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Monday, February 17, 2014

McCullum stands tall at Basin Reserve.... will he declare ? ~will India survive ??

A man aware of the records and yet chose to…. Played for a decade = 104 Tests made 7525 runs ~ that was Mark Taylor….. one would ever remember that test in Peshawar in Oct 1998.  If ever a sound typified a Test then it was the mellow thwack of the ball meeting the middle of Mark Taylor's bat. On a flat, evenly grassed  typical Paki wicket, Taylor never looked like getting out.  On day 2,  Australia added 375 for the loss of three wickets. At stumps, they were 599 for four, with Taylor unbeaten on 334 and level with Bradman's Australian record at Headingley in 1930. He clipped the final ball of the day, from Aamir Sohail, towards square leg, Ijaz, threw down a hand and managed to stop a single. Taylor had batted for exactly 12 hours and 564 balls, hitting 32 fours and a six.  More drama was to unfold next day morning as Taylor declared ~ he was the Captain and he declared without having a go at Bradman’s record…..  some acclaimed it as a sacrifice – some said it was just a decision…. ~ and what would happen in Wellington tomorrow, before you and me get up on 18th Feb 2014 ????

New Zealand has been a British colony and has many colonial vestiges.. Wellington is a small industrial town in rural Somerset.  Miles away, nestled beneath Mount Victoria and Mount Cook, the Basin Reserve is an island of cricket. Spectators are accommodated on a grass bank on the eastern side of the ground, a natural sun trap which also provides shelter from the notorious southerly winds. The ground is protected by Act of Parliament and is New Zealand's only sport ground on the National Heritage list. Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand.  It is named after Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century. Duke of Wellington is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, derived from Wellington in Somerset.

Many of us would recall the hype,  excitement, speculation and more associated with the IPL version 1 way back in April 2008.  T20 itself was new to some; newer still was the concept of club teams and loyalty to them ! "Eight teams, without any players, only warriors" was the maxim for the inaugural tournament.  On 18th Apr 2008, Chinnaswamy stadium was set ablaze by the same man who has snatched away what one thought as a victory in the 2nd Test at Wellington.  On that day Dravid won the toss and sent KKR captained by Sourav Ganguly in.  The opening ceremony was  spectacular, more spectacular was the firework of Brendon McCullum whose brutal assault of scoring  158 from a mere 73 deliveries, propelled them to a huge win ~ and soon, we were stamping the little McCullum as a T20 specialist.

Today at close 06.15 pm, the same Brendon McCullum was waving his bat at this Wellington crowd….. his team was in dire straits of 52/3 when he walked in; he saw two more fall ………. Now they are miles ahead and this man is tanding tall unbeaten with 281; just 19 away from that awesome triple and whether he would declare before that is a Q ? Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling added 194 to their overnight 158-run stand without ever looking in trouble, helping New Zealand take the lead to 325 by stumps. When the two came together, New Zealand were 152 in arrears. This match cannot be viewed in mere numbers and that would take away a lot from the spirited display of McCullum.  With 281 he is only behind Martin Crowe who was out for 299 at Basin Reserve.  McCullum's score is the fourth-highest by a batsman in the second innings. Should he score a triple-century, he will be only the second batsman to do so in the second innings after Hanif Mohammad. This is McCullum's third score of 200 or more in Tests and all of them have come against India.

There are already 27 scores of 300+ and two – just a single short.  The top 5 are Gary Sobers 365 which stood for long as the record; Jayawardene 374; Lara upstaged 375; Hayden held the record for a shortwhile at 380- soon to be overtaken by that epic 400 by Lara. India’s only triple centurion Sehwag has in fact done that twice- one at Multan in March 2004 and another at our own Chepauk in Mar 2008……

Would the Kiwi Captain take the plunge saying 325 is enough or would he bat on for half an hour or so – making a 300 in the process remains to be seen

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Feb 2014 @ 07.00 pm.  

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