“It’s funny how things change in a matter of weeks, or just about five days,” Kohli said on the eve of the second Test. “Before the first Test, no one thought that he should be in the XI, and now suddenly people are looking at the other option. For us as a team, it’s all about finding the right balance. If players fit in in the kind of balance we want to go with as a side, then they will fit in. We certainly don’t go on opinions that are created outside, and ‘talk of the town’, and all those sort of things.”
That’s Virat Kohli speaking, ahead of the second Test starting today at Supersport Park. Which makes you wonder who he has been listening to — pretty much every member of the commentariat, and large sections of the fans, were sure in their minds that Rahane would be playing; Rohit’s inclusion came as a rude shock. So yeah, not sure who those “people” are that Virat heard.
Of the many noteworthy events that occurred while I was away following the cricket, the one that sticks to my mind like a burr is the case of Quint and its story on Kulbushan Jadhav.
Briefly, Quint under the byline of one Chandan Nandy published a story citing two former heads of the Research and Analysis Wing to the effect that they were opposed to the recruitment of Jadhav, a former Naval officer, as a spy for the RAW. The story led to an outcry following which Quint took down the story. “The Quint is rechecking the Kulbhushan Jadhav story”, ran the headline over the website’s statement.
Since then, the story remains down. The statement has also vanished. And it is like nothing happened, nothing to see here, folks, move on.
But something did happen, and it should leave a sorry aftertaste in the mouths of anyone who is invested in ensuring that we get the media we deserve. The Quint-Jadhav story is one of editorial failure at multiple levels, with potentially dangerous consequences. And the subsequent silence of the website only compounds its initial complicity.
The most jaw-dropping pick in India’s playing XI in the ongoing first Test against South Africa is Jasprit Bumrah, ahead of the likes of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma. The two latter are both tall, have pace and bounce and movement — all suited for South African tracks; Jasprit, on the other hand, has none of those attributes.
Writing in Cricinfo, Siddharth Monga puts the focus where it belongs: on the personnel choices India made, and its negative impact on the course of the first day’s play.
Despite the start provided by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the answer lay in the run rate at which South Africa went in difficult batting conditions, which has left India an immeasurably long way back from a stutter with the bat. Mohammed Shami began with the same problems he had in Australia in 2014-15: bowling the Asia line, on the stumps. He was also too short too often, which is the length that hits the stumps in Asia.
A bigger culprit was Jasprit Bumrah, a shocking selection in the squad – forget the XI – given he has not played first-class cricket in a year. Bumrah is an intelligent young bowler. He has a hyper-flexible arm, which makes his variations difficult to pick. He is the best quick going around in limited-overs cricket. His coaches, his mentors, his team-mates all talk about how quick a learner he is. He is, however, not that quick a learner that he will rock up in South Africa, having not bowled more than 10 overs a day in more than a year, not having had to work out a batsman not under pressure of scoring a run a ball, and five net sessions later become the messiah to save India.
Hard to disagree with the above, and with the rest of Monga’s analysis. Arising from which, a few random thoughts after watching day one:
And that is that for the day, play ending with three overs of the allotted quota unbowled. Rohit Sharma and Che Pujara walking off, with India on a perilous 28/3. The biggest problem for the side now is the fact that it is a batsman light — Saha in next, then Pandya, and Ashwin.
The situation India is in reinforces the point about the need for openers to settle in, not try and get too far ahead of themselves. Vijay played at one he normally leaves alone; Dhawan played a pull at one that no batsman in the world could have pulled successfully, and Virat Kohli got a brute of a delivery from Morkel to wreck the innings.
It lets the team in now for a back to the wall fightback, made all the harder by the lack of batting depth. But then, the side has been talking of its new-found character, of its never say die spirit and ability to fight back from any position. No better time to find out just what that spirit is all about.
- 12:30 pm: This correspondent posing as ‘Anamika’ contacted a person on WhatsApp number 7610063464, who introduced himself as ‘Anil Kumar’. He was asked to create an access portal.
- 12:32pm: Kumar asked for a name, email ID and mobile number, and also asked for Rs 500 to be credited in his Paytm No. 7610063464.
- 12:35 pm: This correspondent created an email ID, email@example.com, and sent mobile number ******5852 to the anonymous agent.
- 12:48 pm: Rs 500 transferred through Paytm.
- 12:49 pm: This correspondent received an email saying, “You have been enrolled as Enrolment Agency Administrator for ‘CSC SPV’. Your Enrolment Agency Administrator ID is ‘Anamika_6677’.” Also, it was said that a password would be sent in a separate mail, which followed shortly.
- 12:50 pm: This correspondent had access to the Aadhaar details of every Indian citizen registered with the UIDAI.
And for a further Rs 300 the Tribune correspondent, Rachna Khaira, got the same agent to install on her computer software that allowed her to print out anyone’s Aadhar card.
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble
2018 is likely to be one long round of electioneering — besides the north-eastern states, assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan where the BJP is incumbent, and in Karnataka that the BJP is trying to wrest from the ruling Congress party. And it is all shaping up into the sort of witches’ brew that Shakespeare provided the recipe for.