Eden proves to be paradise after all

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2005, 11:01 [IST]
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The last time the two countries met at Eden Gardens, Pakistan won the toss, elected to bat, and won. In the process, they also negated Srinath's 13-wicket haul. In the final stretch, Shoaib Akhtar led the way for a Pakistani triumph.

This time, Eden Gardens proved to be paradise for India. Winning the toss was important. Ganguly, remembering the aforementioned Test match, elected to bat. Then, Rahul Dravid answered the clarion call and scored two centuries. Anil Kumble took a 10 plus wicket haul for the match. If any stone was left unturned in that win, it was Sachin not getting a 35th century. That, however, is not a major setback, for Sachin is a seasoned veteran albeit 31, and will get that milestone soon.

Also, thanks must go to the Indian think tank who decided to go to Eden with 2 pacers and 2 spinners as opposed to the 3 - 1 combination. It was a gutsy, though not difficult, choice to leave Zaheer Khan out of the equation. He was all out of sorts towards the end of the first Test. Zaheer should have known that he could not afford to dilly dally around with Balaji back in full swing after a long layoff. Balaji performed when it mattered most and deservedly got a spot in the playing eleven. Irfan Pathan is definitely a better option that Ashish Nehra or Ajit Agarkar. He can bat and bowl well, but is not all-rounder material yet.

Regarding the erroneous decision against Sachin in the second innings - well, these things happen. We should not forget the reprieve he got in the first Test when he was just on 8, an inside edge resulting in a bat-pad catch that was not awarded. Sachin went on to make 94, and has 3 fifties to his credit in this series. Not bad for a batsman who has been out of action for a long time.

Rahul Dravid - what can we say? It is high time that Sachin learn to take second place behind this hardworking fellow who rarely comes up short. He may well become the next batsman to score 2 centuries in a Test on three occasions like Sunil Gavaskar. He may, however, have to share that spot with Matthew Hayden who I foresee as the next to reach the same milestone.

Anil Kumble showed he still has a lot to offer for India in the Test cricket realm. His goal of reaching 500 Test wickets is very reachable. He is the second most senior player in the squad. Pity he can't find his way back to the ODI eleven. But then so couldn't the great Steve Waugh for his country.

As for the rest of the Indian team players, Veeru has the most runs in the ongoing series and we look forward to another explosive innings from him. Sachin needs to just score runs and the 35th will not be too far. Ganguly needs to perk up his batting since many are noticing his backward slide. Hopefully, Harbhajan will be cleared soon.

Dinesh Kaarthick said that he wanted to do an "Akmal" in the recently concluded Test and fell just 7 runs shy. Way to go Dinesh! Keep setting reasonable goals for yourself because you seem determined to reach them and not just talk the talk but walk the walk.

A 2 - 0 series win is definitely achievable and the number 2 spot on the ICC Test rankings. Hopefully, the Indian team will not feel that they are "full" now. They still need to be "hungry" because the Pakistanis' stomachs are definitely growling with pangs of hunger for a series-leveling win. Let this series be an Eden in many ways including Edenic hospitality for the visitors.

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