Cricinfo: India v England 2005-06
CricinfoIndia v England 2005-06

2nd Test (Day 5, March 13, 2006): India v England at Mohali, 9 - 13 March 2006
Munaf wields the machete

It was the fever that ruled out Sreesanth that gave Munaf Patel his opportunity and the rugged fast bowler from a village in Gujarat grabbed the opportunity in style. When the final day dawned, the almost-miraculous events of the previous night in South Africa must have inspired some fight in the English camp. The stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff was still around, so was his doughty wicketkeeper Geriant Jones and the air held hope of an English recovery.

It never came. Rather, Munaf never allowed it; he nipped the English mutiny in the bud. Reverse-swinging the cherry at pace, he homed in on the stumps and hassled the batsmen. He struck in the first over of the day, surprising Jones with extra bounce on a fifth-day track. Then he swung one in late to take out Liam Plunkett before searing in a fast yorker, which dipped in, to knock out Matthew Hoggard.

By no stretch of imagination was this a pacy track, it offered a little bounce and bit of reverse swing, and they were enough for the hair-flailing debutant to exploit. The promising debut, paradoxically, would have only whetted the pace-starved Indian spectators' expectations of him. Can the boy whose parents never wanted him to pursue this game, a real-life Iqbal, be consistent and see that the promising start is not squandered? The evidence suggests he won't though ultimately only time will tell. But for here and now, one thing is certain - his once reluctant father will be a proud parent..

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