Posts Tagged ‘India-Autralia series’
In the current Indian test team playing against Australia, we have two players who made their debut at the same time (and quite spectacular ones at that); both subsequently went on to be integral parts of the Indian middle-order and played important roles in the resurgence of Indian cricket in the post-Azhar match-fixing era, and both went on to captain the Indian team.
However, over the last few years, the batting form of both players are supposed to have declined, along with that of two other important middle-order players (dubbed together fancifully as the ‘Fab Four’.) Such is the decline that there has been vociferous calls for these ageing players to step down voluntarily and make way for young blood.
Fair enough, after all the young blood has worked wonders for India at the T20 and ODI levels. Thus, one of these two batsmen has decided to call it a day, and will be retiring at the end of the current test series.
But lets have a quick statistical look at the decline: here is player 1’s record in the last two years (Matches-Runs-Highest-Score-Average-Strike Rate-100s-50s): 23 -1842-239-47.23-59.07-4-9.
Here is player #2 during the same period: 23-1292-129-33.12-40.40-2-7.
So, about six hundred more runs, average of 47 versus 33 (even at a higher strike rate of 59 versus 40), two more centuries and half centuries for one player.
Now guess which player is retiring ?
: Even though the said player is retiring voluntarily, make no mistakes that the circumstances forcing his decision were anything but voluntary.
…..in case you missed it, there was cricket played over the last five days as well. And some top-notch cricket at that with an even contest right upto that fatal Micheal Clarke over.
(Okay this is the final post about the recent test match…..and will try to restrict to cricketing aspects 🙂 )
You have to admit that the Indian team demonstrated a lot of fight in this game. Their preparation was less then ideal: Beaten comprehensively at Melbourne less than a week ago, with no other practice games in between, they lost their frontline pace bowler to injury and then the toss on a good batting pitch. Yet they made a spirited start with two young seamers and an early umpiring error (first of the many to plague the game) notwithstanding, had Australia on the mats at 134/6. Then there was the (in)famous Symonds reprieve where the batsman luckily nicked the ball to the keeper just as Bucknor had settled into his late morning nap. The rest as they say is history. India had other opportunities to draw or even win the game but were outplayed (and some will say, out-umpired).
Irrespective of all the umpiring errors – India got a couple in their favor, especially Sachin’s lbw reprieve, but on the whole the errors were loaded against them – and what could have been, there are several cricketing aspects where India lost the game, or lost the chance to draw it. And not surprisingly they are the two old bogeymens haunting our cricket – fielding and running between the wickets.
In the field, Australia dropped a few catches (even the ever dependable Gilchrist dropped two easy ones) but on the whole they saved quite a few runs due to athletic fielding. The Indians, barring the a couple of hard chances by Yuvraj, took their catches, but allowed Australia too many easy singles. And its those single which I believe were quite crucial. On the crucial fourth day of the match, India, with a still healthy lead of about 56 odd runs, bowled well. Both the seamers and the spinners created a few problems and run scoring was not as easy as the free-flowing Aussies would have liked. Even with the close-in field, boundaries were hard to come by. Yet, both during the Hayden-Jaques and later the Hayden-Hussey and Hussey-Symonds partnerships, the run-rate never went below 3 to 3.5 odd. That’s because of some excellent running. Moreover, it was not just the sprinting capacity of the batsmen, it was their technique to a great extent where Hussey, Hayden and Symonds all used soft-hands to prevent the ball from reaching the fielders quickly, allowing that extra moment to get the run. Of course, the Australians are masters at the cliched ‘converting ones to two and twos to threes’ game. This ability ensured that not only the scoreboard kept ticking over, but no one batsman had to face the probing line from the Indian bowlers for more than 2/3 balls at a stretch, giving them ample breathing space. I my opinion, this was a decisive factor. Unfortunately, during the the Indian innings, this kind of singles were taken only during the Harbhajan-Sachin partnership. Not surprisingly, it was the one partnership that really rankled the Aussies.
Of course, the fact that India was carrying two passengers in the batting line-up: Jaffer and Yuvraj did not help matters. In the fourth innings, we were effectively playing with 7-8 batsmen. When your number 10 and 11 scores freely against Brett Lee while number 1 and 6 can only shuffle at the crease uncertainly, there is something horribly wrong. Jaffer surely needs to be replaced by Sehwag. If not anything, we might get 10-20 odd runs from the wild slashes and thick edges flying over the slip/gully :). As for Yuvraj, he seemed totally disinterested, weather fielding or while batting – it will not be harmful if someone with a better attitude, like Pathan, who could be an useful bowler as well, comes in his place.
But overall, I am quite proud of the manner in which India obviously rocked the Australian domination boat. With a few decisions going the other way, we were even in with a chance of winning till the last day.