Sunday, December 17, 2006
The resurrection of Ganguly
At the time of writing this (end of the 2nd day's play), the first test between India and South Africa is excitingly poised. India has an overall lead of 311 with 3 days to play. Laxman and Dhoni are still batting for India. I'd be very surprised if India lose this one. For the first time, India will have won a test match in South Africa.
When/if it happens, this will be an impressive achievement for a team that has traditionally done poorly in South Africa; a team that travels poorly; a team that just suffered a 4-0 whitewash in the recently concluded ODI series against the same opposition (one game in the series was rained off).
Apart from some excellent bowling in the first innings by India, my view is that India is in this position mainly because of the efforts of three people: Saurav Ganguly, Zaheer Khan and V.V.S.Laxman --- the forgotten people in Indian cricket over the last year or so.
Agreed, Ganguly played a rash stroke in the second dig. However, the maturity, tenacity and will that he displayed in India's first dig was nothing short of sensational. He is a strange man with some strange inadequacies. However, he is also a pugnacious fighter. These were the qualities he showed as he shepherded and then commandeered India's first innings. These were the qualities that got India the first innings score that she could bowl at.
Sadly these were the qualities that were absent in the Indian middle order in the previous year or so. The middle order has looked far too brittle. The faith that the new management had placed on the new turks (Yuvraj, Kaif, Raina, et al) wasn't fully repaid. The young turks will come good one day. They will have their day. But for the moment, it appears to me that Ganguly and Laxman have seized the second opportunity that they have got.
Realistically speaking, Laxman was never really out of the Test game. However, his absence from the ODI scheme will now be seriously questioned. It is conceivable that, Ganguly will also make a bid to be in the ODI frame.
All of this is good, in my view.
I have always maintained that Ganguly was never accorded the farewell that a good and honest servant of Indian cricket deserved. This second coming will afford that courtsey to him. He can now chose the time and manner of his going.
My hope is that he choses it well and sagaciously this time.