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Gone are the times when Indian batsmen can play spin bowling on a turning track (Please don’t mention it to anyone that this track was in England). Also, we are talking about test matches here, not the shorter formats of the game. Too much of either aggressive cricket or the modern batsman trying to create scoring opportunities all the time can be seen as the culprit. Isn’t it the beauty of the different formats that you have to adjust? Getting out to Moeen Ali in the way they did was testament to a couple of things. Firstly, Indian batsman push their hands at the ball in front of their pads and are not playing on top of the spin. Secondly, when they use their feet it’s seen as an aggressive shot making process. One can surely use their feet to smoother the spin and play a defensive shot. Well, one Duncan Fletcher is paid to do a job and we hope he addresses this issue.
Was it all easy competition or was it easy on the eye and classy showing by the Indian wrestlers? I reckon, it’s the later. Remember, in any competition you can only beat whatever is in front of you. Focus still needs to be there and the concentration levels have to be maintained. All competitors still have to trust their ability and back his/her skill levels. Sushil Kumar moved up a weight category and did the job, Yogeshwar Dutt was quick and technical enough to cruise through his bouts. Asian Games and Rio Olympics will be much tougher tests for these two. In the women’s section, Babita Kumari was impressive in the 55kg. She was assured during the final and never looked out of control. Women have always excelled in traditional games for India. Old timers will remember PT Usha because she, all by herself, flew Indian tricolour for much of her career. Seeing more Indian women coming to the fore in sporting events and showing their male counterparts how to do it, is very encouraging.
Normally Indian hockey team has been seen as a very skillful, dribbling orientated, players keep the ball a bit too long (and then lose possession) types team. I am sure the regular watchers of the team will disagree but I am talking about their traditional strengths here. Suddenly, this team seems to be doing things on the field that don’t look very Indian, in hockey terms. They are pressing the teams high up the pitch. When was the last time we saw that happening with Indian field sports team? There seems to be a desire to compete and compete with pride attached to the skill level as well. When the chips are down, like in the game couple of days against Australia, the players are ready to play a physical game and make the opposition know that there is another dimension to their game. Against South Africa the team pressed high, showed intent, played intricate one-twos in tight areas and outplayed the opposition 5-2. Passion and physicality along with speed was missing in Indian hockey from the very time it got shifted to astro-turf. Terry Walsh’s wards have upped their game as of now. Still a long way to go and reach the lofty heights, say pre-1980.
Jacques Kallis is one of the greatest players to have played in the international cricket circuit. He could bat, he could bloody well bowl, he could catch in his bucket like hands and biggest thing in a long career is about remaining less in controversy. He did all these aspects in a gentlemanly way. He was seen as a slow batsman in a fast moving game but like Dravid, he showed over a span of time that he can adapt. Class is forever and Kallis was, is and for future generation, he will be a classy role model. Best of luck to a legend of the game.