Monday, December 10, 2018
Updated: Saturday, December 11, 2004
DJ's Verdict - Faltering at crucial Juncture

D J Sahastra

Bangladesh would've done the Indian team the favor I would've liked to ask them before this series; the return to form of few of a player who seemed to have lost their touch; Sachin and Laxman. It is unfortunate because that is not what the millions of BD fans world over wanted. Not this way anyway. Not by the generous largesse of dropping catches.

For days to come, there would be discussions on "what may have been" if those catches were taken. Unfortunately, this game can be cruel and often it is one catch that turns the match, BD floundered as many as 4!!!

"What may have been" can only bring more pain and I hope BD players don't get stuck in that.

This morning saw BD hit back with a vengeance. Tapash was intimidating and Mashrafe was on fire. At 24/2, and with danger-man Shewag gone and Dravid, the "Wall" gone, Indian team were not only clearly struggling but also in trouble. What Dave Whatmore failed to tell his bowlers is that Sachin, Dravid and Laxman are all out of touch and one of the two men in form, Shewag, was already out. From here on, BD had an opportunity to actually restrict Indian team to a low score.

Sachin was clearly not in his element but showing signs of playing his natural strokes, come what may. Then, on 28, Bashar made the mistake that will haunt him for sometime to come. He dropped a sitter of Mashrafe.

Gautam Gambhir had begin to unravel some brilliant shots, especially to Mashrafe. Runs had started to come in boundaries and Indian nerves were beginning to settle down. And then tragedy struck again with Gambhir's run-out. It was largely Sachin's call and his fault and a superlative piece of work by Rajin Saleh.

68/3 meant deep trouble.

Saurav ganguly is one man who is neither out of form nor out of touch, and has been BD's tormentor from the first Test. He understood the match-situation quite well and looked set for a long inning.

And then tragedy struck again, this time for BD fans. Sachin, on 47, was dropped by Rajin Saleh off Rafique. And this was just before the lunch.

If it was Steve Waugh, he would've said "Mate you just dropped this test".

I must add here that Rajin Salen was brilliant in the filed for the most part of the day and saved quite some runs apart from the brilliant run-out. I am sure though that BD fans world-over would castracize him for the one dropped catch. Such is life.

What unfolded from there on was suggestive of, if not completely, then in ample measures of what Sachin was in his formative years. Some of the shots left us gasping for breath. Ganguly, let off on 11 by Manjurul Islam Rana, seemed in ominous touch and Sachin started to look authoritative. The post-lunch session was a total domination. For once, it seemed like a different contest altogether than the one that we witnessed in the morning. The flurry of shots left spectators gasping and was a heart-warming scene for Indian teams. I can't believe I stayed on till 6:00 in the morning.

Saurav looked well set for a hundred and it was only a beautiful delivery from Tapash that cut short his would-be party. It was pitched on the off-stump and straightened, even nipped back a little to knock Saurav's off-stump. Saurav was guilty of a lazy defensive stroke. Nonetheless, he had played skippers innings. He had soothened the nerves and taken the match to some sanity as far as Indian team was concerned.

Laxman was in sublime touch. His 6 fours were sheer class and beauty to watch. If anything, he looked in an ominous touch and seemed set to play a long inning. He fell victim to a fastish Rafique delivery that hurried on to his backfoot in front of the leg-stump. He was unlucky in the sense that the delivery was turning from outside off when it hit him in front of the leg and would've missed the leg or should've been enough to give him the benefit of doubt. But that was not to be and he departed after a useful 50+ partnership with Sachin.

Dinesh Karthik, I must say I am impressed with this lad. Saw him bat for the first time and he seemed to be launching into full blooded drive to every ball that he seemed to face. 5 of them made it to the boundary and more than double that number to the fielders. It was an interesting sight seeing him launch into full-blooded stroke on and on again. He played a full repertoire of shots and I was amazed to see him bat. I see some promise here. He fell, if anything, to an amazing piece of catch at gully by Mashree off Rahman.

Rahman had never looked threatening and never looked like one to be getting the wicket till that point.

Irfan fell early to a superb catch by Rahman and India had lost some of the edge with those 2 quick wickets. But they should hardly be complaining considering the healthy dose of largesse that they recieved from the BD fielders early on.

One's heart goes for Rafique and Mashrafe who saw the catches dropped off their bowling. 1/80 is not the figure that does any justice to how well Mashrafe bowled today. Surely we are gonna hear a lot of him the days to come.

From an Indian fan, Thank You Bangladesh for more important thing than the match or the score, the return to form of Sachin.

D J Sahastra is a respected member of BanglaCricket - Editors