If you haven’t been keeping up with the
Indian cricket tour of Pakistan, the Test component of which ended last night
with a convincing 341-run victory for the home side, then you will have missed
two amazing facts to develop in the world of subcontinental cricket:

Amazing Fact #1: 4,000+ runs in three
The Pakistani curators have never been known
for aiding fielding teams, but in the first two Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad they
prepared wickets so lifeless that bowlers on both sides must have despaired.
Twelve centuries, including an unbelievable 254 from 247 balls from Virender
Sehwag, were scored on pitches that Indian coach Greg Chappell compared
with the famous Faisalabad “bowlers’ graveyard” on which he scored 235 in 1980.

So strong was the batting in Lahore that, after Pakistan
spent three days scoring 679 and India two
belting 410, the game never reached a second innings. You wonder how the
captains were planning to win, and in fact the first two games produced no

The final Test finished in Karachi last night
on a slightly grassier wicket which allowed bowlers such as Shaoib Akhtar and
Abdul Razzaq to finally influence the series. Famously, Indian seamer Irfan
Pathan even took a hat-trick in the first over of the match,
but it did not prevent India from handing the series to Pakistan 1-0, leading
to almost unheard-of questioning in cricket’s largest country …

Amazing Fact #2: The Indian press is
gunning for Sachin Tendulkar.
Not all of it, mind,
but several respected columnists, among them former Indian keeper Moin Khan are committing what before would have amounted to blasphemy by raising the
possibility that India’s beloved Little Master is fading fast.

A headline such as “Endulkar?
would have just about got you lynched six weeks ago on the streets of any
Indian city, yet after having scored only 63 runs for the series and looking
frightened to face Akhtar, Tendulkar is suddenly looking less god-like and the
knives are coming out. Chappell has shown he will drop any player not earning
his keep, yet surely Tendulkar, who at 32 is younger than most of the
Australian team, will be nursed longer than any other player.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey