India v South Africa 2: The Return of Laxman

A lot of things have happened at the worst times for India this series. Rahul Dravid is missing only his second match since his debut 14 years ago - worst possible time for that to happen. It's also the meanest thing Bangladesh has ever done to India. The worst time for the law of probability to catch up with Gambhir. The worst possible time for Paul Harris (Mindy) to turn the ball. The worst possible time for Yuvraj to finally get injured so we can replace him with someone better suited to Tests. The worst possible time for Rohit Sharma to play football. The worst possible time for the selectors to make the dumbest selection, ever. And now, ladies and gentlemen, the worst possible time for someone to stand up to the BCCI.

The pitch curator at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata has not, as was requested, prepared a raging turner that would hand India victory in three days. In fact, upon the pitch inspection, MS Dhoni said that there probably wouldn't be much turn for the first two days. Two whole days. Which means if South Africa bat first, India are pretty much buried if we go by current form. Two days, enough for South Africa to bat India out of the match - all they have to do is protect their lead.

The line-up is crucial for India. Laxman is back, but despite his awesome record at the ground (avg 81.63) he can't shoulder the batting responsibilities. Some positives could be that Sehwag and Sachin seem in decent nick, and Gambhir is unlikely to fail three innings in a row - besides, how many jaffas can Morne serve up in a row? Don't answer that. Ishant had a terrible outing, and Sreesanth, despite not having played competitive cricket of late, could get the nod - he's simply more of a threat than I-shan't Sharma. Mishra was amazingly unlucky considering how many times he beat the bat. Maybe he should turn the ball a tad less. That's horrible advice, actually - as a legspinner myself, there's nothing more satisfying than giving the ball a fair rip and watching it weave past the bat. Almost better than chocolate and taking wickets.

Anyway, the team. Badrinath, from what I saw of him, is quite Dravid-esque in his approach, so I'd suggest dropping Vijay - he's flashier and more susceptible to the Steynmeister. Badrinath should be at number three, Laxman at five and Dhoni at six, and five bowlers to follow, so it would look like this:

Dhoni (c) (wk)

That is highly unlikely, given India's traditional reluctance to play less than seven batsmen, even though Harby, Mishra and Zaheer can all bat. Plus, Steynmeister is a real tail-killer. So this is more likely:

Dhoni (c) (wk)

News from the South African camp, though, is that Graeme Smith has injured his finger. That guy's a real fighter though, and expect him to load up on the painkillers and march right onto the field. He may not have scored in the first match, but his captaincy is vital to South Africa. They still have issues with Prince and Duminy's form, and I would bet on one of them getting replaced by Alviro Peterson, but after this series - a winning team is not to be tinkered with. Boucher has a niggle, and AB can take that over which would give Peterson a game anyway. That's minor of course. Steyn and Morkel, unfortunately are in full fitness, and so are Kallis and Amla.

India will will either make a remarkable turnaround and win, or lose again. They should not, under any circumstances, play for the draw.

Wow, this looks like a lot of analysis. It really isn't.


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Oh you're harsh on poor Ishant, but otherwise awesome post. I don't have a good feeling about the Boucher :/


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I could have been harsher, but I really want him to succeed... when in form he's a Ponting-slayer :P

Well said, except...

1. Key is the dravid spot. If murali vijay plays again then VVS laxman and sachin is not ready to save team india and they only care about their spot and their stats. It is easy to score runs when conditions are benign. India can outthink SA by playing fiesty karthik at number and drop M vijay. That gives more stronger look to this indian batting.

Someone have to take that gutsy decision. i do not think anyone will do as i see everyone trying to find scapegoat for another loss. Who is better than newguy. If i am badrinath and smart and i will say no to play number 3. Badrinath should ask why VVS and sachin play number 3 when they are more experienced than me.

Because of no obvious replacement indian team is in chaos kind of.

Karhik may have screwed up million chances to cement his place but i always think he is best fighter in the team when team needs him. He is ultra confident, fidggity...he can blast off if stars aligned.


Bowling ...less said is better.

Hmm hmm. Positive gut feeling about Peterson proved right, so good to see Prince finally further down. Now when Bouch gets fit again this should be a killer batting lineup. Kallis out sucks big time though...

Oh Christ! Harbhajan just killed both the goats with a doublestrike. Oh-oh bloody Harbh!


@ alex, your rants make sense sometimes, but karthik really cannot take any place in this lineup... he doesn't have the capacity for long innings as vijay and badri do. badri is perfectly solid for the dravid spot, but vijay is going to be there regardless of what we think. your vvs and sachin bashing has no effect in anyone, we all know they have to prove nothing to no one... some thing you need to understand is you can't have all the best batsmen batting together, need to spread them out!

and bowling, well, you know what;s going on.

@ Wes, yeah haha south africa are no closer to figuring out who to keep - prince or duminy - both got out together! peterson is a keeper :)
India on top now :D :D

Ishant gets a wicket!
It is *drumroll*...
... Harris!!

