19th June, England v South Africa, 09:30 GMT
Former Indian left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedhi will be surprised if India go into the second Test against England in Mohali and merely try to defend their 1-0 lead. In an exclusive interview with Cricket World®, he also called Twenty20 cricket a 'nonsense' and praised the leadership of new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Bedi, who played in 67 Tests for India between 1966 and 1979, taking 266 wickets, echoed the sentiments of many cricketing pundits as to just what an incredible game of cricket the first Test was.
“It was a great Test Match, it had a great finish," he said. "It was a Test Match which England should have won, because they set India a huge target, but they were not able to defend it”.
Sachin Tendulkar scored a century - his 41st in Tests - as India succesfully reached 387 to win and some have suggested given the amount of runs that India had to chase and the wicket they had to bat on, that this was his best century, but Bedhi was reluctant to make that claim.
“Every hundred he scores would be his best, considering that he is not getting any younger, but he played really well," Bedi explained. "He mastered the situation because it wasn’t a very easy wicket to bat on.
"I thought the English bowlers strategy was very blank - they had no plans. The tactics should have been to get he Indian batsmen out not contain them. I was a bit surprised with England’s approach."
India have good memories of Mohali having thrashed Australia there by 320 run just a few weeks ago. Bedi expects the Indians to play in a very positive manner but the idea of the series containing just two Test Matches is something with which he does not agree.
“I would be surprised if India decide to sit on their 1-0 lead, and the game peters out into a draw," he surmised. "I think that two Test matches is not the right game plan, to ascertain who is better. If England are to get the best out of themselves and square the series it will be very exciting, but then the whole thing will just finish in a draw, and that’s not what we want."
The seven-match ODI series was cut short to five due to the tragic events in Mumbai but Bedi feels that even five ODIs is to many and that limited overs cricket is taking something away from Test cricket.
“Seven One Day matches is ridiculous. It was reduced to five, unfortunately, but even five is too many - it should have been three One Dayers and three Test matches.”
Bedi has been thoroughly impressed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy especially given his background and he feels that India’s next major goal with Dhoni in charge will be the World Cup in 2011, which will be hosted in the subcontinent.
“He will have the World Cup in his mind and that should be the next major goal," Bedi said. "He is proving to be a very good leader, he is very calm, very composed, unruffled. It is surprising considering he comes from a very small town, in Ranchi. Ranchi on the cricketing map of the world is not even talked about, but he is doing a wonderful job."
Despite Dhoni leading India to victory in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup and the launch of highly successful Twenty20 leagues in India, Bedi is not a fan.
“I am not a great fan of this Twenty20 nonsense," he commented. "It is not my cup of tea and I will be surprised if it lasts. The ultimate challenge is still the Test matches. If you ask any cricketer who is playing the game what would he rather be remembered as, it would be a Test cricketer. Nobody remembers IPL, or Twenty20 or even ODIS as they don’t leave a lasting impact which Test Matches do.”
Interview by Aaron Kumar
© Cricket World 2008