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Indians in position to dictate course

Sourav Ganguly won the toss on a belter of a pitch and the Indians made full use of it on the opening day of the second Test at the VCA ground at Nagpur

Woorkheri Raman
Sourav Ganguly won the toss on a belter of a pitch and the Indians made full use of it on the opening day of the second Test at the VCA ground at Nagpur. The openers Das and Ramesh provided a good start with Ramesh dominating the attack. He was in good touch and executed a few exquisite drives on the off side. Just when he was looking set for a big score a poor judgement brought about his dismissal. Heath Streak, the Zimbabwe skipper threw down the stumps at the nonstriker's end with Ramesh short of his crease. Ramesh has only himself to blame as it was his call and he would have been kicking himself in the dressing room watching every Indian batsman make the most of the friendly conditions.
Shiv Sunder Das, the compact opener from Orissa, got his maiden century in only his third Test. He was slow to start off which is understandable when one considers that he was playing for his career. Once he settled down he cut fiercely against the medium pacers and he also used his feet well against the spinners to play some classic drives in front of the wicket. He was unfortunate to be adjudged caught at slip but he played an innings of character displaying fine temperament and decisive footwork. He is a player for the future and he is also the answer for the selectors with regard to the opener's slot.
Dravid is having a whale of a time in this series as he once again tormented the Zimbabwe attack. He is one who does not let go of opportunities and he is cashing in on his good form. He was severe on anything short and with the visitors lacking discipline in their bowling it was all there to be had. The ruthless nature in Dravid came to the fore as he methodically squashed any hopes the Zimbabweans might have entertained. He was in such control that he was hardly troubled by any bowler. He is set to score another century and his presence at the crease will be a nightmare for the visitors. So much so that Dravid slowed down towards the closing stages which is an indication of his hunger for runs.
Tendulkar gave the impression that he was more keen on grinding the attack by playing in a very restrained manner. He was trying to ensure that he did not get out to the leg spinner as did happen in both the innings at Delhi. I get the impression that he would come out in the morning and fire on all cylinders as the new ball was taken late in the evening. The hardness of the ball will definitely facilitate driving on the up and one can see Tendulkar play some majestic drives in the first hour of the second day.
The Indians have included five bowlers in this Test by capping Sharandeep Singh and bringing in the latest product of the MRF Pace Foundation, Zaheer Khan. Laxman and Kartik were dropped and I personally feel sorry for Laxman as he finds himself in no man's land. His decision to play in the middle order has backfired on him badly and with Das cementing his place at least temporarily, Laxman is bound to be left in the lurch.
The hosts are in a commanding position and it is upto them to dictate the course of the match. They have to get their runs quickly enough to give time for the bowlers to bowl the opponents out twice. The pitch being totally in favour of the batsmen, it will be very hard work for the bowlers. Then of course that is what international cricket is all about and the bowlers have to be positive in order to bowl India to victory.