched beyond tea on the second day, the Indian captain might have wondered about his decision of playing only bowlers. With him not really even seriously acknowledging the existence of Kartik Murali, he virtually is relying on only three frontline bowlers to do the job.

It is beyond comprehension as to why Sharandeep Singh, the off-spinner was not played when one considers that the main batsmen for Zimbabwe, Campbell and Andy Flower are left handers. Even if that logic is not taken cognizance of, the obvious lack of confidence in Kartik Murali must have urged the skipper to include the off-spinner. In the end the Zimbabweans put up a total which was highly competitive. Henry Olonga, the fast bowler must have noted the second day of the Test match in his diary to show his grandchildren as he played the longest innings in his career so far.

The Indian batsmen had a task on their hands and they had to bat well in order to stay in the match. Ramesh was out-thought by the Zimbabwean skipper Heath Streak when he trapped him leg before the wicket. Ramesh has the tendency to play across the line at times early in his innings and that little weakness was exploited by Streak.

Shiv Sunder Das, the little opener from Orissa, showed that he has the temperament and the technique to play at the highest level as he notched up a sensible half century. He may well be the answer for the problem India has had with regard to an opening batsman.

Dravid and Tendulkar put up a record partnership and they both batted in a contrasting manner. Dravid played shots immediately on arrival at the crease while Tendulkar looked very determined to play a long innings. They found strokeplay difficult once the ball got older and the second new ball, taken towards the fag end of the third day, would have welcomed by the duo. A lot depends on these two if India are to make a match of it on the fourth day. It also remains to be seen if the Indians adopt positive tactics and try achieve a victory.

The onus is on the home team because the Indians are expected to win at home and the visiting side has a moderate record in Test cricket. Ganguly has shown that he would like to be the boss on the field but he has to be absolutely positive for his colleagues to follow. The Zimbabwe bowling attack is inexperienced with the exception of Streak and the Indians will be subjected to criticism if they don't hustle in the last two days of the Test match. A victory may not be achieved but the effort has to be made which of course is not asking for the moon.