Kohli, Ashwin and Chand lift India’s spirit

India back on track with thumping performance by  Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Pragyan Ojha and  Ravichandran Ashwin

By Kersi Meher-Homji
Are happy days here again for Indian cricket? On Monday (3 September) India whitewashed New Zealand by 5 wickets in Bangalore to win the 2-Test series 2-0.
Sunday 26 August was a day to remember for Indians around the world. India routed New Zealand by an innings and 115 runs in the first Test in Hyderabad. On the same day India won the 2012 Under-19 World Cup by defeating the reigning champs Australia by 6 wickets in the Final in Townsville, Australia.
The scene of excitement among the U-19 Indians was reminiscent of India’s victory in the 2011 World Cup. The hero of India’s win in the Under-19 World Cup was their captain Unmukt Chand who scored an unbeaten 111 with 7 fours and 6 colossal sixes. The result of the Final was in doubt till Smit Patel (62 not out) joined Chand and they took India to a heart-warming victory. Skipper Unmukt Chand has the potential to be a Test cricketer.

Unmukt Chand emulating Kohli
One wishes so-called experts do not start comparing him with teenaged Sachin Tendulkar. The unfair comparisons will retard Chand’s progress. Also I hope he is not auctioned for a huge amount in the 2013 IPL to hinder his development.
Now to the spin-dominated India – New Zealand Test series:
Classy batsman Cheteshwar Pujara put India on the front foot by scoring 159 runs in the first Test as India totalled 438. Then it was spinner Ravichandran Ashwin all the way. He captured 6-31 and 6-54 as the Kiwis were dismissed for 159 and 164 to lose by an innings and plenty.
The second Test in Bangalore was more exciting. Their skipper Ross Taylor hit 113 as NZ led India by 12 runs in the first innings. But Ashwin struck in the second innings and India needed 261 to win. Wickets kept falling and at one stage India was 5 for 166. It was anyone’s game. But Man of the Match Virat Kohli and captain MS Dhoni added 96 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket and India were victors again.
For taking 18 wickets at an excellent average of 13.11 in the 2-Test series, Ashwin was made Man of the Series. Leg-spinner Pragyan Ojha was also effective, capturing 13 scalps at 18.46.
Kohli, Dhoni and Pujara were at their best with the bat; Kohli scoring 212 runs in the series at 106.00, Dhoni 183 at 91.50 and Pujara 216 at 72.00.
They batted so magnificently that the absence of retired legends Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman was not felt.
The only disappointment in the series was Sachin Tendulkar. He could total only 63 runs at a poor average of 21.00.
Is it time the iconic Sachin considers retirement? He is over 39 and perhaps over the hill. Hope he comes back in the Test series against England next month with a big score and proves me wrong.

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