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Sourav Ganguly - Through the off-side

Dravid needs a big score soon, else murmurs about his place will start, writes Ganguly

Saturday, December 13, 2021
Dravid needs a big score

England are in a very strong position at the end of day 2, and India will have to play extremely well from here to stay in this Test match.

Pietersen won a very good toss, which is crucial in Indian conditions, as batting gets all the more difficult as the game goes into the last two days. Most batsmen from visiting teams do not possess the skill and the temperament to bat last on tracks in the subcontinent, so it was absolutely crucial that England got the runs on the board in the first innings. England should have definitely got more than 316 with the start their openers gave them, as their middle order completely lost their way against the Indian spinners. Zaheer too added to their problems, as his reverse swing with the old ball left a number of English batsmen clueless.

The SG Test ball reverses a lot more than the Kookaburra ball, and Zaheer and Ishant were absolutely superb with the older ball. Zaheer has matured into a complete bowler, and is well aware of what he needs to bowl in a particular situation in a match.

Andrew Strauss was under a bit of pressure coming into this game, and he responded exceptionally well with a century. I fail to understand the speculation over his place in the England team, as he has to be their best Test opener since Marcus Trescothick retired.

It's no mean feat for an Englishman to bat through an entire day in the heat and humidity of Chennai, so Strauss must be given due credit for his vigil at the crease. I hope this knock puts an end to all the unnecessary bickering about his place in the team.

Kevin Pietersen needs to adjust 'mentally' while batting in the subcontinent, as he is far too good a player to be gifting his wicket to the opposition. It's paramount that he holds the English middle order together, especially in trying batting conditions.

England have gone into this Test with the perfect combination, and the twin spin attack will come in handy when India bats in the fourth innings.

There was a rare failure from both Sehwag and Gambhir, as they both have been getting India off to a great start in recent matches. The pressure is bound to start mounting on Rahul Dravid after another below par effort today, and he must get a big score before the murmurings about his place in the team get louder.

Yuvraj failed to make an impression in his comeback Test, but that was down to the supreme line and length that the English bowlers maintained against him. They used the short ball well, and also kept the spinners on, which Yuvraj does not enjoy when he starts his innings.

England may have taken 6 Indian wickets, but it's crucial they dismiss Harbhajan early tomorrow as he is a handy bat coming in down the order, and added crucial runs against the Australians.

Kevin Pietersen and his men will look to take a significant first innings lead, which will keep the pressure on the Indians for the rest of the match. India always seem to struggle in the first Test of a new series, for reasons still unknown, so lets hope they put up a strong performance in the next few days in Chennai. As of now, its advantage England!