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India must show guts in dumping Sehwag
January 01, 2007
Nobody knows it better than the top five Indian batsmen that they have let down their side badly. Not everyday you come to South Africa and sit on a 1-0 advantage. You expect seniors to be more conscious about this rare opportunity, but, if they indeed were, I did not notice it. South Africa could now be unstoppable.
It never ceases to amaze me that this Indian team has some of the most talented and, possibly, a few of the greatest ever seen in their ranks. Yet, when it's time to bat out the last day, they are found wanting.
In recent years, it has happened too often: be it in Bangalore against Pakistan in 2005 or against England in Mumbai, and now in Durban this year, the Indian top order has not come to party.
It has been most disappointing for me that they do not put a high price on their wickets.
A few changes are inevitable, and I would be shocked if Gautam Gambhir is not given his opportunity in the final Test. To me it appears that Virender Sehwag doesn't take a lot of responsibility. His first innings shot was an absolute shocker and though he got a good ball in the second knock, he is proving to be inadequate.
The management would surely now show more guts in putting Sehwag on the bench. It would also serve as a message to other senior players that such fate could also befall them. I do not think it would still come to a stage when Sachin Tendulkar is not picked, but the great man, one of my most favourite batsmen, has not pulled his weight in the series yet.
There is so much which South African cricket fans want to cherish and applaud in him, but he has not given them the opportunity. Knowing how Time Father works, it could be the last visit to these shores by the great charmer and I hope he rises to the occasion in Cape Town.
I guess Rahul Dravid could sit in his room and watch endless replays of his two dismissals, and yet still feel sorry for him.
VVS Laxman has borne the brunt of the South African attack in this series and thus might have wanted to get to the other end when on 49 in the first innings. That it exposed the last man, VRV Singh, to an almost full over could be termed as bad cricket by a few of us.
Wasim Jaffer failed to build on his early start in both the innings and the manner of his dismissal in the second left bad taste in the mouth.
That being so, I must say that the overcast conditions, when the Indians batted in the two innings played a massive role in their debacle. Yet, getting out is one thing and failing to apply oneself is quite another.
The Indians were of the latter as they would readily admit. It was inevitable that Durban would once again throw up silly weather since, as long as I can remember, enormous time has been lost due to intervention from the above.
I don't think changing its Boxing Day status is an answer, but it was frustrating to see it happening all over again. The umpires had a difficult time with the lights in the Test and it must have been a heavy drain on their mental and physical resources.
The ICC should also look at the issue of allowing floodlights to operate during a Test match, as it does not work basically for batsmen. The red ball looks dirty under the lights and it's hard on the batters.
Coming to Cape Town, I guess the South Africans would now be more assured against the visitors and wouldn't look for any dramatic measures now that they have drawn level. They have been let out of jail and now the Indians could end up paying a huge price.
Allan Donald is a former South Africa fast bowler
India's tour of South Africa 2006: The Complete Coverage
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