Posts Tagged ‘329’


 Bini Sathyan

The one moment that will remain etched in memory forever from this Test is the satisfied smile of Ponting after rising from the dirt on completing his century. He runs for a non-existent single, dives into the crease to save his wicket which brings up his hundred. Then he rises from the pitch with mud all over, smiles at himself, smiles once again at his captain and then waves his bat to the stands. For the great batsman that he is, it was literally a rise from the dirt, defying all who bayed for his blood. Ricky Ponting is back.

Clarke ensured it remained his Test by knocking over Tendulkar. © Getty Images

Ricky is a changed Ponting now. We cannot find the aggressiveness in his batting which was his hallmark. The arrogance on his face has given way to a sense of calm. But the true Aussie steely determination underneath could not be hidden by that calm. He simply refused to die away. And what a comeback he has made. 60, 62 and 134 in three innings in two different pitches when the ball swung in and out and where the greats of Indian cricket struggled to make a mark.

He had come in at a time when Australia was in dire straits. Two wickets down for 8 runs. Later he was joined by his captain, Clarke, whom he had nurtured as a pup. Together they rebuilt the innings. They kept things simple. They were careful not to swing at anything that moved away. And dispatched all things that came their way. Soon everything seemed to change. The Australians started to bat with authority. They made the pitch look like a batting beauty. The Indians lost their way. The captain looked lost. He started forgetting basic things like field placements in accordance with who was bowling and to whom. The fielders started chasing balls instead of attacking them. The bowlers lost interest. And India lost the test.

Clarke matured. He knew that his responsibility did not end with his century. He went on and on and on. From century to double to triple and still kept going. And on 329 when many records were in sight he declared the Australian innings. A country obsessed with individual records, we Indians are still wondering why he did that when there was glory awaiting him at each step. Whether they are not fond of individual records, or it is putting team before self or it is their ruthlessness will be a debate which will rage for some time. But Clarke made it clear that his task was to ensure that his team won. And that task was accomplished easily, with the Indians more than willing to surrender meekly.

When many were expecting Tendulkar’s hundredth hundred during the hundredth test at SCG, Clarke came down and played the innings of a lifetime. He joined Ponting when India had the noose around their neck. Then Clarke came up with his epic innings which is the biggest ever score at SCG. And when the little master threatened to create the three figure magic, Indian hopes of another epic innings were crushed by Clarke himself when he came in to bowl and sent back Tendulkar making sure that this will be known as his Test. Now that’s leading from the front. First he resurrected. The he built. Later he towered. And finally he destroyed. And made sure that the SCG belongs to him.

Just like Ponting there was another great Husseya.k.a Mr. Cricket, who also played a superb innings and made sure of his Test place in the team! Mr. Cricket had to do something for survival and he just did not do something. He supported his captain till the end and in the process produced another great innings.

The Indians did not learn from their failure in the last test. They failed not because they are not good. But because they just did not learn. Just like in the first Test, they kept fishing at away moving balls or perished due to lack of patience. The Australians on the other hand showed how to build an innings. After watching three great innings from close quarters for seven sessions, neither were they inspired nor did they learn anything from this. Any hope of an Indian revival if there would be anything was here. Though Sachin and Laxman did look good, it did not matter. As good does not do any good when what is required is something that will better the best. And that did not happen in Sydney. The Indians went down and under.


Goutham Chakravarthi

There are many ways to look at Clarke’s declaration. For now the divide is even. Some say it was Pup putting team before self: the Australian way. And some say it is more to do with Pup was deliberate to declare there to show he put his team before self: desperately wanting to show that he does it the Australian way. He still has some way to go before he can win the public over. But, it is certain that an Indian captain wouldn’t have declared with another two and half days left, bowlers jaded, fielders disinterested and with a batsman closing in on a world record. And Clarke’s celebrations on reaching 100, 200 and 300 were stories in themselves. He has said the right things through the summer and has been intuitive and impressive for a young captain.

Clarke: Ace batsman and captain. He'll hope his image of a person with questionable lifestyle is all about to change.

Not another wicket fell for the visitors in another day of uninspired effort on the field. Barring Ishant, the bowling lacked penetration. It was like watching a perfect cover drive over and again. It is hard to forget that Clarke walked in to a crises on Tuesday. Those who remember it as a big score on a flat track against a blunt attack have short memories. It could all have been a different story if he had nicked one early. It has been Clarke’s Test so far, and might have firmly established himself in to the job and begun the turn around for Australia.

For the Indians, there is little point in staring at the obvious. It is all fancy to call Dravid as the wall with an open gate after he has been out bowled thrice this series. And Sehwag can be more annoying than gum sticking to your shoe on his bad day. There are reasons for them being on this tour and that cannot be forgotten. Gambhir’s determination came through and Haddin will have played his part should Gambhir go on to play a marathon innings. India will rely on Gambhir to anchor and Tendulkar and Laxman to find their Sydney magic. Their best deeds have come in this land, and there is still hope that there is time for magic even on their last series in Australia.

India’s fall from grace has been spectacular over the last year. They, evidently, seem to find more holes than they can sew every passing Test and seem to lack direction. Their reputation on being a tough side to beat seems now to be a fading memory, in black and white. India are now at crossroads and need something spectacular to lift them up (and not Kohli’s finger-lifting kind).

It is but obvious that changes are inevitable sooner than later. India’s rebuilding cannot mean dismantling the current, but needs vision on how best to use the tools at hand to be in a position to challenge for a top spot at the test level in 18 months’ time. India’s administration and selection aren’t known for forethought and vision. It might throw Indian cricket back a decade nullifying the efforts of a generation of committed players.

For now, the immediate goal of salvaging this Test should be its sole objective. There is enough happening during a Test to be worried about introspection. That can happen when the Test is done. For now, the mission would be to bat determinedly and put up a fight.

Though much of the last hour was a struggle for survival, it is apparent that the wicket has not played any tricks. Australia might have to work harder than earlier in the series to bowl India out this time around. Their quicks have been impressive and they would love to see Lyon give them some control from one end. Australia are still odds on favourites to win this in a canter, if anything, it is only a question of day 4 or day 5.