Is The Wait Over?  

Ramesh and Das: Promising opening pair  
By S. Zeyaur Rahman  

It is the content at the bottom of the edifice that decides its reliability, whereas the constituent at the top that gives an innings its foundation. It is one of the ironies of Test Cricket, that India holds the world record for the first wicket partnership without ever having a world-class opening pair. True we did have a world-beater in Sunil Gavaskar, but what about his other half? Were they anywhere near him?    

Ever since Gavaskar departed, we were desperate for solidity at the top and when Srikanth bid adieu, our miseries were only doubled. In the decade gone by, we have tried at least twenty different opening combinations without the desired results. The closest we came to settling with a pair was Prabhakar-Sidhu. It is shocking to note that after Gavaskar just four openers have managed a century in Test matches; Sidhu, Prabhakar, Ramesh and Laxman.    

That was until we discovered Shiv Sundar Das. He too has come from the same domestic system that has huge scorers like W V Raman, Rathore, Jaffer etc, who could not fare well against international sides and even worse while abroad. If Das would also come and go the same way, then nothing could be more unfortunate.  

Isn't it typical of the media to hail any new centurion as the next messiah? The number of carriers England has ruined by comparisons to Botham is phenomenal. Indian media is no different. The short-lived demi-God status is painful for the player concerned as well as the disappointed fans.   After watching Shiv Sundar Das, somehow one feels a little more hopeful. There is a sublime authority, serene composure and subtle confidence in him. The crafty and cool all round play, which he has demonstrated in the previous two innings augurs well for him and Indian cricket. He has given rise to tremendous hopes and deserves it. But will he flatter to deceive like Kambli or go on at least like Dravid or Ganguly if not like Tendulkar?    

The answer is hidden in the future. But one can scent the winds of welcome change in the top order. Giving him company is Ramesh, who has hung around for over a year now - an achievement in itself for an opener- and has not been that disappointing. He has in fact got a name for his consistency. Consistency and certainty are the two most desired virtues of an opening pair. If Ramesh can give one and Das the other, nothing could be better.    

We must not forget that it is a domestic series for Das, where he is at home. The crowd and pitch are distinct advantages, but the toughest challenge for Indian batsmen is psychological. The moment we are out of the country our superstars come up with abysmal performances, which is difficult to explain.    

Ramesh and Das will have to be mentally tough and perform irrespective of the opposition and the nature of the pitch. So far they have promised to do so. No one knows if they can continue their good work. But one thing is sure that the next time India tours somewhere, I may end up being disappointed by the openers, but to begin with I will have some kind of a hope of someone getting to a three figure mark.


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