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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nagpur Test - no turns - only spin - SA all out for 79 !

Do you know Amar Karlekar ?

Vidarbha  is the eastern region of Maharashtra, comprising Nagpur Division and Amravati Division. Its former name is Berar (Varhad in Marathi).  Situated in central India, Vidarbha has its own rich cultural and historical background distinct from rest of Maharashtra. The largest city in Vidarbha is Nagpur, the second largest is Amravati while Akola stands third followed by fourth largest city Chandrapur.

After day 2 the Nagpur test is poised for a finish and it is easy to blame the pitch as underprepared – this is not the first time – most countries tailor wickets to suit them – yet the slump of South Africa who scored only 79,  their lowest score since readmission, is the result of more than just a snake pit of a surface and shrewd spinners for opponents.
photo credit : bcci.tv

Ravichandran Ashwin is on a roll – today he had magical figures of 16.1-6-32-5 -  SA all out in 33.1 overs – and yes, Ashwin has bowled right through the innings from one end.

In test no. 2175 in Aug 2015 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Stuart Broad seamed the ball off a green pitch and rans through Australia, who were  bowled out for 60. Their innings lasted only  18.3 overs.  Russell Domingo, South Africa's coach, refused to criticise the Nagpur pitch - and gave credit to India's spinners for bowling with far more control than those from his side - but seemed to hint at the loss of those vast possibilities while describing how difficult batting had been, for both sides, during this series.

82 was the previous lowest total by a team against India in Tests - Sri Lanka in Chandigarh in 1990-91.  Now South Africa have been bowled out for 79 in Nagpur. It was South Africa's lowest total since their return to Test cricket in 1992. Their previous lowest had also come against India, in Johannesburg in 2006, when they were dismissed for 84.  

In Test 3 – score card reads South Africa 79 (Ashwin 5-32, Jadeja 4-33) and 32 for 2 need another 278 to beat India 215 (Vijay 40, Harmer 4-78, Morkel 3-35) and 173 (Dhawan 39, Tahir 5-38) – yes no batman has so far made a 50 – Murali Vijay’s 40 in first innings has thus far been the highest !!

Way back in Test no. 47 in Feb 1896, SA were bowled out for 30.  GA Lohmann had figures of  9.4-5-7-8.  Again in Test no. 153 in June 1924 at Edgbaston, when England won by an innings and 18 runs  - SA made a mere 30.  AER Gilligan had 6 for 7 and MW Tate had 4 for 12.

In Cricket (read as Test Cricket) – towards the close of the play i.e., in the dusk when you have only a few overs left – at the fall of the wicket, to protect the higher order batsman – a lower order batsman would come padded up …….towards the close of play, their directive is to play out the couple of overs and frustrate the bowlers further the next morning……. It is protecting the wicket in the night and hence called ‘nightwatchman’ in Cricket.  In theory, no team would like to lose two top quality batsman in quick succession, when lights are falling and when the day’s end is closer…….

Remember that way back in 1978, Kapil Dev was sent out as a night watchman – hit a towering six and when he got back at the close of play, the captain Bishan Bedi chided him for doing what he did – scoring runs – hitting a six !!!  ~ so theoretically, nightwatchman is expected to defensively bat it out and not try to score runs – ruling out any risks  !!! 

Jason Neil Gillespie played for Ahmedabad Rockets in ICL…  had in Test No. 1799 at Chittagong stadium in April 2006 – walked in as a nightwatchman at 120/2 – scored unbeaten at 201, taking the total to 581/4.... he thus has the unique distinction of the  first  (and only one thus far) nightwatchman to score a double-century.  His figures of 3/11 & 0/14 with that double ton won him the Man of the match as also the Player of the Series….after that series he went in to oblivion and never played for Australia again is the irony !!!

Here is an interesting trivia : Close of play
•           - day 1 - South Africa 1st innings  11/2  (D Elgar 7*,   HM Amla 0*, 9 ov)
•           - day 2 - South Africa 2nd innings 32/2 (D Elgar 10*, HM Amla 3*, 14 ov)
In both the innings, ImranTahir was sent in as nightwatchman – in the 1st he got out to Sir Jadeja for 4 and today he made 8 – got out to Amit Mishra.

Amar Karlekar,  is the Vidarbha Cricket Association curator. He had said a day earlier to the match that the pitch in Nagpur will not vary much from the turning track in Mohali.  The curator told that the Ranji match between Vidarbha and Assam was played on the same pitch in order to test it. The nature of the pitch became quite noticeable when the Vidarbha spinners grabbed 16 wickets in total to give the hosts a win.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Nov. 2015.

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