Calcutta: “We can’t take it too seriously… The boys should just enjoy the game,” had been an unusually relaxed coach Greg Chappell’s comment in the lead-up to India’s maiden Twenty20 International, on Friday night.
Much against the trend in the ongoing tour, the Indians actually won that ‘historic’ face-off versus South Africa.
We need not take it too seriously, but it’s possible that the beginning of a turnaround has been made.
Of course, the South Africans rested frontline bowlers Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Andre Nel, but full points (in any form) to break the chain of defeats are welcome.
When it’s all about clutching at straws, frankly, any straw will do.
The Virender Sehwags, in fact, can draw inspiration from Mohammed Yousuf and Paul Collingwood, who’ve created records nobody expected them to.
One has never been accorded star-status; the other was, till fairly recently, recognised as a one-day specialist…
On Thursday, however, Yousuf surpassed the one and only Sir Viv Richards to post the maximum Test runs (1,788) in a calendar year.
Three days earlier, he’d scripted history with his eighth Test century in the same period. Pakistan’s senior pro also got one in the second innings at the National Stadium in Karachi.
On Saturday, Collingwood became the first Englishman to score a double century in a Test at enchanting Adelaide Oval.
If they could raise their game and have such an influence, there’s no reason why the biggest names in the Indian dressing room can’t make the impact they’re capable of.
Meanwhile, it’s not confirmed but V.V.S. Laxman may play in the final ODI, on Sunday.
Assuming Laxman makes the XI — his last ODI appearance was 16 months ago — a ticklish issue is going to arise: He will have to play under Sehwag, who has been removed as vice-captain for the Test series.
Laxman has got that job and, if Rahul Dravid doesn’t recover in time, he’s going to lead in the first Test (Johannesburg, from December 15).
As with the Sourav Ganguly and Chappell scenario, the powers-that-be are banking on the “professionalism” and “maturity” of Laxman and Sehwag to take care of any awkwardness between the two.
“There’s no need for anybody from outside to say anything,” somebody very influential told The Telegraph.
It’s to be seen whether that’s the best policy.