Match two day one (16.03.05). And Sachin today.
So, India is in a position of 'slight advantage' only. Instead of 'complete domination' at the end of day one. Well, whether India wins this match, or this series, its not going to be all India's days all the time. (Not even Aus could manage that !). Anyway, it was really interesting that India kept the scoring tempo up all the time. The main criticism, from all quarters, at the end of last match had been that Indian scoring rate in first innings had visibly slackened towards the latter half, thus handing over the well gained initiative. Now whether that was due to strategy (as Sehwag pointed out at the end of Day three) or lack of it is another matter. But it seemed that the Indians were aware of that while batting today, and chose to counter attack most of the time.
Now, its difficult to say what would have been the position had they eased down a little. But lets assume, that they had ended the day close to 300 runs, and atleast Dravid (maybe another batsman) still there, not just tail to play tomorrow. Would that have been better or worse ? This is for the critics of previous inning to answer. It was a sheer coincidence that the answer for our previous innings scoring patter were answered so soon ! But alteast I know for myself which situation I would have preferred.
Now, the other interesting thing about today. Sachin completed 10,000 runs in test cricket. Despite all the criticism, we have to agree that he is probably the best all time batting hero we have produced (here in India). Probably his biggest contribution has been to keep the faith of Indian cricket lovers alive in their worst times of crisis. It is very much possible to imagine that he single handedly prevented many Indian cricket lovers for shunning the game. He kept the flame alive in the storm, before Ganguly's gang converted it into the happy campfire ! We may criticise or praise him now or when he is gone, but we would never be able to forget the sheer joy of watching cricket that he brought. Never before (not sure when again) would so many come to watch a single man, battling it out in what is supposed to be a team game. I being of the Sachin generation would probably not know how it was in earlier times, but its hard to imagine, game after game, people switching off (radio, tv, mind) once he was out. Even if it was only ten minutes into the Indian innings !!
By the way, Sachin said in an interview today that he was not aware of the exact number of runs he had made when people started cheering him (he went and asked Dravid at the other end what the commotion was about). And at the same time, I read reports saying that he was visibly slow before reaching the miltestone, and much more fluent since crossing it. Is there a confusion here ? Either the critics are trying to blame him for pursuing personal glory, not able to digest that this is a different Sachin from the earlier days, or else Sachin was lying. You decide !!! By the way, he also tried to make it very very clear that he is not trying to reach the 35 century milestone in any other way than he tries to score as many runs, centuries in each match. Isn't it quite simple ? Isn't this how it should be with all batsmen, scoring 35th or 1st century. What is the fuss all about ? I know, the 'joy of watching' is not the same. I agree. But did we expect it to last for ever ? There may still be glimpses, special occasions like to 2003 World Cup, where we may see him closer to peak. But not all the time. Lets enjoy what we are getting. Its still rare.