Posts Tagged ‘Ishant Sharma’

Goutham Chakravarthi

What’s the fuss all about? Like you didn’t know that Ponting could bat? Or that Clarke’s bat could outshine his spartkling teeth that he brushes between four and a dozen times everyday?

Yes, Zaheer lacked penetration and seemed disheartened. Yes, Ashwin did put various spins on the ball, but still the ball did little off the wicket and only met Clarke’s dancing geet. Umesh was down on pace and Ishant was effective but unlucky. Ponting was made to play across the line. Plan checked. Clarke was made to fish at out swingers. Plan checked. Ponting inside edged, was beaten, was all but run out on 99, but he survived and brought up a memorable hundred. Though Clarke went past Doug Walters’ score at the SCG, Ponting still was the hero of the day. There was no back-up plan.

There was more sparkle in Clarke's bat than his teeth at the SCG. Photo: AP

The sun was out and the conditions were good for batting. And so it was yesterday, but a different set was bowling and another set was batting. After today you might say if Indian bowlers bowled to Indian batsmen, then at least, they might make some runs. But the bowlers might fancy their chances. A lot was riding on them to pull India back in to this Test. And for once Zaheer looked ineffective and Ponting and Clarke took great advantage of it.

Sourav Ganguly tried swapping seats in the ESPNSTAR box and thereby hoped to change India’s luck, but still Ponting’s inside edges missed the stumps. Repeatedly. The Swamy Army sang and danced, but nothing seemed to distract a determined Clarke from scoring a memorable double hundred. Kohli had a tiff with the spectators. And Richie Benaud’s many doubles in the crowd enjoyed piling the misery on the Indians. In short, everything in the ground but for India’s cricket seemed more lively.

Cape Town last month might well be remembered as among Australia’s lowest points. But it cannot be forgotten that Clarke played one of the finest innings in recent times in the same Test. A lot has been said about his fast life and posh girlfriends, but he has been impressive in dealing with his teammates and the media. Of course, he has been the impressive of the two leaders on show. And, perhaps, with this innings, and looking good for many more tomorrow, he has announced himself as the captain of the boat. A captain at the prime of his powers is good news for Australia.

India seems despondent and clueless. Often, the planning seemed non-existent. Field placements and bowling changes were debated, as they often do when things do not go well. Channel 9 feasted on Dhoni’s supposed incompetence as a captain and lacklusture body language of the Indians on the field.

India are a long way from home and even longer away from safety in this Test. Ganguly says India will have to bat out of their skins to save this Test. It has been done before, and by the same people in the team. Gambhir, not too far back, batted more than 10 hours to save a Test, but seems hard pressed to last 10 deliveries this series. John Wright once said he wished to see Sehwag bat 10 hours in a Test. And also said, if he did, he would score 800. If he does, India might fancy winning. For now, the only possibility of the number 800 seems to be with Australia’s first innings total.

It is not impossible for India to save this Test. But it is difficult to imagine the Test going into the fifth day at the moment.

Prasad Moyarath

The MCG pitch was the best thing about this Test. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Yet another Boxing Day Test debacle for India or another usual Indian start for an overseas tour. The Boxing Day Test match result can be interpreted by an Indian fan in either way but irrespective of the result, this Test match between India and Australia provided a great advertisement for Test cricket. Though this match lacked the usual intensity of an India – Australia duel and finished in four days, the entertainment it provided was worth for any Indian who woke up early morning in this chilling winter to watch it on television. The Test match which started on a cloudy day with a few rain interruptions on the first day proceeded in bright sunshine leaving a doubt whether the rain Gods were sitting and watching with awe.

Not a single century scored, only a single five wicket haul, what was that made this Test match so special? For those who did not follow this match, its scorecard won’t provide the right answer either.

