Dropping Ganguly was a brave decision

Written by: Javagal Srinath
Published: Sunday, January 22, 2006, 13:56 [IST]
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In cricket, the local body holds the authority to decide on the type of wicket to be prepared on their ground.

So, automatically the host team always has some degree of participation in preparing the pitch. Usually, groundsmen heed to their request to try and prepare a pitch to the liking of the home team. There had been a few occasions where the local cricket body or the groundsmen did not co-operate with the home team, though.

The first instance that comes to my mind is the India-Australia Test at Nagpur. On few occasions, the former ground-in-charge in Mumbai was cold to the request of the home team. But the crux of the matter is that groundsmen in the sub-continent are usually not professionally qualified to understand the nature of the pitch. The home team might ask for a certain kind of pitch and may end up getting something totally different.

While preparing the pitches here, the groundsmen usually rely on their gut feelings than any concrete knowledge. So, holding the curators responsible for preparing any kind of pitches makes little sense.

The Lahore pitch has already made the Faisalabad groundsman a hero for no apparent reason. The irony is that the Faisalabad curator perhaps was interviewed more than any cricketer by various newspapers and television channels, who sought his views on how the pitch would behave.

The Indian think-tank made yet another brave decision by dropping Ganguly and breaking from the traditional ways. Ganguly must be wondering what wrong he did to be left out of the second Test.

Maybe he should have volunteered himself to open the innings at Lahore and got a big score to secure his place in the side. Sourav cannot deny the fact that the Lahore Test did offer him a great chance to open the innings. If he wanted it badly, he should have pressed his case little harder to walk in with Sehwag at Lahore.

The Faisalabad wicket looked slightly better than Lahore strip and it made both the teams think harder about the combination. The Indians going with five bowlers made a lot of sense. In fact, India playing with three seamers had become a rarity of late. R P Singh became the real beneficiary as he made a successful debut. To me, watching all the three left armers operating was a refreshing sight.

R P Singh has not played many games. Sitting in the reserves for too long can certainly force a youngster pick up a few bad habits. It's never easy for a youngster when he is picked in the side without getting a chance to play.

Skipper Rahul Dravid always says that R P Singh has something more than what he appears to have in him. Striking early in the innings to get the first wicket was important.

A youngster needs to impress the captain all the time. The lifeless pitch in the last Test did not instill too many positives in the minds of the fast bowlers. The first Test wicket always brings the sense of belongingness at the highest level.

Irfan Pathan on the other hand has found himself struggling on slow wickets. Adaptability is the key factor in fast bowling. Irfan looks tremendous on helpful wickets but he does not even look a patch of his own self on flat tracks. It is that extra yard of pace that he needs to add to his bowling. It's not about being strong to be able to bowl fast. It is also the action which keeps refining itself over a period of time.

Irfan has to keep a watch on bowling to see if he is increasing his pace. He does everything right both with the new and the old ball but for that threshold pace.

The rate at which the Pakistani batsmen are scoring does not help the cause of the bowlers. Pakistan has started well again, but the pendulum could swing either way.

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