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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Cricket: 1st Test. End of 4th Day's Play.

Category: Misc. Cricket.

Australia's Tour of India 2004-05.
India v. Australia 1st Test. End of 4th Day's play. Bangalore.

Set a target of 455 to win, India are struggling at a 105 for 6 in their 2nd innings of the first test versus Australia at Bangalore.

Australia resumed their innings from their overnight score of 127 for 4 and were allout for 228 half an hour after lunch. Harbhajan picked six wickets and Kumble took two wickets.

Last innings centurion, Michael Clarke was caught at forward short-leg by Akash Chopra, who showed good anticipation to take the catch well above his head. Martyn was caught at short cover by Kaif of the bowling of Harbhajan. Gilly was caught at forward short-leg by Akash Chopra of the bowling of Kumble.

Warne played well for his 30 odd runs hitting Kumble for more than a couple of fours and negotiating Harbhajan's turn. Gillespie and Kasprowicz hung around for some time before being taken by Harbhajan and Australia were all out for 228 runs in their second innings with Harbhajan picking up six wickets.

India started their 2nd innings on a disastrous note, Virender Sehwag was adjudged leg before wicket to a Glenn McGrath delivery that stayed low and hit him on the pads. Television replays clearly showed that the ball had it the bat and then went on to hit the pads. Sehwag wasn't happy with the decision and spoke a few words with the umpire, Billy Bowden of New Zealand, on his way back to the pavilion.

Akash Chopra who had survived a sharp chance at first slip, Mathew Hayden diving full stretch to his right towards second slip couldn't hold on to the catch of a Jason Gillespie delivery, was trapped in front of the wicket by Gillespie after a very powerful appeal which was seconded by umpire Steve Bucknor who, as is his inimitable style, took a long time to arrive at the decision to declare Chopra out LBW.

In walked Saurav Ganguly with the score at 7 for 2 with Rahul Dravid for company.
Saurav Ganguly pushed a ball towards mid-wicket, the ball went to the left of Kasprowicz, who quickly made ground and fielded the ball, Rahul Dravid at the other end was watching the ball and the fielder , and by that time Saurav Ganguly was half-way down the pitch, running towards Dravid's end. Dravid gave a call to stop, but Ganguly was too far off and Kasprowicz only had to throw the ball back to Gilly to knock the stumps over to run-out Ganguly.

Ganguly left shaking his head over the mix-up and his runout. I'd say the fault rests with Saurav Ganguly. What was the need to go for a run when we were already two down, and he was settling down, having faced just a couple of balls, why the hurry to go for a run. India were three down for 13 and staring at a big defeat.

Laxman was the next man in. I had so many hopes on Laxman. Laxman started cautiously scoring only a couple of runs in the 10 balls he faced from the fast bowlers, Gillespie and McGrath. There was a bowling change and Shane Warne was brought into the attack by the Australian captain, Adam Gilchrist.

Hero departs. Warne takes the wicket of VVS Laxman for the second time in this test.
Warne's first ball from right arm over the wicket to VVS Laxman.
Warne adjusts the field, walks to his bowling mark, a flip of the fingers to spin the ball, ambles towards the crease, with a whirl sends the ball, it lands on the middle stump, Laxman steps forward for a forward-defensive shot, the ball lands and goes straight on and hits the pad bang in front of the wicket, a vociferous shout for leg-before wicket and Laxman is gone, out leg-before to Shane Warne's flipper. His first ball of the 2nd innings and his first ball to VVS Laxman gets him a wicket. Now it is 2 on 2 for Warne versus VVS.
Come on VVS what's the matter. Show your class. We're waiting for those silken strokes from your magic-wand. I look forward to your batting in the 2nd test match. Please don't disappoint.
A note for the selectors. Please don't drop Laxman. He is too good a player to be on trial.

Laxman was out LBW to Warne for 3 and India were 4 down for 19 with a humiliating defeat in sight.
Yuvraj joined Dravid and the two steadied the innings and took the score past 50 with Yuvraj playing some bold strokes of the bowling of Warne, however, Yuvraj was once again caught behind by Adam Gilchrist of the bowling of Glenn McGrath. Parthiv Patel was out LBW to Warne and India were 6 down for 100 odd runs.

Irfan Pathan gave Rahul Dravid good company and the two lasted till the end of the day's play. At the end of the 4th day's play India were a 110 odd runs with 6 wickets down.

It will be a miracle if Irfan gives Rahul Dravid company till the end of the day's play tomorrow to save the test. We've seen miracles happen and who know tomorrow there might be one.

Something about the Wall—Rahul Dravid.
At the end of the day's play he was unbeaten on 47 runs. Playing rock-solid. He was lucky to get a chance when on 16, dropped by Adam Gilchirst behind the stumps off the bowling of Warne. Rahul Dravid played like his nickname—the Wall. Presenting a straight bat—perfect forward defensive strokes to good length balls pitched on the middle and off stump; flicking deliveries off the leg-stump for singles, twos and the occasional four; leaving balls outside the off-stump, ducking attemped bouncers, and padding some from Warne bowled in the rough outside the legstump; going on the backfoot and cutting through point and covers to anything short of a length, and rocking back to cut the spinning deliveries turning from leg to middle and off.

An Indian defeat is the most likely possibility of this test match, however, stranger things have happened in cricket and to borrow a term from Michael Holding's commentary, "It's not over, until it's over!" So let's wait for tomorrow's play.

Thoughts on the team selection for the 2nd test.

Akash Chopra should be persisted with. He should not be dropped.
Even if he is dropped, Yuvraj should not be made to open.
Parthiv Patel should keep wickets and not made a scapegoat to open the innings.
Yuvraj needs to play a big innings. He should be given a chance in the next test, and if he fails, then should be dropped. Laxman should be there in the next test, he always has to be in the India team, he always is, in my team!

Ganguly should drop himself below Laxman. The batting order for the next test should be Sehwag, Chopra, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Saurav Ganguly, Yuvraj, and Irfan should be promoted in the batting order. If Sachin plays, then he should take Yuvraj's place.

Zaheer has still not recovered from his injury and is a shadow of his former self.
Zaheer was a good bowler, however, he should be dropped for the 2nd test and Ajit Agarkar who performed well versus the Australians in last year's tour Down Under, should be selected in Zaheer's place.