As the 2nd day of the 3rd test drew to a close there would not have been one Indian player disappointed with his performance during the match. Infact, the day was such that it seemed like the Gods had decided that any Indian who decided to walk on the Oval ground would suddenly turn into a near faultless man. The English players must be very staunch Christians as they generously helped God's cause by doing their bit on the field by spilling catches, missing stumping chances, conceding an astonishingly high number of byes and generally being poor fielders.
The poor fielding only served to further frustrate the already hassled English bowlers on an unresponsive pitch against in-form batsmen. And all the Indian batsmen cashed in. Kaarthick did well yesterday. Laxman was pure finesse in human form and played some absolutely delectable shots before nicking Tremlett to Prior who shocked everyone by holding on to the offering. Tendulkar too got runs, though at a very slow rate compared to the others. And then there was Dhoni who came in, looked jittery in the beginning, tried to play some orthodox cricket before deciding enough was enough and lashing out murderously at Panesar & co. 92 runs was his contribution to the Indian total in lightning quick time.
But all those who thought Dhoni would be the top scorer for the Indians and there was another record that would be set with no century involved in a high scoring innings, were proved wrong. For, the star of the day, Anil Kumble, walked in inconspicuously and conquered the English bowling with some superbly crafted shots endlessly coming one after the other from his willow and effectively stunned the Oval crowd with his century making effort. Almost a flawless innings enhanced in stature by the unexpectedness. And when the fine, lion-hearted man with an eternally child-like enthusiasm for the game celebrated his century everybody who was a witness couldn't help joining him in earnest joy. What a moment!
Thanks to that effort the Indian total is now at 664. I was hoping for atleast 550 and this total goes beyond all expectations.
With Zaheer Khan removing Strauss early when the English 1st innings began, it is obviously advantage India. But a wary eye is still necessary. England do have some hard hitting quality batsmen and once the ball gets older, the going will get tough for India.
The 3rd day is bound to be a hard day for the bowlers and it will be interesting to find out how they respond. Will Kumble strike gold again?