The composition of the Indian team was perfectly fine. Three seamers, two spinners and five regular batsmen is reasonable cricket thinking. Routine, if you like it. Winning the toss and inserting the opposition is also quite routine cricket logic. Except that when the decision backfires, as it appeared to have done at the Wankhede Stadium, the captain becomes a very lonely person. I wish I could sympathise with Rahul. Yes, it was his 100th Test, but the guests seemed to be running away with the party.
The hot and humid conditions in Mumbai are trying indeed. Bowling and fielding in such oppressive environment is a torture if wickets are difficult to come by. Test cricket can be an arduous vocation.
Watching Test cricket in such poor conditions is equally testing.
Some of the BCCI officials can afford to cater for spectator comfort now that the finances are over-flowing. The minimum that a playing onlooker deserves is a fan over his head and hygienic conditions to park his bum. The working conditions in the radio commentary box are well below the poverty line. Did someone mention cricket is sold well in India?
My personal experience at Mohali and again in Wankhede has not been very exciting. Remember running cricket and playing cricket are two different propositions wherein ground involvement has a distinct role to play. So has the media. All this and more are the direct concerns of cricket administration. You cannot truly say you like cricket unless you care for the overall health of the sport.
Reverting to actual cricket, could this be a genuine error of judgement or shades of cockiness on the part of Team India management? I am referring to the decision of fielding first. It appears the Indians have discovered a couple of demon fast bowlers overnight. Please let us not kid ourselves.
If the aim is to start thinking of winning abroad, do so by all means. But why miss out on winning at home? Had India battes first, England with their low morale would have succumbed no doubt. But now the English fellas can just see a ray of hope of squaring the series. There is still a lot of cricket to be played at the Wankhede in very un-friendly conditions. Middlesex twins Andrew Strauss and debutant Owais Shah have been given England a new lease of life in the Test series and maybe loads of fresh impetus for the one dayers to follow.
Having expressed my disgust with the Indian decision to field first, I must confess that the appointment of Rahul Dravid as captain till the World Cup 2007 is a wise move by many a mile.
Sometimes, when almost everything is wrong, one thing is so right you would do it all again and again. Yes Rahul Dravid deserves to lead India in the next World Cup. He is bound to improve at every bend. His intuitive power to think like a bowler is yet to bloom. So far his own batting and that of his batting colleagues have flourished under his stewardship.
Bowlers too have seen happy days under Rahul, Kumble especially. Some of the young fast bowlers need to have total faith in their captain. The bowling tribe needs to utilise not just 10 per cent brains but also 10 per cent of their hearts. A sincere, balanced and kind attitude towards ourselves as well as others is the key to human understanding in all avenues of our existence.