Indians need to be aggressive in their thinking

There should be no changes to either side for the second Test in Chennai. Underperformed players must be given a chance at redemption, writes Ian Healy.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
  • Total Shares

New Delhi:

There should be no changes to either side for the second Test in Chennai. Underperformed players must be given a chance at redemption and neither team needs to start again blooding new players. Form may have eluded the classic Indian batsmen but we all know how easily that changes with some good old-fashioned intensity and attitude. Part-time options Back-to-back Tests are physiologically unsafe, especially for bowlers, but are a thing of the future because touring teams wish to shorten tours so dramatically. This time the bowlers of both teams know that there is a seven-day break before Nagpur, so continued effort should sustain. I'm hopeful of greater impact and bowling time for the Indian quicks and the team's part-time options. Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly, if fit enough, should be rotated cleverly. Not just to ease the burden on Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble, but for good effect. Coupled with their reasonable ability they need to be aggressive in their thinking for short bursts. Ganguly was quite stereotype in his roster last week and only he will know why. Sometimes it can be a sign of being pre-occupied, worrying about others or maybe the brisk first day by Australia was too much for him. Accolades for Gilchrist Adam Gilchrist on the other hand was full of beans and directions. He was not afraid to play ugly defensive cricket at times but quickly pounced when the jugular was exposed as well. His cast was exceptional in performing for him though and the toss was his biggest masterstroke. Many unknowns for this Test go back into the melting pot. What would a contest between these two be without excessive speculation and debate? Will (Shane) Warney and Kumble discover some bounce, so their accuracy can be truly rewarded? Possible batting lineup changes for India, tactical changes to look out for as bowlers possibly admit they were wrong in the first instance. New plans, new body language and positive thoughts for a new day as players convince their own brains that they can do it. One week of massive effort and a break can be had. It is all worth the strain to go 2-0 up or to claw back to 1-1 for India, surely. Simon Katich was unsung, yet steadied such a big ship expertly for a novice. Triple figures would be appropriate next time he gets close. Damien Martyn and Darren Lehmann now locked in a private battle need to forget all that and put the team's plight first, in order to relax and play great. I'm sure they will not forget, but India did not get hurt by one of the best opening pairs around and they better not expect that to happen often either. Patel improves Parthiv Patel demonstrated to me that he has been working hard and effectively on his wicketkeeping. He was consistently much lower and totally focused on the ball when keeping over the stumps than ever before. Swinging backlifts and strokes can easily distract a keeper but that is where the skill comes in and Partiv has already improved. Lower order batting was fantastic and makes the top order failures even more puzzling. Both sides have plenty to improve upon which makes this game so colourful. The standard of pitch can be improved upon but reports are suggesting typical conditions favouring batsmen early and tweakers later. Things can certainly happen quickly towards the end of these matches so the early ascendancy is paramount. I wish for conditions which play equally for the first innings of both teams and then do what they like on the late Day Four and the entire Fifth. In such a unique sport lasting 30 hours it is at the end that you need to be as fresh as the start. These teams should not be practicing wastefully in lead up and having little mental capacity left when they might need it the most. A nail-biting draw or a close shave win could ignite a campaign or be a death knell. Players do not want to be guilty of peaking too early in a five-dayer. Only Harbhajan fought I have never heard Australians dob in an opposition sledger before and certainly don't approve, but it is a sign the Harbhajan is in it for real that's for sure. He might not enjoy the end results but he is willing to put himself on the line in the hope of ruffling some feathers. It did not pay off for him but only because he lacked colleagues willing to do the same. No team will beat Australia nicely, it will have to be tough and uncompromising as the champs will fight back from anywhere, so get used to it. Skill needs to be produced while the needle is on and only Harbhajan was up to it. The whole of Australia is once again riveted to this series through television, radio, internet and newspapers. I am sure the players have another topsy-turvy affair for us starting Thursday that will stun us all. I would rather be in Australia's shoes right now, India must get out of their shoe cupboards and play from the kitchen with plenty of heat. Can't wait. (PTI)