On a very few occasions earlier, so much of praise was showered on the curator as in the just concluded Second Test which India won comprehensively. The pitch of Eden Gardens was so much well prepared for a five-day test that it never broke and its liveliness and compatibility to all areas of craftsmanship remained throughout the five days despite rain intervening for about a day. That the character of the pitch did not change during the entire course of the match is to the credit of the curator.
The pitch had something to offer to every player of every sort whether he is a bowler or a batsman or a fielder. This is great. Kudos to the curator. While India’s loss in the First Test is excusable, South Africa’s is not because they were a full strength and fully-equipped team, yet offering only one player of real note- Hashim Amla. All other players in the team were found wanting. They should know that only thunderous pace is not going to trouble India, the number one team in the world. South African bowlers are not adequate enough for the likes of Tendulkar, Dhoni, Sehwag and Laxman.
They were rather lucky that Dravid, Laxman, Yuvraj were not playing in the first test and Dravid and yuvraj in the second and their replacements were only raw and novice for test cricket which requires tons of patience, concentration and character. Our dreaded battery of fast bowlers were all half-fit and bowled with reduced pace and run-up. Ishant Sharma hardly touched 140kms., though he is capable of 145kms.+. Sreesanth, Zaheer, Nehera were all half-fit. One can very well imagine what would have been the plight of South Africa had a full-strength and fully-fit Indian team played both the tests.
Again, a word for the critics who despite claiming to be of international stature had criticized Indian bowling stating that India does not have the bowling strength to take twenty wickets of its opposition. It is not by the toss of a coin that India has assumed the number one position, but by sordid performance over the last thirty-five tests or so spanning over a brace of years when India grounded all oppositions virtually, the ICC parameter-system has exalted it into that position. Such talks are condemn ably rubbish as such critics are only overawed by a phobia that the country they belong to and like have been god-graced to become number one.
That India handicapped by Zaheer’s absence could take all second innings wickets with only three bowlers bowling is both commendable and creditable. Unquestionably, Harabhajan was the pick of the Indian bowlers, but the support lent by Amit and Ishanta were immense and adequate. All three bowlers complimented and supplemented each other to get rid of South Africa in a little over four sessions in the second innings. It is often seen in test cricket that Indian spinners toil to take the tail-enders. Here also Parnel and Harris harassed our spinners by offering stubborn resistance.
I have a word of praise for Ishant Sharma for getting both the wickets to facilitate Harabhajan to take the last wicket to wrap up the match. Ishant worked up a lively pace with his bouncy deliveries bowling ten to twelve overs more than his share to make up for the absence of Zaheer. Kudos to our all three lion- hearted bowlers. Finally, a word of praise for MSD who has been time and again proving that he has been cut out for the job with his shrewd captaincy and sordid performances both behind and in front of the wicket. Well Done India.