Second Test Match, Wankhede, Mumbai
England’s tour of India, 2012
After Team India’s usual stellar beginning to yet another Home Series, the tickets (available on this website) for the second test match at the famous Wankhede stadium in Mumbai are selling faster than Kevin Pietersen’s self-destructive tendencies against left-arm spinners.
Another Brick In The Wall
The India-England Test match at Mumbai (the second of a 4-match series) will be the first test match at the stadium since the famous Ashwin brainfreeze moment against West Indies in the 3rd November Test last year. That it ended on level scores (draw), will only add to the buzz surrounding this match- especially with Team India finding themselves a new batting hero on the tailor-made Motera pitch. Local hero Cheteshwar Pujara outscored the entire English team by 15 runs in the first innings- a performance that will not be forgotten for years to come, despite one of the finest innings played by an overseas Captain (Cook) in a decent 2nd innings fightback by England. Even Ojha’s brave 9-wicket match haul was overshadowed, though it makes little sense to keep rewarding batsmen with MoM awards on sub-continental pitches.
Pujara, so far, has lived upto the hype surrounding him after he worked his way up the domestic circuit, proving to be the perfect no. 3 in Home Conditions. In no way must Dravid be forgotten for his timely retirement- a studied move that fasttracked Pujara’s comeback into Test cricket a year before India’s next overseas tour. The confidence and technique displayed by the youngster will go a long way in overcoming some mental demons abroad (he has played 4 of his 6 tests in India). Early days, but a century followed by a double century means that he is cashing in heavily on his deserved opportunity- letting a lot of Dravidholics breathe a sigh of relief. The no. 3 spot, till 2013, is not so vacant after all.
The Darkest Horse
Apart from Pujara, Yuvraj Singh displayed immense charisma in the first innings, sealing one of the greatest comebacks in sports this year. With Sehwag looking good to add to his records in Mumbai, it is only down to Gambhir and Tendulkar– the two struggling veterans in an otherwise-solid-looking Home lineup. A 9-wicket win was the need of the hour, after a desperately barren 18 months- and if anything, England’s enigmatic batters will find it a lot harder on the spinning, low track at Mumbai.
KP and Bell will have to behave their age, without which England don’t look capable of taking the game into the 5th day of Test Match cricket.
The Indian team is yet to be tested in these conditions, and will be licking their lips at the prospect of 3 more test matches against a team that destroyed them back on their own turf in 2011. Harbhajan Singh could get a slight look-in at Mumbai, but the heartwarming spells by Yadav and Zaheer on an utterly thankless turning track could convince Dhoni otherwise.
The Crime Scene, Mumbai
A good match of Test Cricket by all standards, the Ahmedabad Test followed the India-playing-at-Home norm to the T.
The crowd at Wankhede, Mumbai– the site of India’s greatest triumph in Cricket History- could be witness to a significant battle come 23rd onwards, with the little Master set to play (in all probability) his last test match on home turf. The last time he played here, he missed his 100th century by 6 runs- a streak that lasted so long that it became insignificant by the time he reached there. This time, he will be looking to make amends for an ordinary year- with Shivaji Park set to don different colours after an eventful few weeks for India’s Maximum City.