I must say Rahul Dravid won a great toss at The Oval just like he did at Trent Bridge. And now, just like the Indian bowlers responded impressively in the previous match it is upto the batsmen to come up with the goods and make an imposing first innings score. So far so good. You can't complain too much against the batsmen when the score reads 316/4 at the end of first day's play. But while its is nice to see all the batsmen batting with comfort, the lack of really outstanding individual performances is still a worrying factor.
It happened at Trent Bridge too where India scored 481 without a century. But that was in difficult conditions where 481 was huge. Here a first innings score atleast 550 is necessary to be able to exert any pressure on the English batting (the English line up of Strauss, Cook, Vaughan, Pietersen, Collingwood, Bell and Prior seem formidable enough to me on this pitch). And that means either of Sachin, Laxman or Dhoni need to stay put at the crease and get a big one.
Meanwhile, Kaarthick continues to inspire awe and hope in equal measures. The world seems to have forgotten his original profession as a specialist wicket-keeper and his flowing transformation into the opener India were looking for is baffling and at the same time a tribute to his dedication and unquestionable talent. He seems bent on fulfilling Greg Chappel's prophecy stating him to be a captain of the Indian side in the making. Good for him and for the Indian side. Whatever Javed Miandad might opine and however well Gautam Gambhir might perform in the tour games, this opening pair of Jaffer-Kaarthick should be kept intact.
And as Kaarthick's dream run continues, poor umpiring decisions continue to haunt Ganguly.
From cricinfo commentary:
79.5 Collingwood to Ganguly, OUT, well, the part-time bowler has made the breakthrough. The ball again nips back at Ganguly who is taken on the pad and a loud appeal is upheld by Ian Howell...but, oh dear, the replays show a big inside edge and Ganguly is unlucky. Collingwood gets his second scalp of the series, and both have owed plenty to the umpires.That umpiring blunder not only cost India a wicket but probably a few runs too as Ganguly and Tendulkar were building up a nice partnership at the time. It is a shame that such incidents should occur that take the spotlight away from the action on the field. Maybe it is time the ICC started making some changes. Like tennis, we could have the batsmen appealing against umpiring decisions with a maximum quota of appeals per team in a match. Because, Ganguly was, I am sure, pretty aware of the edge and in such cases where the batsman has seen more than the umpire an appeal system could greatly help.