Dhoni won the game for India yesterday without playing a single stroke. He promoted Cheteshwar Pujara , to no.3, a place owned by The Wall, and that did the trick. Pujara demonstrated classical strokeplay and an uncluttered mind as he caressed the Aussie bowlers to submission. On a wearing, albeit slow, 5th day track, he used his feet to drive the hapless Hauritz out of the attack and handled the pacers with ease even pulling them with disdain to complete an entertaining half century.
One was worried when Sehwag got out early because in the absence of Laxman, there was nobody to get the runs quickly and assuredly. Dravid and Sachin tend to slow things down in the 4th innings and the momentum is lost. Pressure builds on them as they strive to survive instead of taking the fight to the opposition. Raina and Dhoni are iffy in their technique and can be put under the gun on a breaking track. Pujara was a revelation. Wrongly not selected ahead of lesser batsmen, he put the disappointment of the first innings behind him, in which he was unfortunate to get one that kept low. In fact he got another this innings which he dispatched to the boundary. He also provided the surprise element that the Aussies never considered. It remains to be seen how he performs from this point on but the raw material is there in him to have a good career. Vijay also played a good innings, continuing his good form. Sachin is in a zone these days and his task was easy to guide the team home.
As VVS and now Pujara showed that the best way to ensure Victory is through a positive run-getting mindset. We need to continuously blend youth into a winning combination. Too much of the same thing can sometimes weigh you down. Good new talent has the surprise element and the license to make a difference. It also makes it easy to ship out old warhorses lest they overstay their tenure.
Also there needs to be weightage given to the runs made in the first class format, especially if they are made with such consistency as Pujara has. T20 and ODI heroes like Vijay and Raina, get more exposure and make it to the team faster than Pujara. Raina averages 45 , Vijay 52 and Pujara 59 in first class cricket. I wonder how the choices are made. Pujara was typecast as a defensive player and its full credit to him that he has changed his game and proved his adaptability. On the basis of this performance he would have got into the ODI team but that was already announced,so he will have to wait his turn for the next international exposure.
The Aussies were surprisingly below par and yet were in with a chance in both matches. They have lost 3 in a row now and the ashes beckon. But I think they will get their act together and beat England in Australia. 2 great Test matches and we needed some more but on to the ODIs where the Aussies(No 1 ranked team) are going to be tough to beat.