A bit late to the party, so will reserve the detailed comments. Congratulations India! Thanks Australia for an engaging series. Wish it was more than 2 Tests, though.
Limitations sometimes propel people to greatness. Sometimes, when something is missing, you focus more on how to compensate for that missing something. This time, there were two batsmen with limitations – VVS with his back spasm and Ishant with a knee issue – that fought with sterling grit to snatch victory from near definite defeat!
VVS Laxman proved yet again that he’s not only special, he’s Spectacular. Having played perhaps the most innings (for a solid Indian bastman) with the tail, he knew how it had to be done. It’s just that the luck and grit was needed from the other side. The kind of calmness and poise he brought with the bat was invaluable, not to mention juggling a runner and a tail ender. Even today, year after the Laxman-ODI debate, many fans of Indian cricket will rue why he never made it to the Indian ODI team.
I started watching today’s proceedings on after Ishant came to the crease. I was expecting a bit more from Harbhajan, for all his improved batting and the like. I must say, equal credit in the win must go to Ishant. What he couldn’t do in Sydney in 2008 to draw a match, he did to win this one. And what a time to choose to display such grit! Kudos to the young fellow. With temperment like this, he’s bound to go a long way! And that must only auger well for India.
The Aussies deserve special mention for their efforts, for without that, today’s match would not have been the nail biting advertisement for Test cricket that it was. They peppered the top order with bouncers, chin music, rib rackers and the like, causing them in turn to crumble, although not without some semblance of a fight. Hilfenhaus was perhaps at his best (from my memory of him in recent games). But they perhaps missed Bollinger in the later half of today. Despite that, the fielding from an Aussie side was a bit below par. They don’t generally drop this many catches, and miss this many run outs. Ponting’s lack of the gambler’s instinct didn’t help either. I don’t understand why he didn’t try Clarke’s off spin.
Mediocre umpiring on also played its hand in the game. But fortunately, the errors went in favor of both sides equally. If Hussey missed out, so did Gambhir. If Ishant was given out lbw off a clear edge, Ohja was given a reprieve. What iis strange is that even the third umpire got at least one controversial decision wrong. This is what keeps me still against the controversial Umpire Refferal system. What needs to be done, is the quality of umpiring improved. If the on-field umpire isnt sure what to do, he must ego-lessly refer to the third umpire, and not merely give in to vociferous shouts from in-fielders.
Having said all that, it was still a thrilling day of Test cricket. It’s unfortunate that one team had to lose. While I’m not complaining too much about that, I think in the end, the battle was more in the mind, as it turns out with many such thrilling games.
Long live Test Cricket.
Looking forward to Bangalore!
What a day of Test cricket it’s been. From Ishant’s bouncer’s and Zaheer’s yorkers to Hilfenhaus’s chin music, it’s a been a whirlwind of a day!
India ended the day at 55/4 needing another 161 runs to win the match. Gambhir got a shocker (some decisions have been seriously bizzare), Dravid threw his wicket away after taking 16 balls to get off the mark, and Sehwag soon followed suit. With VVS Laxman’s condition unknown, Australia may need only 5 more lower order wickets. I must say it’s odd that Dhoni sent Raina in when as a wicketkeeper batsman and captain Dhoni should have come out himself. Dhoni’s not been in great form. In fact, I can’t remember the last time he’s scored a decent 50. But this could have been an occasion.
On a day when India bagged a silver and bronze at the CWG, the cricket team’s fortunes at teetering by a thread. But that isn’t unusual, or is it? The accolades in other sport often comes when the cricket is floundering. Or are we just playing too much cricket? 😉
For those who have been eagerly awaiting another Ind-Aus cricket clash, the action begins tomorrow.
There are many questions that come to mind:
1. Will Pujara play? If he does, will he do better than this?
2. How effective will Gambhir be?
3. Will Dravid push the recent bogies against Aus away? The 2004-08 average is an alarming 24-odd.
4. Will Ishant rediscover his dream form against the Aussies? Will he get Ponting again? I certainly hope so.
Here’s to a few weeks of good cricket!
Finally the call has been answered. Pujara gets what he has been long due. I’m personally happy that Pujara made it without Dravid losing out – some were expecting that. Hope he gets into the playing XI and makes his mark.
Yuvraj on the other hand, deserves the ouster. The temperment has been off color and that added to his current form and fitness woes and other weaknesses, esp against spin must have played a role in the selector’s decision. While I have my reservations with some of Cheeka’s methods, this team is decent and there wasn’t a need for major amends (apart from Yuvraj). In the back on my mind, there is a slight bit of feeling for Yuvraj – it is the ODIs and T20 that have gone bad for him. The last 2 test innings weren’t too bad; but unfortunately, that ‘s how things work.
One must feel for Sourav Ganguly. First there was the outburst after the loss to RCB, then this is the response. As a die-hard Sourav fan, I honestly felt for this loss of KKR, and switched off the TV midway thru the match, knowing its direction. It was like going down the memory lane thru the many defeats India suffered to a world class Australian team in the late 90s under Ganguly, the difference being that was Aus and this was merely Chennai (further, they were 50 over matches, which offers more hope for even in hopeless situations, but I will not go there now). So much for city-support, I live in Chennai and I don’t recall myself ever having supported them :), and proudly so. For more on the city support phenomenon, fellow blogger SP has a full fledged post here.
Feelings apart, KKR need to perform a lot better than this to deserve a place in the semis. The top order almost never fire; if they do, the middle order flops. Despite all odds, if they happen to put up a decent total, the bowlers find a way to mess it up royally. The team management seriously need to think about Ajit Agarkar’s place in team. It was shocking that he managed to get several games.
It will be interesting to see who all will qualify for the semis. Only Mumbai have a confirmed spot. KKR will now have to beat Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai with a very good run rate and hope the other results go their way.
While there’s a bit of sadness that Dada won’t be playing, there’s some thrill in wondering who will get his place.
Cheeka gushed about Yuvraj after his centuries again England in the ODIs. But there are other people too, folks. Fellow bloggers Scorpy and Soulberry have been raving about Cheteshwar Pujara (whose idol is apparently Dravid) and then there’s Murali Vijay who made people take notice with his performances against Australia in the series gone by.
To choose between two good batsmen, one who has got 3 back to back triple-centuries (if memory serves me right) in Ranji and another solid batsman has got to be hard. I’d pick Pujara, for if you don’t pick him now, you’ll end up selecting him when he’s out of form. It would be sad for Murali Vijay to miss out, but if there’s any fairness in the system, he will get his place in due course.
Meanwhile, our friend Dravid who’s been digging it out in the domestic circles has got some runs. The scores read 38, 50+, 50+, and 83 in the last four innings, which is decent but still wary.
Hoping for Pujara…