Lax, Zaks, Ishant Sharma & Australia Keep Test Cricket Alive
Australia’s misinformed idea of what new age cricket is almost choked the match on day 1 itself but it roared alive on days 4 & 5 and how!
Watson and Pricky looked like they’d slowly walk away with the game on day 1 before Zak pulled it back with quick wickets towards the end of the day. He also said something to Ricky Ponting after he was run out. Johnson and Hilfenhaus unleashed their best slogs on the second day, ahead of the IPL auctions after Watson went out early. Paine batted well to take Australia to a decent score on day 2 but you need more runs than that when you’ll have Sehwag coming out to overhaul it. Where other batsmen chip away at your total, Sehwag revs up a chainsaw and goes slasher all over it.
He was out before he could do lasting damage and it was Tendulkar and Dravid who consolidated the innings, just like I said they would here. Raina picked up where Dravid left, he even took it up a notch. Tendulkar went out 2 short of his 49th test hundred to Marcus North, much to the relief of Ricky Ponting. Mitchell Johnson got everyone else was out pretty soon after that. Laxman came in at 8 down because of his bad back and couldn’t stick around long, not a good sign when we’ll be batting fourth.
Marcus North has a 6-for in England which is better than any of Johnson’s performances in England, in bowler friendly conditions. But then Mitchell takes a 5-for in India and made it look quite easy.
Shane Watson hurtled from 30 to 50 in the time it took me to wear my socks on Monday morning while Katich remained on 9 at the other end for about half an hour. Then Ishant got lucky, was rewarded, was punished and redeemed himself in a memorable 10 minutes. I felt they’d score about 270, giving themselves a day and about 10 overs to bowl us out. I overestimated their batting obviously. Mr. Cricket, the Krab and North all crawled painfully before their respective dismissals. Bowden and the Indian bowling gave us both time on the fourth day and a relatively small target to chip away at.
Zaks was brilliant. The dismissals of Hauritz and Hilfenhaus would have been as fatal had they been faced by top order batsmen. The Aussie tail didn’t get a chance to inflict the damage they did in the first innings, they were superbly cleaned up.
Bowden made up for Mr. Cricket’s dismissal immediately with his decision against Gambhir, leaving India 0/1. Sehwag looks out of sorts and very very different when he brings caution into his game. It happened in one of the tests in and against SL earlier this year and it happened again yesterday. He poked around for a while before guiding a short ball straight into Hussey’s hands at gully.
I was at work then, listening on Test Match Sofa and I thought it was the end of day’s play so I went out for a quick break. When I returned from my break I discovered it wasn’t and that we’d lost Dravid and Raina in the mean time. My angry punches left marks on the office furniture. I hoped Hilfenhaus would choke on something and Johnson’s tattoos would suddenly develop an infection overnight.
Neither Dhoni nor Laxman had looked good in the first innings so it all depended on Tendulkar. He’d already got a 90 in the first innings so I hoped he wouldn’t be cocky. He wasn’t. Zaks scored the first runs of the morning, he looked confident too. Then he edged one. Dhoni, thankfully sent Laxman out while Tendulkar was still there, so the two could rebuild and inspire confidence and what not.
The runs flowed from there. Lax was beautiful, fetching balls from outside off and all the other shots His Silkiness had to offer. Tendulkar too opened up and started hitting them well. The scoreboard reached 100 from 70 odd in no time. Confident, I left for work thinking the two would still be there when I got there sometime around lunch.
At a traffic signal somewhere on my way to work, from the bus I saw Ishant Sharma fist bumping someone really short on a tv at a shop. I was devastated. At least three wickets had to have fallen in the past 40 minutes and not many runs could have been scored in that while. Lax (poor guy’s injured anyway), MSD (hmm, needs to sort his test batting out quick) and Bhajji (TWAT! utter twat! thinks he’s a batsman!) all must be out I thought.
Lunch was on and the score was 165/8 when I reached work. The shorty I saw on the tv had to have been Raina. I didn’t think they’d get the remaining 51 required. Though the red W didn’t come up on my Cricinfo Google Chrome extension, I couldn’t gather the courage to check the scorecard. I thought I’d follow the rest of the match on twitter (Cricinfo crashed anyway), and HOLY SHIT 15 TO WIN! I had to shut that too when Ishant Sharma, brave, stoic Ishant was handed a howler of a LBW.
10 minutes later I checked twitter again to learn that Laxman had called Ojha a bh****od, Bowden had ensured his safe passage from the country by not giving Ojha out LBW, Steve Smith left a bad impression in the little part he played in the game by gifting India 4 overthrows off that same LBW and that Ojha had taken his test batting average up to an impressive 23.50 with this stellar knock.
Various combinations of VVS Laxman, Ishant Sharma, Test Match, Test Cricket and Mohali were trending on twitter, Ricky Ponting was making his face (probably because Raina ran him out in the first innings and then took a terrific catch to dismiss him in the second innings so now Ricky’s the bowler’s bunny for Bhajji and fielder’s bunny for Raina in tests), Uploading Appam was uploading pictures with each cricketer from the dressing room and Zak ended up winning the Man of the Match award which I personally thought should have gone to Ishant or Laxman or Watson if we’re feeling terribly generous.
Test cricket is alive kicking. Long live test cricket!