Sreesanth- Something is in the air
There is something special about Sreesanth. When he is on the field, one can always expect some kind of action to happen. Either he can get the better of the best batsmen in the world or his temperament can get the better of him. It was a gloomy morning at Trent Bridge when Dhoni won the toss and, as expected, put England in to bat. The Indian bowlers had a huge task on their hands to bowl out the English quickly and vindicate their captain’s decision. As proceedings began on Day 1, the Indian bowlers did exactly that.
Praveen Kumar expectedly swung the bowl alarmingly. Ishant Sharma discovered his perfect length early in the innings as he bowled much fuller and got the ball to zip around. India got its first wicket when Ishant got a ball to zip through the deck and struck Cook in line. Though Cook was unlucky to be given out as the replay showed that the ball was going over the stumps, India took it, for it was a reward for some fine bowling. For the first ten overs, there were a few hit and misses but the English batsmen were fairly comfortable against the Indian bowling. Andrew Strauss played it safe, left many deliveries outside the off stump and was beginning to look good.
In the 11th over, Dhoni introduced Sreesanth into the attack, who came into the team as the replacement for the spearhead Zaheer Khan. The shoes of Zaheer were always going to be big to fill for the young Sreesanth, but the Keralite showed that he was well up to the task on the day. He bowled a full swinging ball to Trott and drew him into the drive first up. The ball kissed the outside edge of the bat and went to the slip cordon where Laxman pouched a regulation catch. India were now beginning to get on a roll and it was advantage Sreesanth!
When the ball is swinging and the weather supporting seam bowling, Sreesanth can be extremely dangerous to handle as he had shown in South Africa a couple of times. That was exactly what happened at Trent Bridge. In his first over after lunch he bowled a full swinging delivery to Pietersen who poked the ball to the third slip. It was a huge wicket as Pietersen was looking good for a big score and this wicket set up the second session for India. England were suddenly on the back foot. Praveen Kumar struck twice in one over to leave England tattering at 85-5. Then came the hero of the Lord’s Test, Matt Prior, to the middle. This time though, Prior couldn’t repeat his heroics as Sreesanth squared him up with probably the best ball of the innings. It pitched just short of a length and swung late, which meant Prior had to play it, leaving Rahul Dravid to pouch him in the slip cordon.
Sreesanth didn’t pick up any other wicket later but was highly instrumental in drawing the first blood in India’s favour on the opening day of the match, thus putting England on the back foot from the word ‘go’. With the ball swinging, Sreesanth proved more dangerous than even Zaheer could have been. These were conditions tailor-made for Sreesanth’s style of bowling and he grabbed his opportunity with both hands.
For most of the time on the first day, Sreesanth looked completely in control of both the ball and his temperament. But one can always expect the fiery paceman to come to his mischievous antiques every now and then. It was in Trent Bridge last time when Sreesanth overstepped by a meter to bowl a full blooded bouncer to Collingwood and nearly took Pietersen’s head off with a beamer. To the dislike of the English supporters, the ‘Sreesanth moment‘ came in the 3rd over after lunch when he squared up Ian Bell and the leading edge fell in front of the diving Sreesanth. Despite knowing that the ball had bounced in front of him, he appealed. The Nottingham crowd clearly didn’t like that and booed him. They booed him more when he came to back to his field position on the boundary line. But this was probably the best thing about Sreesanth yesterday: He didn’t get distracted and continued to bowl a consistently probing line to the batsmen.
Despite his temperamental issues, every team would like to have a character like Sreesanth in their ranks. He has the ability to bowl unplayable deliveries when conditions suit him and he knows how to keep the crowd involved in the game. One can sense something is always going to happen when he is on the field. It is about time that he should also understand the importance of controlling his emotions and focus more on his bowling. If he can do that and improve on the great talent that he has, he can certainly become one of the world’s best.