Thursday, October 14, 2010

THE BANGALORE TEST

Another brilliant Test match, wasn't it? Four results possible at the start of Day 5 and three results possible about an hour and a half into Day 5... all this after a match where three results were possible right till the very last ball was bowled... not at all bad for Test cricket!

I have not blogged over this Test match, but I have followed this Test closely. And so I will try and make up for my lack of blogging with this post.

DAY 1:

Another loss of toss... it is so frustrating to see Dhoni lose all his tosses that this time I did not even bother tuning in for the toss. I thought that maybe if I don't watch the toss live, the coin might favour India. But as it turned out, it did not and our bowlers had to start off their work on Day 1 itself.

Australia dominated Day 1, despite their skipper Ponting falling to a dolly from Raina late in the day. It was a very good knock by Ponting, though he should have gone on to make more. But North was batting at the end of day's play, and because of his feast-or-famine syndrome, the signs were ominous for India.

I think Dhoni erred in giving Raina more overs after the Ponting dismissal. A set batsman can lose concentration against a part-timer... a new batsman is unlikely to. A new batsman concentrates harder while getting set in early... so the part-timer made things easier for North and Paine. Had Dhoni employed his main men then, who knows, it could have been a bigger famine for North and more pain for Paine!

DAY 2:

Australia again took the first session comprehensively before the Indian juggernaut started post lunch. North did well to reach his 5th Test hundred, to the delight of many (read Poms) and chagrin of many others (read Aussies). Pujara effected a brilliant run out, and I was happy. I had read a lot and seen a bit of his prodigious skill with the bat, but I had never known that he was also a very handy fielder. It was a pleasant surprise for me.

When India came out to bat, I was almost expecting Sehwag to get out soon after Hilfenhaus hit his helmet. I didn't know it would happen immediately. How sore! It would have been good to see Sehwag get to atleast 1 big century in the 'series'. Sadly, it was not to be.

But, on the brighter side, Sachin had progressed to smooth 40s with Vijay and India was looking comfortable at the end of day's play.

DAY 3:

I wore the T-shirt that is Sachin's good luck charm... and how it worked! Sachin batted through the day, ended unbeaten on 191, guided Vijay to his maiden ton in Test cricket and ensured that India ended the day in a position of awesome strength.

The sore points were Johnson's shooter that trapped Pujara (I really wanted him to do well with Sachin for company) and then Raina throwing away his wicket at the end of the day.

That wicket of Raina should have taught something to Ponting... that the moment he tried to be a little more attacking by bringing the field in, the batsman perished. He should have used this knowledge more effectively in the 2nd innings against India's newer batsmen. He used this tactic against Sachin Tendulkar when Hauritz was bowling, and saw the master batsman hitting 2 consecutive sixes late in the match. But had he used it against Vijay or Pujara, the results might have been very different.

DAY 4:

I have seen some wonderful under-rated innings in cricket. Ponting's 72 on Day 4 of this Test was amongst the finest of these. But before his innings, it was disappointing to see India's tail fold up so cheaply. I know many bloggers (SB in particular) were rooting for a triple from SRT, but I wasn't that overly optimistic about such an eventuality... but yes, it was delightful to see SRT with another double in the bag.

His dismissal and Dhoni's incapability to bat with the tail (he's no VVS, let alone Steve Waugh) meant that India had just a 17-run cushion. But in a way, the fact that India was bowled out before lunch meant that India could go for a definite positive result in the match. Had India batted along till Tea or more and then declared, that would have shut the game on Australia and then they would have been content to bat very watchfully and play out a draw.

Our capitulation gave the Aussies a sniff and they went after us, which gave us the chance to win. It reminded me of how Ganguly had declared at Kolkata 2001 with just enough to entice the Australians to go for a 17th consecutive Test win. That in the end was what earned us the match, in my opinion.

Since Dhoni was unlikely to declare, its good that we were dismissed. Coming back to Ponting's knock, it was classy. There was high pressure, the pitch was difficult, he had had a poor history in India... and he rose up to the occasion. I may dislike Ponting a lot, but I have to admit that I grudgingly admired this wonderful knock by the Aussie skipper. If anything, that knock ensured that Australia ended the day with a chance of a win.

