Upping the ante

As the match started on the fifth day, every Indian eye was on the clock to check the time. Not surprising, because they willed the great man to score a century on the most hallowed turf of them all- Lord’s. What they didn’t take into account was the fact that the great man had a history of coming up short when the pressure mounted against him. Personal pressure, he can certainly take but pressure on the team is a different matter altogether

 

From April 1st on, the talk started gathering that he would achieve a century of centuries on the grandest stage of them all, the World Cup final. It did not happen as it was Gambhir and Dhoni who saw to it that India coasted home comfortably. When he skipped the Caribbean tour, it was widely anticipated that he would get to century of centuries in the 2000th Test- as grand as they come. In fact he spoke openly about his desire to score a century at Lord’s. So did Dravid and Laxman. Only Dravid went on to fulfil it

 

The question to be asked here is, will it ring hollow if he achieves it in Nottingham? No. Would it have been unsatisfactory if he finished on 70 odd and saved the Test for India? No. Not having a century at Lord’s won’t diminish his greatness. Yeah for posterity sake it would have been amazing if he had scored that elusive century. Consider this scenario now. If he had carried on in the same vein, would India have lost the Test? Tendulkar failed where Pietersen, Prior, Broad and Anderson had succeeded- upping the ante

 

Each of the four players was under considerable risk coming into/ during the match. How they turned it in their favour made a fascinating watch

 

Pietersen was under a spot of bother as he came into the Test as he had not played a big innings after the double century against Australia. In fact he was under a lean run as he had no runs to show from the time he was sacked from captaincy. Gone were the days where Pietersen strode in and imposed himself upon the game. He was bought down to a level, where the opposition dictated the way he played. Left arm spinners anyone? In the absence of Zaheer Khan, Pietersen came back to his old ways. Harbhajan bore the brunt of the attack. It was a clear case of attacking the weakest link of the opposition team

 

Prior has been branded a Test specialist with the arrival of Kieswetter in the ODI squad. There were doubts on the man’s glove skills coming into the Test. He not only silenced the doubters with good glove work but also proceeded to play two innings of high importance. In the second innings especially, his batting was brilliant. He came in with the scorecard reading 62/5 and India were forcing their way into the match. He shut the door on the opposition bowlers with a counterattacking innings and in tandem with Broad took England to an unassailable position

 

Broad made this team by the skin of his teeth. He staved off competition from Bresnan to retain his place after a lacklustre series against Sri Lanka. Under immense pressure after a first innings duck, he removed the top-order of Indian batting. That confidence rubbed off on his batting too as he provided Prior with superb support in the second innings. It was in fact him that started the counter attack

 

Till the fifth day Anderson did nothing of note and as the leader of the pack he had to do a lot for England to get to the winning post. He responded by removing Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar and Raina. If this is not rising to the occasion, then it would be tough to know what is

 

What is baffling is the fact that no one bar Raina summoned the courage from the best team in the world. It is only left to thought now as to what would have happened if Tendulkar had lingered on?

 

Now folks let’s get back to our favourite pastime. 100 to go for the 100th ton at Nottingham

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