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An uplifting evening after a dark morning
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 22 November 2001

It was good to see India coming up with a fighting performance at last at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. The application and concentration shown by Deep Dasgupta and Rahul Dravid was commendable and has kept Indian hopes alive ahead of the final Test.

Deep Dasgupta
Dasgupta’s performance, which saw him play out over 46 overs during his innings of 63, might not have been among the most exhilarating batting exhibitions. But all of India would have been grateful for the fact that he saved honour on a day that must rank among the most passionate in Indian cricket. Dasgupta himself had been at the receiving end of Mike Denness’ stupefying decisions, but he proved that India at last have a wicket-keeper-batsman on whom they can rely. The young man’s composure impressed me and indeed it truly is a good sign for Indian cricket that both Dasgupta and Virender Sehwag, their latest recruits, seemed unruffled by the pressures imposed by international cricket.

Dravid also played a crucial knock. The Indian vice-captain has been one of our biggest hopes on tours abroad, and his running into form can only be good news ahead of the all-important third Test. Though the heavily benign rain helped our cause, the indomitable spirit that Dravid and Dasgupta showed on Tuesday played a huge role in saving the Test, and their stand must have gladdened the hearts of millions of supporters.

It came on a day that began on a dark note for all lovers of Indian cricket. Denness’ judgements in his capacity as match referee were ridiculous, to say the least. The penalties imposed by him on as many as six Indian players, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly included, was unjustifiable. Players have been appealing for as long as the game has been around and, as far as I am concerned, the umpire on the field must be able to handle the pressure. Considering this, a match referee imposing heavy bans to punish appeals is an inane step indeed. Furthermore, if the penalties were for excessive appealing, why was Shaun Pollock not castigated and penalised? There should be consistency when such decisions are made, and we cannot have different yardsticks for different people.

I felt that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) showed great maturity in handling the issue. They have taken all the right steps and backed the players to the hilt. The Indian fans too have shown commendable solidarity and, as a former cricketer, I know how much this support means to the men who are fighting for national pride in a foreign land.

Javagal Srinath
As the start of the Centurion Test approaches, India then will have to build on the gains that they made in this Test. Javagal Srinath, who bowled some of the finest spells of his entire career, will again play a crucial role. I dearly hope that our batsmen will show the levels of commitment so recently exhibited by Dasgupta and Dravid, and put up a much-improved display in the first innings there. One of the major lessons coming out of Port Elizabeth was that the South African batting is fragile, and if we peg away accurately, we will be justly rewarded. So if the batsmen pile on the runs, and the rest of the bowlers chip in and support Srinath, we might well end the series on a glorious note.

© CricInfo

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