Wait for the first Test egg to hatch

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, October 7, 2004, 13:00 [IST]
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Australia showed amazing composure in the recovery they made on the first day of the first Test. Hopefully the Indians were taking notes because when their chance comes to bat, I personally feel that they'll capitulate like ninepins in a bowling alley. We have seen that happen a lot more often than them standing up like a formidable fortress.

Accordingly, the media now talks of the Indian batting lineup in the right light, i.e. they are the best batting lineup "on paper" and not in reality. We have already seen the results of their ODI matches sans Tendulkar and a repeat is inevitable in this series too if the Indians don't wise up.

One does not have to look too far in history as to how the Indian team performed without the services of Sachin Tendulkar. Their last visit to Sri Lanka in 2001 is ample evidence of a Tendulkarless Indian squad. It was amazing how Ganguly took the bull by the horns to help India level that series in the second Test. However, the inevitable could not be avoided - a tame Indian foldup in the final Test where Murali ran through the Indian side like a conflagration in a petrol station. True, the Indians did make a comeback, but in the end had no wherewithal to hold a candle to the Sri Lankans.

This time it is an Australian team on a mission. That mission is to bring home what their illustrious former skipper Steve Waugh never did, win a series in India - their final frontier. From the looks of it, Sachin Tendulkar may miss the whole series and maybe even the South Africa series. Make no mistake; a tennis elbow is not a minor injury. Ask any tennis player that question. What makes Sachin's recovery a difficult one is that his frame has already broken down by years of overuse. And an already weak physical framework does little in aiding for a speedy recovery. We know the reason he missed the aforementioned Sri Lanka tour, a broken thumb in his foot.

All the Indians have to do is win by a margin of one Test to become the second best team in Test cricket. But, will the Indians accomplish that if the Aussies draw first blood? We need not look any further than the last time the Aussies traveled to India. After winning the first Test by 10 wickets, the Indians made a superb recovery in the second to win and in the process give the Aussies the dubious distinction of being the only team to have lost a Test on two occasions after making the opposition follow on. They then wrapped up the third Test despite some anxious moments in the end. Harbhajan working without Kumble by his side earned the nickname "Turbanator" from the Aussie press for his destructive bowling. The Indian squad should not forget those achievements and let them pale into insignificance.

In conclusion, let us not count the chickens before the first Test egg hatches. This way no one will have egg on their faces instead. If the Aussies win the series, that would only be expected of a number one team. If the Indians do, the critics can say what they want (they played at home that is why they won), but team India will have proved once and for all that with or without Tendulkar, they have the will to do well. And that folks is what a number two or for that matter a number one team is made of. Australia are certainly showing that as of now without the services of Ponting. Can the Indians do the same and put themselves in the same bracket as the Aussies? It solely depends on team India.

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