My five preview points wrt Team India’s Sydney test match starting tomorrow…
5. Sydney woes
Sydney has been a painful hunting ground for India over the decades. Biased umpiring (and some inept fielding/captaincy) has denied the men in blue (what should have been routine) victories in 1985, 1992, 2004 and 2007! While DRS has negated umpiring howlers in modern times, so frustrating have those tests been that I wish Bhajji had slapped some of the umpires along the way..
4. Mental disintegration revisited
The Australian media has used every possible ‘mental disintegration’ (recall Steve Waugh’s terminology!) tactic to destabilise India. Same media, who have used names of Bollywood actresses Nagma, Deepika & Anushka in the past to rile Indian captains. You think Arnab Goswami is bad? White phoren media is no saint, and infact, can be worse.
3. Covid Complications
The latest upsetting bit was related to five Indian cricketers dining out in a restaurant in a city where crowds are thronging the stadium. It’s a surprise how royally Australia has messed up the Covid situation. For a country with population same as that of Mumbai, but double the area of entire India, extreme low density population, located in an isolated corner of the earth with no international borders sharing, hardly much international flights flying, they have failed to handle the pandemic big time. What they can’t afford to do now is to mess with the BCCI, to cover their own shortcomings. So all the five said Indian cricketers are eligible to play tomorrow and the fourth test will go as per pre-agreed mandates with BCCI!!
2. The A-Team
India’s announced playing XI has five players (Gill, Pant, Vihari, Siraj, Saini) who have combined played just 27 test matches! Much is being made about India’s victories in 2018-19 or last month, minus either Warner or Smith or both. Not one word is uttered that it’s virtually an India A team that won the last game or will take the field tomorrow or the key Indian team absentees in the past. Add Bumrah to the comparison table for tomorrow, and the current Aussie pace attack vs Indian pace attack experience reads, 144 tests to a paltry 17 tests!!
1. Fightback after Setback
Yet there is something about this Ravi Shasti – Virat Kohli managed Indian team that, despite the list of odds and distractions (above), they don’t start as underdogs. This despite Pujara’s failings with the bat, a new opening duo to take strike tomorrow, Rahane’s rare masterclass innings amidst sea of moderate scores and Vihari to be picked more due to a bagful of absentees, than on merit. It’s the heart shown by the bowlers and the newbies that could yet be the difference for rest of the series. India have to win at Sydney to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy, as Brisbane (if played) is a favourite Aussie hunting ground.
The batting has to hold up. The bowlers will fire. The batting has to hold up. Exciting test match ahead. The batting has to hold up. Basis historical trends, another controversy at Sydney is due to flare up in coming days. The batting has to hold up!
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