Tamil Nadu v Maharashtra at Chennai, Ranji Trophy Elite

It is day two of the second test of India’s tour of Australia, and to this novice, it looks as if India is already thinking ahead to the ODIs, or maybe even to the plane ride home.

Dhoni and Co. look perfectly content to let Ponting and Clarke bat on and on and on and on.  151 runs for the partnership at press time, and they are cranking along at 4.28 runs per over, and they look ready to give Australia a decisive lead in the match, and if India allows that to happen, then for all intents and purposes the test series is over before a single ball is bowled in Perth.

It is everyone’s greatest fear come to fruition, as it is so far a repeat of this past summer in England.  Actually, that is untrue, as India actually gave England a real scare in the first two tests.  In Australia however, aside from a few moments on day two, and a few wonderful balls from Kahn, India has barely been in the ballpark.

Here’s to hoping we are all jumping the gun too soon.  But reading around the Internet today, as bloggers near and far attempt to dissect what exactly is wrong with India (remember this team was the number one test nation on earth six months ago) I am afraid to say that I think we are not jumping to conclusions too early.

(Two such articles are here and here, from The Reverse Sweep and a Cricketing View, respectively.)

Now, I am not going to write India’s postmortem quite yet, and in fact part of me believes there is life in their team yet, and Australia has honestly bowled really well, and their tail has batted out of their skins, but it is quite obvious even to me that considering the batting talent India has, there is something terribly wrong with the squad, something that can’t be fixed with a different player batting sixth or with a different off spinner.

So what’s next for India?

Well, unfortunately, as an extended stay at home might be what they really need, this is a long stay in Australia; their last ODI takes place almost two months from now, on February 28th.  Then it is off to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup series, and then home for the IPL.

Then again in July they are back on the road already, with three tests in Sri Lanka.  After that, however, they are home for one year (aside from the Champions Trophy) when they travel to Zimbabwe in 2013.

In other words, they will get their long stay at home to rest and examine their squad as players start to retire eventually, but it is going to be a while yet.

Australia, on the other hand, look like world beaters again.  Ponting, who was dead to the world not four months ago, has pushed the sky back into sky and looks to knock his first test ton since he scored 209 against Pakistan at Hobart – 32 test innings ago.

And their young quicks continue to impress, especially Pattinson, who just keeps taking wickets.  As such it might not all be India’s fault, that as I alluded to above, it might simply be that Australia is playing quite well.

Over in South Africa, another aging batsman is showing that age is just a number, as the 36 year Jacques Kallis is at 159 not out for the hosts, who have batted for 347/3 against Sri Lanka in the first innings of the third and decisive test.

At this point, it looks like it is going to be South Africa’s match to lose, and considering how tame Sri Lanka’s bowling attack has been, you have to ask: is it time to entice Lasith Malinga out of test retirement?

He is only 28 years old, and before he retired right after the 2011 IPL, he took 101 test wickets in 30 matches.

Now, I understand why he retired: Sri Lanka was not paying him and he needed to rest his injury prone body for the IPL and other one-day formats in order to make a living, but the Sri Lanka cricket board needs to look at the situation and figure out a way to bring him back into the test squad – pay him more, let him bowl part time, something.

His country needs him, despite their famous win at Durban. He is one of the most dynamic bowlers in world cricket, and he should be playing tests.  My two cents.

Unfortunately, the above will continue to happen as big money t20 domestic leagues lure players away from test cricket, and that is just simply the age we live in now, but when it comes to a player like Malinga, I feel like it is a real loss not just for Sri Lanka, but for cricket.

(Author’s bias, Malinga was one of the very first cricketers I fell in love with after discovering cricket.)

Now I need to get back to the cricket, and working on other writing.  I am starting to think I might get up before dawn to watch some of South Africa v Sri Lanka, see if Kallis can get only his second double century.  First ball of the day is at 3:30am local time.

That’s a giant maybe.

Until tomorrow.

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