Ajit Agarkar has always been tipped to be the all-rounder that India is desperately searching for a long time. His ordinary batting performances have left a lot of people shaking their heads in disbelief. Added to that was the miserable run he had in Australia, which even today remains etched in the minds of cricket followers. For one who started off as a batsman in his early days, he probably has not applied himself properly in international cricket as far as his batting is concerned. Maybe he needed something to spark off the fire in him to succeed with the bat as well. If that were to be the case, it is fair to presume that his blistering innings at Rajkot should stoke the embers. That innings would have reinforced his selfconfidence that he is capable of delivering the down the order.
Agarkar beat a record of 17 years for the fastest fifty and in reaching that milestone he took India to an unimaginable score at Rajkot. The Indians would have settled for 250 after the top order failed on a superb batting pitch. Sriram, the makeshift opener triggered off the collapse with a poor shot and it is apt to mention that Sriram is better off in the middle order as his strength is in working the ball around. It is surprising that The Management thinks of him as a very attacking batsman. Tendulkar got out just as he was trying to put up a more than decent score at Rajkot and such is this game that someone like Tendulkar has got a very ordinary record on the best batting pitch in the country. Dravid looked like one who put pressure on himself, as he was leading the country for the first time.
The youngsters Badani and Sodhi did the consolidation job for India with Badani displaying excellent common sense. It took a fair bit of time before he scored his first boundary but he was maintaining a good strike rate. Sodhi grabbed his opportunity with both hands that lady luck provided him at the eleventh hour. He notched up his maiden half century and had a successful spell in the afternoon with the ball. Shewag started off confidently but missed out with an indiscreet shot. He can be a good cricketer for the shorter version of the game as he is one hell of a belter. The Zimbabwean medium pacers picked up early wickets but Agarkar towards the end of the innings marred their economy rate. Murphy picked up three wickets at a crucial juncture for Zimbabwe but the man of the day, Agarkar rewrote the entire script of the match in a matter of about half an hour.
Dravid had a lot of options and as many as six bowlers were employed. Agarkar was the pick of the lot but both Prasad and Sodhi went for quick runs in the early overs. The visitors had a brisk start with Madando showing glimpses of his potential and in the process justifying his replacing Marillier at the opening slot. Rennie had a poor tour along with Guy Whittal and the visitors needed the latter at his best to pose any threat to the hosts. Andy Flower's rare failures on this tour meant that the Zimbabwe middle order was totally out of sorts. The Indians need to be complimented on their performances even though they were not up against the strongest of sides. The youngsters have performed well and have given that bit of a secure feeling for the future. The players are back to their domestic circuit and hopefully the young players can try and iron out their deficiencies in order to better themselves and take on Australia in a couple of month's time. If this series is anything to go by for the selectors, they would do well to keep looking for young talent especially in the bowling department as the batting looks more or less established in both forms of the game.