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    December 25, 2006

    Back to where it started!

    I've closely followed Rahul Dravid's career from around 1993/94 onwards, by when it was almost merely a question of when, rather than if, he'd make it to the national side. I watched his 2nd ODI, against Pakistan at 'The Padang' from the stands, part of a group of 20-21 year olds, which kept screaming "Bekaar Younis, Hai! Hai!" whenever Waqar Younis turned up near the boundary fence. I also recall there was a girl in our group who was sufficiently thrilled when one of the Indian players (could have been either Jadeja or Srinath) blew a kiss in her direction. Dravid lasted a very short while at the crease in that game.

    The first real time I felt that he was going to be a future great was his knock of 27 out of India's 66 in the second innings of the Durban test exactly a decade ago. I distinctly remember that I was holidaying in Yercaud with my parents and brother and we were shell-shocked by the batting performance. A few weeks later, he scored his first test century, and India got very close to a win, at The Wanderers! It'd greatly help if India did significantly better than 100 & 66 this time around!

    Maybe the South African cricket board missed a trick, by not scheduling the first test at Durban, which has always posed problems for India's batsmen, in tests and one-dayers.

    The second test starts at Kingsmead tomorrow. India've done the right thing by opting to stick with Wasim Jaffer and sending Irfan Pathan (hat-trick hero 11 months ago, conceding 46 per test wicket and taking 83 balls per test wicket since ... not to mention ODI stats of bowling avg. 40 & econ rate 5.9 since the start of the series in the West Indies) back to play domestic cricket.

    Sending people back to where they came from (sometimes a loose definition, given Parthiv Patel didn't play for Gujarat until two years after his international debut) does seem to work, like it seems to have, with Sourav Ganguly now, and other current members of the squad, like Harbhajan, Sehwag, Kumble, Dravid, Laxman etc.

    Kumble was dropped after his first series in 1990, and didn't come into the side until India's tour of Africa in 1992. Dravid was in the one-day wilderness for the best part of a couple of years and he came back with a bang prior in the tour of New Zealand before the 1999 World Cup. Laxman kept getting yoyoed from the test side until that innings. Harbhajan also disappeared from the international arena after issues with his bowling action and came back (and how!) in the same series. Sehwag lasted two balls on his one-day debut in 1999 and was forced to bide his time by piling up runs in domestic cricket, and came back a better player.

    There's no doubt in my mind that Pathan has the ability to come back stronger, physically and mentally. Maybe the aim should be to draft him in only for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, not the earlier one against the West Indies. That'd give the selectors, and Pathan, more time to figure out what's gone wrong with his bowling.

    I was worried at some of the reports coming out of South Africa which suggested that Pathan's batting ability would pitchfork him into the side ahead of one of the fast(er) bowlers (VRV Singh, in all likelihood). I wondered for a moment if the quote was attributed to Dilip Vengsarkar or Duncan Fletcher! Thankfully, sanity prevailed, sooner, rather than later!

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 11:24 PM |
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