Going into the Boxing Day Test match, concerns were many for both the teams. The career of Ponting and Hussey hung in balance and they were contemplating playing Christian in place of one of the two. Hilfenhaus was making a come back and Cowan making his debut. For India, the fitness of Zaheer and Ishant was the major concern and so was the ability of their batsmen to adapt to the Australian conditions.

Michael Clarke’s decision to bat first on a cloudy day though raised the eye brows of many, considering the poor batting record of India in Melbourne, was a daring one which was vindicated in the coming days. Warner gave an explosive start to the Australian innings but an incisive spell of fast bowling by Umesh Yadav helped India fight back. Ponting despite been hit on the helmet by Yadav at the start, made his critics eat their words with a fluent innings which was cut short by a Yadav’s beauty. Two dubious umpiring decisions against Cowan and Hussey ignited the debate on UDRS and BCCI once again. Ponting and Hussey proved that they are still good enough to play for Australia with some fine batting in the second innings. Australian tail wagged in both innings, thanks to some unimaginative captaincy from Dhoni. Hilfenhaus made a remarkable comeback was well supported by Pattinson and Siddle.

Sehwag played in his own style in both the innings and luck favoured him only in the first. Australian bowlers never looked like bowling in the right areas on the second day and Sehwag, Dravid and Sachin capitalised on it. Sachin was the only batsman who looked comfortable in both the innings. Dravid getting bowled in both the innings has put a question mark on the technique of this great player. Gambhir and Dhoni continued their poor run outside the subcontinent and Ashwin made Harbhajan’s absence inconspicuous. Indian pace attack put relentless pressure on the Australian batsmen and Ishant and Umesh clocking 140+kmph consistently was a delight to watch.

Three of the four days ended like a television serial leaving the viewers to ponder what next. Scores of both teams in each innings drew a slanting graph line putting a question mark on the quality of the pitch. But for those who watched this Test match on a drop in pitch, the curator was the Man of the Match ahead of the official choice.

  Bini Sathyan

If Australia had declared yesterday at end of play and put India to bat in the first session today, the match would have ended in 30 overs. It is a shame we could not bat out 50 overs. Except Sachin, no batsman in the Indian camp looked good. Sachin did not seem to have any major problems and looked very solid in both the innings. It really looks like his century could happen in Australia.

It was all too familiar when the Indian batting surrendered meekly to register their 5th straight away loss. Photo: Pat Scala.

Sehwag was his usual self – he lived and died by the sword. But the other opener, Gambhir seems to be a misfit in the Australian pitches. Either he is not learning from his mistakes or the Indian team coach is not interested in him. He got out in similar fashion to different bowlers in both the innings. Unless he can resist the temptation of sticking out the blade at an angle in the last moment to an away swinging ball, he might not get to play a long innings in this tour. Rahul Dravid did frustrate the bowlers to an extent but did not look comfortable during his stay in both innings. Kohli has got a taste of the Australian pitches, but he being a quick learner, we can expect more from him. Dhoni tried to attack but seemed out of sorts. He is yet to come good in such conditions.The sooner things improve in the batting department, the better for the Indian team.

The bowling that was considered India’s weakness looked promising with Zaheer leading the attack. Umesh and Ishant looked very good. They were just unlucky that they did not get more wickets. Ashwin promised a lot but was unable to deliver in the 2nd innings. He is turning out to be a an all rounder.

What experts considered as the inexperienced bowling attack of Australia easily got the better of the the most experienced batting line up in the world. They seemed to have done their homework very well and had a plan for every batsman. Though it did not work for Sachin, they easily got the better of him by using plan B which was to stop his flow by denying him the strike.

Siddle, Pattinson, Hilfenhaus all looked menacing. If India does not learn from the mistakes and improve, this bowling attack will push them further down the ranking ladder. Pontings determined comeback will only augur well for Australia in this series. Mr. Cricket, Hussey, as usual played his role to perfection. He led the fight back along with ponting. They have found a good anchor in Cowan who before the series was planning to watch the matches from the stands and instead got to watch it from the inside circle.

