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India missing Laxman, Ganguly
November 23, 2006
The way South Africa went off the block, especially with the ball in the second game, was tremendous. If that's the standard they are going to set, then it's going to be the trend in the Tests as well.
It makes me think that India is a batsman or two short on this trip. It's unbelievable that VVS Laxman has been left out for he is a magnificent player.
Sourav Ganguly is another, who must be sitting at home and thinking what he has done wrong. We haven't seen much of Sourav in the last six-eight months but he is a class player and has been one for some time. As the series goes on, I suspect the Indians are going to miss more the Laxmans and Gangulys they have left back home.
For youngsters in the line-up like Suresh Raina, it's baptism by fire. As a 19-year-old you might have world of talent but you got to have enough first class experience. It's not right to evoke comparison with Sachin Tendulkar for then you are stepping into the genius territory. He was an exception, not everybody could be like him.
South Africa would be thinking if this is what is to come, then we are up for it.
Indians, in a way, were caught on the hop batting under the lights. Teams in the past have struggled batting second in Kingsmead. It is not easy to chase scores down at this venue. Even though the pitch has lost its' zip, there's a bit of bounce and carry.
That's why perhaps they leave a little bit of grass simply to help the ball carry. As an added thought, I hope South Africans do not get carried over by this win and produce green monsters. It's not going to do anyone good.
South Africans made good use of the conditions and Shaun Pollock was brilliant as ever. Makhaya Ntini was a foot and half too short and to be fair there was a time when the Indian batsmen looked quite comfortable and unthreatened by pace and bounce.
However once Charl Langeveldt and Andre Nel were pressed into attack, they quickly changed lengths and the game really swung away from India after they lost Tendulkar and Dravid in three ball. It knocked the stuffing out of India.
I must say that Irfan Pathan's omission took me by surprise for he could have added extra dimension with the bat. But you could see where Indians are coming from. They wanted to cut down on bowling and bolster batting. But given the kind of talent Indians have, they should have done a little better.
Still, I would urge the Indian public to be patient. The Indian public must not think it is unacceptable. Everyone catches a hiding now and again. Every side goes through a rough time. We were also in the midst of it, there was no Rhodes, no Cronje, Donald or Kirsten and we have to again learn how to win. You have to lose a few games in order win a few.
It certainly is not gloom and doom for Indian cricket. I think you have the most talented cricketers in the world from 15 and 16 years onwards. The team is too talented to just lie down. I know they won't do so and get trampled all over.
It's also not all meat and drink for South Africa and the time has come for the selectors to take a call on Herschelle Gibbs. The hosts are not getting too many starts and the pressure that is being added is crucial. It's nice to see South African selectors back a great player but there comes a time when you have to take a decision.
I know it's not going to happen. A South African team without Herschelle Gibbs is unheard of. But the selectors are now going to draw a line, convey to him that he has been given a good go and it has not come off. May be it's time to look somewhere else.
I don't think Gibbs is batting too low in the order. He is alright where he is now. When he played against Australia earlier this year, he was in form. Now he is not and has not been for the last 2-3 months. He must be feeling the pressure right now.
India's tour of South Africa 2006: The Complete Coverage
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