Monday, August 07, 2006

Anniversary celebration

How do you celebrate an anniversary? Simple - recreate the original magic.
Test cricket in the year 2006 has so far been generally disappointing. If we delve deeper for the reasons we find that most of the Test series featured at least two of the four principal causes that produce nondescript matches: mismatch in strengths of rival sides, loss of key players through injury, pitches that are unconducive to rivetting cricket (bat dominating ball being the bigger problem) and safety first approach from skippers.
Logic says that the above list names those causes in their descending order of impact. Now let us designate those reasons as A (team mismatch), B (loss of players), C (unconducive pitches) and D (defensive approach) and rate a few series on those shortcomings.

India v Pak @ Pak: C & D; rating - avg.
Eng v India @ Ind: B, C & D; rating - disappointing
Sri Lanka v. Eng @ Eng: B, rating - good
Aus vs. RSA @ RSA: A, rating - avg.
Ind vs. WI @ WI: B, C & D; rating - disappointing
Pak vs. Eng @ Eng: B, D and E (NIGHTMARISH CATCHING); rating - disappointing

(A friend pleads that I upgrade the Eng-v-Pak rating after that pole vault dismissal of Inzamam at Headingley)

Amidst all this comes a breath of fresh air - the RSA vs. Sri Lanka series at the latter's home territory. It started off with strong suggestions of 'A' over the 1st three days of the 1st Test. But the South Africans played valiantly over the last two days and went close to dragging a virtual gonner to a draw. And now this cliffhanger of a 2nd Test. All three innings so far have produced scored between 300 and 400 and the fourth one, barring a brilliant Ntini spell early in the 5th morning, is heading towards a similar total irrespective of the outcome.

The match is evenly poised for a certain result. The bowling has been both excellent and tidy while the batting was as brilliant as it was purposeful. Both sides have been up at each other's throats. All this could not happen without positive thinking going on between the skippers' ears. The way things are poised today at close of 4th day's play, there could not be a better celebration of 1st anniversary of that great Ashes 2nd Test last year at Edgbaston.

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