Warner is a destructive batsman like Sehwag and he almost got going in the 1st innings. But India was lucky that he tried to do too much. With Marsh and Clarke subdued by the Indian bowling, Australia was held back from a big score. But this was not enough to hold them back from winning the Boxing day test and take a 1-0 lead in the series. India’s hope lies in the fact that they have bounced back many times in the past from the initial shocks.

Goutham Chakravarthi

The rain had stopped and the MCG bathed in sunshine. There was no trace of moisture in the wicket, nor dramatic movement in the air or off the deck. And a champion batsman had managed to survive a hostile spell of quick bowling by a wholehearted local with grit and luck the previous evening. And a magician who once made an Australian Prime Minister jog from his home to the SCG to see him bat waited in the dressing room. All signs pointed to a day of hard toil for the home quicks. But, then, cricket writes it own script. And then, a swinger who was resigned to thinking that his playing days were over produced a swinger’s version of a perfect ten to send back a champion batsman.

It was a fine day for cricket. It has been a dramatic Test already. Fortunes have oscillated more than in a Federer-Nadal classic, and the less-than-perfect performance by both teams, both batsmen and bowlers, has meant that the result of the Test is still as hazy as future of world economy.

On a day dominated by fast bowlers, Umesh Yadav picked four wickets for India. ©Getty

The first session saw Australian quicks bowl much better than they did for most part yesterday. The consistency in their lengths and their discipline in line meant the pressure was constant on the batsmen. Like the heart of a good story lies in its plot, the wicket played its part in a remarkable day of bat versus ball. With tall and quick bowlers able to generate steep bounce off a good length, it kept them interested. Inevitably, Laxman perished after being kept scoreless for what seemed an eternity. Only the introduction of Lyon seemed to release some sort of pressure, but the quicks kept it tight and soon Kohli and Dhoni were out in familiar fashion. And soon the rest of the batsmen too. The heart and the effort shown by the young Australian quicks augurs well for the home side for the rest of the summer. However, their consistency will be a factor. India’s second innings holds answer to that.

It was always going to boil down to India’s (in)ability to take 20 wickets that was going to determine its fate in the series. That Australia has a dodgy batting record and prone to collapse would have raised optimism. And you needn’t be a cricketing sage to have figured out how crucial Zaheer Khan is to this attack. His mastery over his art is mesmerizing, but his presence at mid-on talking to Ishant and Umesh seems as important.

Zaheer’s opening spell had the inexperienced Australian top-order in check and Umesh Yadav reaped the benefits of Zaheer’s tight bowling at the other end. And Ishant produced a quick spell with pace and bounce that on another day would have tagged him a cluster of wickets. His 149.9 kmph off-cutter to knock over Clarke in a spell where he constantly was around and over the 150 kmph mark augurs well for India given the scare of his ankle injury coming into this Test. Zaheer came back to trigger another collapse to leave the Test wide open.

Two champions of the game, ironically both on the selectors’ radar for the chop, stepped up to the challenge and constructed an important partnership in the context of the game. The impressive Indian bowling unit went past the bat on numerous occasions, but the champions held strong, attacking at every opportunity. That none of their younger teammates crossed double digits makes the partnership that much more valuable. Should Australia go on to win this Test, this partnership would have played a pivotal part. And perhaps the dropped catch by Dravid late in the day. His catching in the slips to spinners has been abysmal this year.

May be the bowlers will hold the ace on day four as well. May be, we are in for another Australia-India classic. Laxman might be itching to put his stamp on another famous chase. Perhaps a Tendulkar masterpiece to on another Test involving Australia. Or may be, the two locals, Siddle and Pattinson will have the last laugh. Or, may be something else. In any case, it promises to be worth it to wake up at 5 am IST to catch the action.

