Friday, December 24, 2010

Boxing day Test cricket

Two matches will be underway come 26th December 2010. 4th test of Ashes 2010 at the beautiful Melbourne Cricket Ground and 2nd test of India's so called 'Final Frontier' at Durban against South Africa.

Ashes-4th Test

Since Australia have won the Perth test, most Aussie fans would like to believe that the contest is even and no team has the upper hand at 1-1. Fact is, England are still the stronger and by some distance. Australia haven't really sorted the worries that they had. Their batsmen except Hussey and Watson aren't firing. They still don't have a real spinner in their team since Steven Smith is more of a batsmen than a leg spinner(at least as far as I am concerned). Australia will obviously trust him over unknown spinner Micheal Beer. To add to earlier problems, skipper Ponting isn't a cent per cent, both in terms of form and fitness. Only thing for them is that the pitch at the MCG might be green top and might help Mitchell Johnson and co. to get English batsmen. Though it could backfire too.

England are nicely balanced in spite of the recent loss. All their batsmen have got runs in the test matches or the practice matches. Graeme Swann looked superb in Adelaide and Australia(except Hussey) are yet to sort him out. James Anderson has been in superb form and if MCG does turn out to be a green top, it will further assist him. Finn and Tremlett have performed as well and made things worse for the kangroos. Broad is probably the weak link, but if others deliver, he will hardly be needed.

India v South Africa-2nd Test

There can be no debate on which team has the upper hand in this contest. India are nowhere close to winning a test in this series, forget winning the series itself. The bowling has disappointed with everyone being inconsistent. Luckily, Zaheer is going to be back for the second test but he alone can't do it all. He must get support from the other end from Sreesanth and Ishant. Also, this surely isn't the end of the road for young Jaidev Unadkat. He is way too talented and one for the future. Suresh Raina is the next questionable place. He should be replaced by Cheteshwar Pujara who is technically much more sound than swashbuckling Raina. My gut feeling is, Raina won't be dropped. MS Dhoni like Sourav Ganguly keeps his favourites close to him. Raina is exactly that and so, he might just stay in the playing XI for the time being. The only other questionable player is Harbhajan Singh. We all are accustomed to see him fail overseas and its high time that questions are asked of him. But, we must also think if we have anyone who is eligible to play as main spinner in the team. I feel, the answer is no and it is one of the biggest reasons why he is still in the team.

South Africa are best placed out of all the four sides I have talked about. Their batsmen are making runs with ease at a fantastic run rate. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are in cracking form and notched up 7 victims each in the first test. Spinner Paul Harris also picked Sehwag's crucial wicket in the second innings and he hasn't been sensational or something, but then when was South Africa famous for producing quality spinners. The only player that could be changed is left armer Lonwabo Tsobsobe. I had heard he was superb in ODIs but looked extremely ordinary in the first test. Wayne Parnell has impressed me whenever I have seen him bowl and I would expect him to come in place of Tsobsobe.

I will be missing all cricket action till January 7th and this is my last post till that time. Hope the two matches are dull draws. After all, who would want to miss out cracking contests.

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