By Denzil Fernandes
Daijiworld Media Network
Jan 2: India’s master batsman Sachin Tendulkar is on the last leg of his test career in Australia. It is most likely that the star player will not be seen playing again Down Under when another Indian team tours there. Therefore, when the second Test begins on Tuesday January 3 Tuesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) all eyes will be on Sachin who can make or break India’s progress in the current series.
The SCG is hosting the 100th Test at the venue which may also record the 100th Test hundred by Sachin finally. He was seen in great form even in the lst Test at Melbourne which India lost badly while scoring runs at will in both the innings. One can say that he was distinctly unlucky to miss his century in the first innings at Melbourne especially.
Sachin has openly said that Sydney is his most favourite ground outside India. In fact, he has scored heavily at the ground and going by all accounts his determination to knock that 100th ton in Sydney has grown immensely. So much so, Cricket Australia (CA) are capitalizing on the historic knock and ensuring that there is a full house at the SCG.
Sachin has scored three of his Test centuries in seven innings with an astonishing 221.33 at the famous ground. He amassed an unbeaten 148 in 1992, unbeaten 241 in 2004 and again an unbeaten 154 in 2008. His team mate V.V.S. Laxman has also batted well at SCG which includes a fine 178 runs in the 2003-04 series. The SCG has always been a result oriented ground with just one draw in the last 18Tests played there.
Despite India losing the first Test in Melbourne badly, the Australians steel feel that the Indian team is capable of hitting back. Most of the former cricketers have warned Australia that any lethargy may backfire. But for India to stop the Aussies will not be an easy task. They have to handle the fierce pace bowlers who are brimming with confidence. With a young pack of bowlers the Indian batsmen are having more than they can cope up with. It is high time that players like Laxman, Gambhir, Dhoni and Kohli prove their worth in the team in Australia. It would not be a bad idea to drop Gambhir and give Rohit Sharma a chance to prove his batting skills. In that case, Dravid can open with Sehwag and bolster the start.
Traditionally, SCG has always offered spinners great assistance especially on the last two days of the Test. Will that happen again and Indian bowlers like Ashwin and Ojha manage to skittle out the Australians? Toss may prove crucial since the side batting last will have to ensure that they have enough lead in the first innings to avoid a last minute disaster.
Skipper Michael Clarke of Australia is feeling nice after taking the lead and has been planning to bombard the Indian batsmen with plenty of fast bowling. The young pacers in the squad are raring to prove that they can be match winners for their country. This is the time when India’s experienced batsmen should show their class and experience and post a winning total at Sydney.
Last time when India played Australia at the SCG, there was more drama on the field with the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal in 2008 where India spinner Harbhajan Singh and Aussie all rounder Andrew Symonds clashed infamously. While both the players are now cooling their heels at home, they have also now become friends and played for the Mumbai Indians together in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Symonds has even gone to the extent of learning to make ‘chapathis’ while being a part of the ‘BIG BOSS’ serial and earning quick bucks.
The Indians have to forget their past losses and start the New Year on a winning note. That will also ensure that the series is kept alive which will be healthy for the competition. But then, the hosts will try to push further and make sure that they are far superior to the visiting side. India skipper Dhoni will have his hands full while marshalling his squad to perform better. For that to happen the skipper has to lead from the front by contributing with the bat. Each and every player has to put in his best if they have to stop the Aussies who look unstoppable especially in front of their supporters. One good win at Sydney will change the tussle admirably and probably put Team India back on track.