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Sunday, January 4, 2015

tale of 2 wicketkeeper batsmen - Mahendra Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara ..

When West Indies unceremoniously abandoned their Indian tour, Sri Lanka stepped in as substitute and lost 5-0 with Rohit Sharma scoring a record breaking 264.  Dhoni did not play in that Series.  Now Times Now Chief Arnab Goswami ran a predetermined swipe questioning Dhoni’s decision to quit – he questioned the timing of it, calling it dropping the National interest and went on clamouring more.   As has been seen in the Social media, there is a group of people who say that he deserted the team.  Perhaps  MSD seldom  planned to retire at the end of the third Test. Something happened during this Test that convinced him to make this decision. This could have been mental fatigue reaching its limit or a gut instinct telling him to call it a day. He has been a brave and forthcoming person and his dropping out midway might in no way change India’s fortunes.

India move to Sydney for the final Test, a couple of years ago, in 2012, the ground hosted it its 100th test – a feat matched only by two other grounds – Melbourne and Lords. In that Test, Michael Clarke made an unbeaten triple hundred and India lost badly by an innings and 68 runs.  In Jan 2004, India scored a massive 705 for 7 declared.  Akash Chopra opened  with Virender Sehwag and they scored 45 & 72 respectively. Dravid 38, Partiv Patel 62 made runs; but it was entirely Sachin Tendulkar remaining unbeaten on 241 and VVS Laxman making 178 and their stand of 353 which held the centre stage.  In 2008 here, Harbhajan was  suspended for three matches after the second Test in Sydney  - the monkey gate affair -  but the penalty was subsequently reduced to a fine on appeal. 

One thing not so well appreciated by the media is the fact that with the sudden declaration, MS Dhoni ensured that there is  no farewell Test for India's most successful Test captain, most successful wicketkeeper and most prolific keeper-batsman. No home series sold at exorbitant prices. No home association allowed to exploit the moment. No farewell speeches, no farewell press conference, no lap of honour.  Without any fanfare, after MS Dhoni finished his press conference post the Boxing Day Test, and  the BCCI sent a press release with the news. An hour after India had managed to draw an away Test, the first time in the last 14 Australia-India Tests that a team hasn't lost away from home ~ and vintage Dhoni after successfully defending walked away 10 short of 100 which perhaps would have lured some to continue. 

Now at Sydney, we will have new captain Virat Kohli with uncertainty around a few places in the side. If the training two days before the start of the SCG Test is any indicator, Suresh Raina has now a decent chance to play in Sydney, but despite a nervous debut capped by ordinary shots to get out, KL Rahul has not yet been sidelined.

Nearer, nestled beneath Mount Victoria and Mount Cook, the Basin Reserve is an island of cricket in inner city Wellington. Here our island neighbours made something to remember – all credit due to that warrior Kumar Sangakkara, once a wicketkeeper.  He has now socred 11 200+ scores -  only one behind Don Bradman's record of 12. Five of these scores have come in away Tests, which equals the most by any batsman. Bradman, Wally Hammond and Brian Lara also had five 200-plus scores in away Tests. Sanga has also hit 38 centuries till date.  Following his 203, Sanga said his Test future remained undecided.  Sangakkara had originally planned to quit all formats following the World Cup, which would have made the ongoing match his final Test. However, he has reconsidered that decision after receiving requests to stay, from the selectors and Angelo Mathews, among others.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

4th Jan 2015

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