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Sunil Gavaskar - Master's words

Dhoni has made his own luck but KP also held his own, writes Gavaskar

Monday, December 22, 2021
Advantage with India

The fall of the wickets of centurion Kevin Pietersen, and Andrew Flintoff, with whom he had a big partnership, has tilted the game in India's favour. Those two wickets fell in the last half-an-hour of play, just when it looked like they would take England to safety, and it means that India will begin the fourth day looking to get the last four wickets quickly and press home the advantage.

Of course cricketing scripts rarely go according to plan, but with Dhoni at the helm, another victory is on the cards if the weather holds up.

Playing at this time of the year in the north and eastern parts of India means that there are more chances of less overs being bowled in a day's play, in spite of 30 minutes added on to the scheduled close of play. As it is, 6 hours hardly seem to be enough nowadays to bowl 90 overs in the best of conditions, and with the fog and light being an issue, it will be lucky if the 180 overs remaining will be bowled.

The match is well set for a thrilling finish, when just after tea most would have thought a draw was a strong possibility. That is the beauty of Test cricket where the pendulum can swing this way or that in a matter of overs. Both skippers are adventurous and will be looking to win, and so there could be a great end to the series. Dhoni would like to continue with his winning streak, and Pietersen would like to level the series.

Dhoni's move to bring Yuvraj on as soon as the England skipper came in to bat in the third over of the innings was brilliant, and though it didn't work, it showed a man who is prepared to go the road less travelled. It was only the third over of the innings and both his opening bowlers had taken wickets so it was unusual, and yet breathtaking in its audacity.

The England skipper took up the challenge and played as if he had a point to prove. His team had dominated the first Test for the greater part, yet ended up losing, so it was up to him to lead from the front on and off the field. The three days between the Chennai Test and this one would have been used for the off-field part of lifting team morale after the Chennai defeat, and once two wickets were down in two overs, he had to show the way with the bat too.

His was a terrific counterattack, and his ton was as good as any seen from an overseas batsman in India. Flintoff too has not done justice with the bat for a long time, and his determination was palpable as he eschewed his usual attacking game to support his skipper. They seemed to have taken their team to safe shores and if they had not been separated, England would have been psychologically better placed.

Now the advantage is with India, and with Dhoni's luck, it will take a special effort for India to be denied.