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Saturday, November 7, 2015

India beats South Africa at Mohali ~ there was no demon in the pitch !!

Daljit Singh, is now 73 -  have heard this wicketkeeper playing for Delhi in a match against Tamil Nadu.   In 1970s, India had no famous fast bowler – but quality spinners – Bishan Bedi, Chandra, Prasanna and Venkatraghavan. There were loads of them in Ranji Circuit – Shivalkar, Doshi, Hans, Parsanna, and more languishing – not able to break through.

Happy times – at Mohali, India beat South Africa convincingly by 108 runs – and the test concluded in day 3 itself.  The score card reads : India 201 (Vijay 75, Elgar 4-22) and 200 (Pujara 77, Tahir 4-48, Harmer 4-61) beat South Africa 184 and 109 (Jadeja 5-21) by 108 runs
At Mohali, it was spinners all the way – though India folded easily, it appeared that the target of 218 could prove daunting and that as confirmed when the daughty Hashim Amla offered no stroke to Jadeja losing his middle stump.  As Proteas struggled, it appeared more of a formality.  Spinners completed them duly with South Africa managing to bat out only 39.5 overs to go with 68 in the first innings.  The two pacers Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav together bowled 20 overs and there was a solitary wicket from a short ball to Dean Elgar.

In Test, many may not match Ravindra Jadeja as a quality spinner, yet 8-76 is Sir Jadeja’s figures -  his best in the 13 Tests he has played, bettering his figures of 7 for 98 against Australia in Delhi in 2013.  He has reached 50 wickets in just 13 tests - the joint least taken by an India left-arm spinner. Pragyan Ojha had also taken 13 Tests to reach 50 wickets. Jadeja is the 10th Indian left-arm spinner to take 50 or more Test wickets.

After release from the team, Rohit scored a century for Bombay in Ranji and Rahul is waiting on the wings with 2 centuries – one at Australia and other at Sri Lanka. It would be curtains for Shikhar Dhawan who bagged a pair, at least for some time now.

In the 2nd essay – Ashwin had Faf du Plessis, Van Zyl and Steyn, Mishra had AB de Villiers bowled,  Jadeja scalped Philander, Amla, Vilas, Harmer and Imran Tahir – 11.5-4-21-5 !

The wicket certainly was not a bad wicket ~ is it not common to have pitches tailored to suit home team everywhere !  it was not a placid dull – no result pitch.  The rookie Dean Elgar who got 4 wickets with his spin on day 1 went on record stating : “I don’t think it’s a very good cricket wicket,” he said. “It is my personal opinion. It is a result wicket.”  With his limited experience, Elgar equated result wickets as not-very-good wickets !!!  

Was he expecting a green top of Perth or would tall scoring draw good for the game ?

"Honestly?" he asked, and looked hesitantly at the South Africa media manager, without drawing any reaction from her whatsoever. Then he went on regardless: "I don't think it's a very good cricket wicket. It is my personal opinion. It is a result wicket, which is expected when you come here. But kudos to India, they are obviously going to prepare wickets like these against us, I'm sure. And we know coming here, it was going to be very different from what we are used to. So it's not a very good cricket wicket, but it is a result wicket, which can go either way."

On a pitch that had no demon, Indians almost squander the advantage getting bowled out for 201 – that too 4 to Elgar.  Sanjay Bangar immediately said, it actually is much bigger than what it looks !!

Incidentally, on Dec 2012 against Australia, Dean Elgar debuted at Perth – and bagged a pair. Daljit Singh was the curator at Mohali.  He had  said the ageing track might be on the slower side but it will definitely be result-oriented. “It’s a normal Mohali wicket. Our pitch is 23-year-old, so it is not the same old fresh pitch as before. It is an ageing pitch, which has not been re-laid, but it has played well in the matches that have happened in the recent past. “It might have slowed down a bit as it is an old pitch. Like humans, the pitch also grows old. We have repaired the footmarks that were left in the previous matches and it will certainly hold well,” the former first-class player said.

An Indian win [be it at home on tailored wicket too !] does sound sweet for the Indian fan.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

7th Nov. 2015.

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