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

December 26, 2011

When Ed Cowan confessed that he’d purchased a ticket quite some time ago to attend the Boxing Day test as a spectator along with a friend, it was hard to conceive how things could dramatically change within a short span of time as he led the Australian batting to top score with 68 on a day where the Indians came out on top for most periods. The hallmark of his innings revolved around his ability to leave as many balls as he could, and put away the bad ones in style. As much as Ian Chappell wishes that Cowan was 21 and not 29, he certainly isn’t old enough to be taken away from the reckoning.

That said, Cowan faced something of a thankless task up on assuming duties in the middle. His solidity at one end predated the Warner assault, although the real challenge of resisting to drive in an Autobahn as against negotiating Mumbai peak-hour traffic required immense mental strength and application. Cowan displayed the maturity of a traditional opening batsman willing to occupy the crease for long periods.

Cowan’s patience at the top of the order is what Australia need © Resources3 News

With Warner falling prey to a bouncer from Umesh Yadav, a similar delivery that he’d dispatched for six over mid wicket during Yadav’s previous over, Marsh came in and left without troubling the scorers after spooning a catch to Virat Kohli at backward point. Yadav possessed the pace and aggression to have a go at the batsmen without fear, although he ended up being expensive by conceding a few runs too many with short deliveries.

Ponting entered the MCG amidst clouded doubts amongst many who felt that he’d possibly be playing his final Boxing Day test. Any reservations over his form were quickly put to rest as he seized the initiative after being hit on the helmet early by a steeping delivery from Yadav – just the kind of incident that would trigger his competitive juices.

The scales seemed to be tilting towards Australia’s favor with both Cowan and Ponting looking strong out in the middle. Ponting’s trademark pulls were on display as he dismissed short deliveries from Zaheer and Umesh Yadav. But it was the young bowler from Vidarbha who had the last laugh when he had Ponting caught at second slip by VVS Laxman. However, signs of Ponting getting back to form will not be a welcome thought in the Indian dressing room.

Yadav’s three wickets came at an expensive economy rate, but in hindsight, his aggressive approach had more positives than negatives at store. It took him a while to understand that the policies of bowling short on a rather spongy wicket was lopsided against him – and the possible returns for that approach being rather modest – that it wasn’t worth sticking to it.

The experience of Zaheer Khan came in handy as he quickly removed Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in successive deliveries. It was the breakthrough India needed when Australia seemed to be coasting along with Cowan firm at one end. The momentum suddenly seemed to assure that India would quickly wipe out the lower order.

The significance of Zaheer’s crucial breakthroughs won’t decide who wins or loses. Rather, the test would focus around his durability in contradicting the legitimate barometer of popular belief that he may not last through the series, given how stiff he occasionally appeared at times. Ishant, at the other end, looked confident and intermittently dangerous although he was unlucky on a few occasions.

India might have well scoffed at DRS as a legalistic nuisance but certainly the stance didn’t help when Brad Haddin was caught plumb in front to Zaheer, only for Marias Erasmus to decide otherwise. Given that both Ed Cowan and Michael Hussey would have survived had the DRS been in place, the decision’s impact wouldn’t have been frowned at too seriously. Hussey finds himself in a similar position as he did back during the 2009 Ashes in England when he was battling to save his place in the test side and nothing short of a repeat of his innings at The Oval back then would cushion his place for the rest of the series.

Despite their batting misgivings, Australia shrugged off the second new ball late evening as they looked favorably gearing towards a total in excess of three hundred. Siddle’s temperament was commendable, as was his intention to get to the non-striker’s end by nudging quick singles. Startling signs of discontent arose through the Indian fielding unit as the seventh wicket partnership crossed fifty runs.

Despite claiming safeguard towards the end of the day, the Australians would feel that they certainly missed out on capitalizing the start provided by Cowan, Ponting and Warner. With the wicket more likely to offer pace and bounce during the subsequent days, they’ll look to gather as much as they can given that the Indians will be chasing a fourth innings target.