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Thursday, January 12, 2006

a new beginning

Some people get sadistic pleasure by forcing someone to put his back to the wall and prove his mettle – it used to be a game the Romans reveled in. The warrior would be thrown in a den of lions and, if he came out victorious, he was acclaimed as a hero. The chances were slim and the authority invariably had the final say. If TV was available to the Romans of old, we would have been treated to beautiful footage of the Emperor decked up in his shining coat of armor with the gleaming helmet studded in precious stones, leaning on his spear. ‘I told you that he did not have it in him,’ he would smile at the audience and wait expectantly for the next question from the girl with the mike.

There are lots of similarities with the ongoing episode of Sourav Ganguli.

When he takes guard in the Lahore Test at the Gaddafi stadium, he will be poised to make a new beginning as an opener in Test cricket, a position he played only once in his Test career. Yes, he does open the innings in the ODIs but Test cricket is an altogether different matter. In the shorter version of the game, there are field restrictions to capitalize upon, there are specific rules that are usually in favor of batsmen, hence flashing outside the off stump to send the ball to the boundary or hoisting a bowler over the ropes to undermine his strength are methods used to score at a rapid rate. But, in Test cricket, there will always be fielders breathing down your neck. You cannot get away with chance strokes. The player who opens the innings has to have plenty of patience, has to be judicious in selecting his shots, has to keep in mind the objective of occupying the crease as long as possible and wear down the bowlers. The opener cannot hope to score a century before lunch time but, if he can succeed in holding fort till then, it will pave the way for others to build an impressive total.

The inclusion of Sourav Ganguli in the final XI and making him open the innings, in spite of having a couple of batsmen who have more experience in opening the innings, seems to have serious undertones. It is up to Sourav to prove his worth – let us wish that he emerges victorious. That will compel people to rethink on whether Sourav still has something to offer.

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