DAY 5:

The day started with a chance of another Mohali-like finish. It didn't end that way... but it was another good and satisfying day of cricket. Zaheer and Sreesanth bowled well first up, and just when frustration was starting to build up, Zaheer produced a majestic ball that took off Mitchell Johnson's off stump. I was happy that the attack started with the two seamers, because I really didn't want to see the spinners in action again. Our spinners cannot do to the tails what Anil Kumble was capable of... so it's good that they were not needed.

Sehwag failed when we batted, and though I did not want it, I was kind of expecting it. During the commercial break at the fall of Sehwag's wicket, I had gone to take a leak and when I returned, my dad told me that Pujara has come in to bat. I was sure that he was mistaken, but as it turned out, he was not. Immediately, I told him that this is one very smart move.

It could have backfired... and backfired big time. Pujara could have failed, and then coming down the order, Dravid also might have continued his poor run of form and poor record at Bangalore. The batting below him is not our strength (especially on last day pitches) and we could have lost the match with that move. But it was a good move nevertheless.

I have already mentioned how Ganguly had declared in Kolkata 2001 at a stage where Aussies could still go for a win. This move was similar... a Ganguly-type-of risk. Aussies saw two young men in a high pressure situation and decided to attack them. The young men knew what would come and had already decided to counterattack. It worked out perfectly in the end. By the time lunch came around, the match was almost in the bag and Pujara, in particular, had shown that he belongs.

The Master came along and helped himself to another unbeaten half-century, and was there at the other end and Pujara soaked in the adulation on his maiden half-ton... Sachin must have though of Faisalabad 1989! It was heart-breaking to see the expression on Pujara's face when he was dismissed by Hauritz. But don't worry Che, as the Bangalore crowd stood up in the acknowledgement of your efforts, there were million others in India who stood up in front of their TV screens doing the same. All these fans slept peacefully at night knowing that the future of Indian batting, that for over a decade was carried by the likes of RSD, SRT and VVS, still looked positive in the form of CHE.

It was nice to see Sachin blast a couple more out of the ground against Nathan Hauritz (almost felt pity for him then)... few must have realised that Sachin Tendulkar has hit more sixes in this Bangalore Test than he hit over the entire duration of IPL 2010 where he was the top run-getter. This got the crowd (which was fantastic over the 5 days) into a frenzy. The KSCA deserve a pat on their backs for this, I believe.

But the best move by Dhoni was reserved for right at the end. Guess who was the first person to get his hands on the Border Gavaskar Trophy after Dhoni had collected it from SMG... yes, it was CHE! Dhoni gave Che the trophy at the end of the presentation and that got the lad beaming... it was great to watch!

Technically, Che played a very small role in India retaining that piece of silverware... just 2 catches at Mohali. The result at Bangalore would not have mattered as that trophy would have stayed in India. But technicalities don't matter here... we were watching Che make a mark... finally!

P.S.: I wore the T-shirt that is Sachin's good luck charm again on Day 5. So, all in all, it meant that on the days when I wore that T-shirt, Sachin scored exactly 200 runs without being dismissed (and yes, hit Hauritz four times over the ropes).

3 comments:

Soulberry said...

New look!

This was Sachin's series without doubt. Sehwag appeared to be limping along mentally. A poor series for him after a long time.

Maybe too early to ask if he's losing interest,

Shridhar Jaju said...

SB, yes it was Sachin's series... but few in recent times have not been!

And give poor Viru a break! He's just come out of a world-record equaling performance of scoring 50+ scores in 11 Tests in a row.

I am waiting to watch Sehwag in South Africa... I still remember that Sachin - Sehwag partnership on Viru's Test debut (Bloemfontein 2001). It was great to watch.

Obviously the Proteas will be a lot more wary of him this time round and set their traps well. But even if they place a deep point and a third man and even a fielder in between the two on the boundary, with the bounce in pitches there, Sehwag's upper cut can clear both of them and land near the spectator in the 32nd row.

It's going to be exciting!

pj_king said...

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