Indian fans have started raising hopes after they saw their batsmen hit 400 at Sydney. A total reached with some amount of labour, with four batsmen crossing 60 (Ashwin being second highest scorer for India in series, so far, should be considered a batsman!) and three more reaching double figures. This was the first time in 22 overseas innings that India managed this score – yes not even at West Indies could the team manage 400.
The last time Indian fans saw 400 on the scoreboard in an away test, was in a match which now looks a photocopy of the just concluded Sydney test. At Centurion, in mid Dec 2010, India were first bundled out for 136. Then South Africa made a rudderless attack (including a debutant Unadkat) chase the ball till they themselves got tired of scoring and declared at 620/4. India replied with a strong 459 – VVS failed, Sachin was top scorer, Gambhir scored and Dravid had a strike of 39% there too! So so similar.
India then followed up with a historic, against the odds win at Durban – the bounciest track at South Africa – in the following test. Can India do an encore in the following test at Perth, the bounciest track at Australia, starting Friday the 13th? Very Unlikely!
While the scorecards of both tests look similar, there are some major differences. India had barely landed in South Africa and had to face a fresh Centurion day one wicket. That 136 first innings score looked an aberration the moment we hit back with 459. The second innings was played at an aggressive rate – at one point India were 449/6 hitting at nearly four runs per over – the match was the tourist’s first on tour, India seemed to be finding their feet and sizing up the opposition bowling quickly.
Ashwin addressing the press at end of second day and saying he was happy with his bowling is something we need to take seriously – coming from someone who had zero in his name in the wickets column. Sane fans couldn’t comprehend his happiness.
The only positive India got from Sydney, in a match where the visitors couldn’t dominate a single session, was to read that James Pattison was ruled out for rest of the series. Balanced fans have resigned to another brownwash, majority are only pleading to the Indian team that atleast they show some fight, spunk and pride and dominate atleast two to three sessions of the coming tests.
That is the least Team India owes to a billion plus supporters who are sacrificing their sleep for their most loved team.