Tatt Tatatatt Taa Tatt Taa Taaaaaaaaaa! :D

OK OK. I'm outta here :P


Ishant and Harby bowling well, who'd have guessed? :)

Just one more to go :D

Oh well , I am always right.

They have not proven to me that sachin and vvs are players who can play under pressure.

Anyways i went to sleep 200/1 and got up today ..voila...india almost bundled out SA for with 60+ odd runs
more. Good work.

Now the part of hard work where how sehwag and gambhir negitiate steyn. That is it. if india can put up big score , SA will be in big trouble.

It is easy to be dangerous when you have 500+ odd runs backing you up. if steyn takes wicket again tomorrow then he is really great bowler. we all should Bow to the awsome steyn!..

but something tells me sachin will make another century again. He does capitalize this kind of sitaution where bowlers are under pressure.

I think This test will be one of greatest Test. Anything is possible.

SA depends too much on Khallis like India do. if khallis gets out early and no one there to block the ball

Yee haa haa... yibbly dibbly doo! Mugambo khush hua.. Gogo khush hoinga.. aaooooo!! I stumble across your blog and whom do I see? lmao

I am amused how Alex belittles situations by claiming 'it is easy to score 500', 'it is easy to cash in after opening partnership', 'tough at 3, easiest at 4'... my mama's nunnus it is easy! You score 100s, 200s, 300s at world record speed, in toughest of situations, all in ur dreams.. dont you? Btw, isnt it how porkis fight in their dressing room?

Lol, nice opening phrase, anon

Alex is the simplest of cricket followers, who sees a result and judges it by the scorecard (correct me if I'm wrong alex, but I fear you will anyway), in his words, "he doesn't exist" but he has that fly-on-the-wall presence - it annoys you and you want to squash it, but it's doing you no harm so you just ignore it :P

Test cricket is a fighting game, and India fought, Ishant and Harby including. I've never been in a Pakistan dressing room, but going by the news, Afridi seems to attack everyone with the bat if they try to take his lunch (the ball) away from him. I assume they don't get much practice done.

May be i am telling the truth that is why annoy all sachin fans? Think!.

It is all simple really. When you see behind all the garbage , names , labels and you will see people try to find a way succeed in their own way. success in my eye is different from sachin or gavaskar's view. Their view stats are immortal , win or lose is mortal. People forget that. People always remember the stats. One way it may be true to extent , i like to see stats in winners than the people whole goal is manifest stats with complete disregard for winning or losing. Sachin is more interested in being NO than protecting tailenders and drawing teh game. it is a fact.

I don't care crap about pakistan or anyside for that matter except india.

I like people who play to win and win it with a style with arrogance. Macho behaviour!. But not stupid though. You need tremendous self confidence to do that. Sachin with all the batting exploits he was basically reaping rewards of dravid's hard work. if he is a team man he should play number 3 and protecy newbies. He won't , he is a selfish stat whore. Hope morkel brake his leg as no indian selectors will have guts to drop him. There is only way curse his arse. :D

I do not need to be anonymous to say what i think. Hahaha.

There is nothing wrong with ignoring what i say. if it hurts you should avoid and skip over. it is simple.

if it is not , challenge me with facts and prove sachin is a team man and he won for team india on his own when everyone failing in Tests.

My point is simple. Indians are obsessed with fake stats and it is not the way rest of the world works. It win win win win ...all thetime. you play to win.

In india you play to pile up useless records when no one really cared outside india.

India as such fked up society anyway. They all live in dream and forget reality. All movies are dream sequence and so that poor forget their miserable life. This is fake life. Why not smoke marijuana and shout eurekha? idiots.

All i care is if India can obsessed with winning mentality , you will automatically get into the habit of responsibility and accountability.

Every time i see sachin fans i see idiots...running like headless chickens.

your M Vijay poof. he is best fit VVS spot. I think he holds the bat hard that will invite hard edges as it happened today. But when he hit the shot , it got all the style. He is neither opening batsman nor 3rd down. He failed last test and this test also. How many chances people going to give supposed to be technical beautiful player?. Indians are obsessed with technique crap. I see and estimate people by production not style.

I feel badrinath is better 3rd down than vijay and someone has to make that decision. Anyway if everyone is back badrinath should take yuvi place not the newbie like rohit sharma or kohli.

It is really shocking to see M vijay ahead of kohli , i see both has same style but kohli has more self confidence. Kohli has to undergo more growing pains. All young indian batsman are like revolving door passengers. :D

IMHO Badri would struggle on pitches that would move around a bit. He gets opened up too easily and most quick bowlers won't mind bowling to him.

Yeah he got kinda exposed in this match, even when Steyn wasn't at his best!

In the last match, though, he looked very solid... he needs a little more time at this level.

Alex bhai, there's a blog post on you! Did you check it out? I think it is called 'All padded up'. Enjoy!

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