The Indian batting, supposed to be the best in the world, folded like a pack of cards on the final day of the last Test at Bangalore and lost the match to draw the series one-all.
It was a memorable Test for Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, whose 100th Test it was. He received two gifts; a trophy from the BCCI, and an entire Test from the Indian team! He will cherish the Indian team's gift for the rest of his life! Inzy scored a hundred and above all, led his team to victory in his 100th Test. The result would have boosted the morale of the visiting side that was being considered one of the worst teams to tour India. The pundits had predicted that this team would not do well against the Indians, but the way they fought from the very first Test showed their character and will-power to succeed despite all the odds.
John Wright (left) with Sourav Ganguly during
the recent Test series against Pakistan
The Pakistan team never had the flamboyance of Shoaib Akhtar or the aggressive batting of Shoaib Malik, but it definitely had a passion for collective effort. Everybody knew what role he has supposed to play, and the players performed to their potential. Credit should be given to their coach Bob Woolmer for getting everyone together and creating a cohesive unit. The way the team responded to him was a delight to behold. The Indian batting was put under a lot of pressure and Inzamam was right in deploying so many fielders close to the batsmen on the last day of the Bangalore Test. It was a do-or-die effort, as this was their only chance of squaring the series. The way the Indians batted was shocking. Nobody wanted to be positive and they went into a shell and allowed the bowlers to dominate. After Sehwag was run out and the wall (Rahul) collapsed, it became difficult to save the game. Ganguly played a terrible shot to be bowled by Afridi; his dismissal clearly showed that he was struggling for form. Only Kumble showed some application and a "khadoos" attitude to remain unbeaten on 37.
Now that the Test series is over and the Pakistanis are high in confidence, it will be interesting to see how they fare in the one-day series starting on the 2nd of April. On the other hand, the Indian team must want to bounce back and win the one-day series. This will not be easy. Both the teams are evenly balanced, and whichever side plays better on the given day and hold its nerve will have the edge.
Ganguly has been in the news for the wrong reasons as the media and the public are gunning for him, but the selectors are backing him. Though he is not in the best of form, his leadership qualities are a class apart. He is a very tough character and doesn't crack up easily. He always leads from the front and I am sure he will come back in the one-day series with a bang.
Another set back for India is 'Mr. Right'. John Wright has indicated that he may not continue after the Pakistan series and if that does happen, India will have to look for a new coach. There are three frontrunners for this top post; Greg Chappell, Dean Jones and Dave Whatmore. It has to be seen whom the BCCI decides upon, but the players' favourite seems to be Greg Chappell. Whoever is appointed, should make the players as aggressive as the Australians. Remember, all the three contenders are Aussies!
Good luck India, Good luck Ganguly!