Sanjay Manjrekar, Bishen Bedi and many others were eloquently arguing the case for continuing the Aussie tour – the best way India can reply to Aussie taunts is by beating them. These proponents of dont-boycott line were supposedly taking a non-emotional view of the racial slur and umpiring blunders. However such an expectation is as unreasonable as the viewpoint of the proponents on the other side arguing for the team to come back. Expecting to beat Australia is fine, it is quite possible with a little more determination, as we have seen in Sydney. But Sydney was India’s best chance, which has already slipped by; beating Aussies at Perth is a bit far-fetched.
The bouncy track of Perth is not the battlefield, where you can wage an emotional must-win war against the Aussies. India doesnt have the firepower to match the Aussie pace machine and more importantly, Indian batsmen do not have the skill sets to take on Aussies at Perth. To make matters worse, India in all likelihood, will go into this match grossly underprepared due to the uncertainty surronding the tour now.
Ironically, Indian team have put themselves in a situation where they cannot drop Harbhajan Singh after so much has transpired. To play 2 pace bowlers-2 spinners combination at Perth is asking for disaster. Will Kumble dare to place cricket logic ahead of emotional compulsions? I doubt it; the wounded warrior will not be rested. Whether Harbhajan plays or not, India hardly have even an outside chance of a win at Perth.
Indians must however, decide fast, whether the tour is on or not. No point in reaching an inevitable agreement when it is too late for any practice. In the final bargain, India will end up losing either ways. Aussies have already had their victory without giving India a chance for retribution, which cannot happen at Perth. Maybe Adelaide – if Indian team is not entirely demoralised after Perth.
Day 2, Perth : India holds the upperhand – to my sweet surprise. Kumble has indeed placed cricketing logic ahead of sentiment and not played Harbhajan. For once, I am happy to be proven wrong so far.
Day 4, Perth : India wins. I had to eat my words and never have words tasted sweeter. But India did two things they had to do right – they went to Canberra for the practice match early enough and they played Pathan ahead of Harbhajan.