The sports media all over England and India will go on and on for at least two more days on that one off incident when Ian Bell was or was not run out. The media is like a cow. It just needs something to chew and these days the Indian media doesn’t mind chewing what it just digested and excre***!- like you just need one more blast in Mumbai to chew the Kasab issue all over again. Nevertheless the Ian Bell run out will provide the cow enough fodder for a few days. Two more days and it might have to analyse with all its so called experts on why India lost. You don’t mind the media being a chewing cow but what really irks is that the Indian sports media (read Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavasakar, Ravi Shastri and not to mention the various news channels and their experts) seems to have the IQ of a cow as well. It will never ask the questions that need to be asked. So here are the questions that you can expect the media to ask i.e the questions that don’t matter followed by the questions that matter from day 3 of the 2nd test between India and Engalnd.
Questions that don’t matter
1. Whether Dhoni should have appealed, called Ian Bell back, etc, etc
Why question 1 doesn’t matter is because the one off incident happened when Ian Bell was on 137 and he was dismissed with all legality, letter and spirit of the game on 159 a difference of mere 22 runs not really affecting the course of the game. Had he been dismissed at tea, Matt Prior would have walked out and smashed Yuvraj and Raina for those 22 runs anyway. Ok is it an important question with regards to the spirit of the game?? Well lets face it, there’s no spirit of the game these days. It’s totally up to the individuals. One guy walks, the other doesn’t, so on and so forth. Whatever little spirit of the game is remaining was majestically preserved by Dhoni by calling Bell back and more importantly not opening a Pandora’s Box of such freak and strange dismissals ala handling the ball when u pick it up for your friend at short leg or being stumped when you went out to garden the pitch, etc
2. Why was Harbhajan not fit?? Is it an effect of the IPL?
I sincerely hope no one asks this question. If there’s one player whom you would want out of the team somehow it’s got to be Bhajji, closely followed by the man who has perennial faith in him- M S Dhoni. India would do well to replace him with the 4th seamer or Amit Mishra for at least 5 more test matches to give the replacement bloke a fair chance and give Bhajji himself a chance to come back at his best after some soul searching. Everytime someone gets injured even before asking what injury it exactly is, our news channels are busy asking if it’s due to the IPL. Don’t tread that line folks we know you wouldn’t want the IPL out. The whole world doesn’t want it out except for the purists and those purists are surely not in the media.
Without mulling further over what the cows will think lets get to the questions that matter
1. Have we lost the series today?
In all reality, yes! But never rule out miracles in sport, so fingers crossed. But Indians have only themselves to blame. But why and how? MSD has to answer but it seems Rahul Dravid will face the press tonight. He seems to be the man for tough situations off the field as well. However the questions continue
2. Why was Sreesanth not bowled enough in the first session??
While you might hear people in the ESPN Star combox saying ‘the pitch has flattened out’ everytime England score runs, that definitely wasn’t the case in the first session. India had a cherry that was just 11 overs old and it was swinging big time to start with. Praveen Kumar failed to pitch it up and Strauss and Bell were walking upto his deliveries to compensate for the lack of pace- not in the pitch, but in the bowler. The only way he looked like picking up a wicket in the 1st session was getting the batsman stumped. Ishant wasn’t anywhere near as threatening as 2nd day close of play. Sreesanth- the only bowler to take a wicket in the session eventually, the bowler to have bowled superbly to the English top order in the 1st inning, the bowler who consistently pitches it up with the new ball and most importantly the bowler to have dismissed KP in the first innings, bowled the whole of just 11 overs (i.e two spells in spite of pickin up the only 2 wickets to fall) till tea. Any answers MSD??
3. How were England allowed to score at more than 4.5 rpo on such a crucial day of the series??
Possible answers- 1. Because Harbhajan was injured?? Oh come on! He went at 4.34 at Lords in the 1st inning. 2. He would have bowled more overs and the paceman wouldn’t have been this tired. Sorry that’s not convincing as Harbhajan, Raina and Yuvraj bowled 26 overs for 118 runs fairly equivalent to what Bhajji alone did at Lords. In fact a wicket more and Yuvraj will equal Bhajji’s tally for the series.
The actual answer to this question lies in the horrendous fields MSD set today as he has been setting through out the series. He seems to be craving for excuses to go back on the defensive- the pitch has falttened out, the bowlers are tired, we are a bowler short, we are missing Zak- surely not champion stuff. The fields he gave the bowlers today were pathetic. While he almost always had a deep point and deep backward square leg for the bad ball, he never thought of having a 3rd man for the edge or the good outswingers deliberately run down. He never gave Ishant a fine leg when Ishant was running in and trying to nip it back in occasionally drifting down leg. His horrendous keeping was enough reason to have a 3rd man when PK or Sreesanth were bowling. At least 50 runs were scored today in these two regions alone. MSD’s favourite positions of deep point and deep backward square leg do no help in containing the opposition run rate. In fact it does the reverse. It tells the opposition that there’s a single on offer every delivery even for defensive prods. It also takes the intensity off the bowlers because they now know they can get away with even 3 to 4 loose balls an over. Gone are the Anil Kumble virtues of retaining the batsman on strike to build up pressure- when a four conceded was fine but never a single, not to mention putting immense pressure on a new batsman. When you give away those many singles, the run rate is bound to be over 4 as loose balls will still be put away for four at least once in 4 or 5 times in spite of protection in the deep. Such fields allow a partnership to blossom any time in the innings and as Prior and Bresnan showed at the end of the day you would have neither contained nor picked up wickets. India have allowed the game to slip away from them primarily due to such field placements on 3 occasions- 1. Lords 2nd innings, 2. Braod Swann partnership, 3. Prior Bresnan partnership.
4. Is Matt Prior an Adam Gilchrist?
Surely not! Given the freebies India provide both in way of their field placement and their bowling Adam Gilchrist is often put to shame.
5. What is the ideal Indian test XI right now?
If you honestly ask yourself this question and you know your country’s domestic cricket, M S Dhoni would make way for Parthiv Patel and Harbhajan Singh for Amit Mishra, Virender Sehwag would lead with Gautam Gambhir as his deputy. Other changes might be speculated but these two would be made right now if honesty were to prevail. But MSD has proven many a critic wrong. Here’s hoping against hope that he does it one more time in this very series.