International Cricket
England have been gracious hosts at Trent Bridge
2 years, 12 months ago Posted in: International Cricket 0
England have been gracious hosts at Trent Bridge

Ever heard of the Indian proverb ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’, meaning ‘Guest is God’? Well, this one truly epitomizes what we Indians feel about our Guests, Gods and of course hospitality. Lucky are the ones who visit an Indian Home, for the red carpet is sure to be rolled out in their honor with the sound of trumpets being played in the background. The idea is to welcome the guests in as grand a fashion as can be, and to make them feel completely at home.

But Hey! Since when did the English start following suit?

At Trent Bridge the ball didn’t swing, it didn’t move off the surface, in fact started bouncing twice before reaching the keeper in the first session of the first Test match. If you could make the mercury soar by about 15-20 degrees in Nottingham, you could very well be in Rajkot or Kolkatta. India felt like home on the first day in the first Test and showed how it matters too. Such was the English hospitality.

On the last tour to England in 2011 India touched 300 only once in the entire tour and that team had the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman in the line-up. But the current team of relatively inexperienced players has crossed that mark in the first innings itself. While I’m not taking anything away from the young Indian crop, the conditions did play a huge role in reaching that milestone on the very first outing. All said and done about the conditions, I must give credit where it’s due and that’s where Murali Vijay walks away with all the accolades. His place was under severe scrutiny before the first Test match, for his record outside the subcontinent was quite pedestrian. His Test average dropped from 48 to 18 the moment he stepped outside the comforts of the subcontinent, and that caused grave concerns over his place. Before the first Test he’d scored only one half century in 16 Test innings outside the subcontinent and that’s why this innings was probably the make-or-break innings of his career. With in-form Gambhir waiting in the wings, one more failure would’ve increased the pressure on Vijay and that’s why this knock will be remembered for a long time.

The best part about his knock was his balance on the crease and how he never tried to hit the ball hard. The secret to opening in Test cricket is to use the pace of the ball and not generate power, and Vijay did just that.

Before that M S Dhoni did the most important thing of this match by calling it right at the toss and also by playing the right combination of 6 batsmen and 5 bowlers. Dhoni’s biggest criticism during the last two whitewashes away from home was his reluctance to change, for he played the identical XI in almost every single game regardless of the results. But this time and, perhaps, for the first time in his career as a captain he’s tried to squeeze in 5 bowlers, which also means that he’s batting at number 6. Stuart Binny gets the Test cap after recording the best ever ODI figures (6 wickets for 4 runs) for India against Bangladesh at Mirpur. While I admire Dhoni’s intent to play Binny as a bowling all rounder, I would’ve played Ashwin ahead of him keeping in mind the dryness of the surface at Trent Bridge. Ashwin has a couple of Test tons too.

Irrespective of the result of the first game, if England continues to dish out similar pitches in the remaining four Tests, I see England getting another drubbing at home by another Asian team.

 This article first appeared in The Cricket Paper and Mid-Day on 11.07.2014

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