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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bangalore Test : India wins - Steve Smits waits for Dressing Room Review

Happy moment for Team India – bouncing back into the Series at Bangalore beating Australia by 75 runs : the short scorecard may not reveal all that boiled - India 189 (Rahul 90, Lyon 8-50) and 274 (Pujara 92, Rahane 52, Rahul 51, Hazlewood 6-67) beat Australia 276 (S Marsh 66, Renshaw 60, Jadeja 6-63) and 112 (Ashwin 6-41) by 75 runs.  BCCI site read DRS is Dressing room Review system !!

We learn lot of things from Cricket [of course not Sledging, which is the prerogative of arrogant Aussies !] .. .. heard of ‘brainfade’ (noun) :  A temporary inability to concentrate or think clearly.  Heard it twice in four days.  When Virat Kohli was dismissed 2nd time in a row shouldering arms to Nathan Lyon, former Australian batsman and current national selector Mark Waugh said Virat  is suffering from a “brain fade” and said his “thinking negatively” is rubbing off to his teammates. Today, Steve Smith admitted of a ‘brainfade’ !

In a topsy-turvy match, fiery send-offs administered by Mitchell Starc and Steve O’Keefe could also come under the microscope, although many fans would argue the drama contributed to one of the most memorable Tests in recent memory.  The over-the-top reactions of Starc and O’Keefe could result in fines, but it will be interesting to see whether the umpires make their determinations with context in mind.  Cameras and the stump microphone captured Starc clearly telling Indian batsman Karum Nair to “F*** off”, while O’Keefe was spoken to at length by umpires for an aggressive exchange with Cheteshwar Pujara following a wicket.  There was ugly showing off to Abhinav Mukund, which was partly retorted by Ravi Ashwin .. ..

Chasing a challenging but by no means impossible 188 for victory, Australia lost 6/11 either side of tea to surrender their series lead. Smith top-scored for Australia with 28 while Ashwin reigned supreme with a match-winning 6/41.  With this Ash was taken 25 Five-fors in just 47 Tests - the quickest among all bowlers. The previous fastest to 25 five-fors was Richard Hadlee in 62 matches. With 269 Test wickets, Ash went past Bishan Bedi's tally of 266 wickets.

All that was clearly overshadowed by  Kohli's post-match bombshell where he accused Australia's of consulting their dressing room over DRS while batting and in the field. Relations between the two sides are now at its lowest point since the Monkeygate scandal of 2007-08.  Smith admitted he had been guilty of a "brain fade" but his explanation did not satisfy an angry Kohli – writes Sydney Morning Herald – but was that so simple !! 

The day started at India 213/4 just 126 runs ahead – but it appeared fragile – a collapse and the Series could be there in Aussie hands.   It almost happened – a six-wicket haul from Josh Hazlewood as India were bowled out for 274. That gave Australia renewed hope: on a cracking surface with variable bounce, a target of 188 would be tough but, they hoped, not impossible.  Indian are not good in using  DRS as Aussies looked gaining lot of ground. Australia knew that to succeed in their chase, they would have to score quickly. The loss of Matt Renshaw early, caught behind to a fine seamer from Ishant, did not stop them doing just that. David Warner launched one six on his way to 17 from 25 balls before he was out  lbw trying to sweep Ashwin. Warner asked for a review but by the barest of margins, HawkEye showed the impact in line with off stump and umpire's call for clipping off, and Warner was gone.

Shaun Marsh was out lbw shouldering arms to a delivery from Umesh Yadav around the wicket. An uncertain Marsh consulted with his partner, Steven Smith, unwilling to risk Australia's final review, Marsh walked off- and when Smith too got out, there were palpable tension on field.  It took India less than eight overs after tea to wrap up the win. Starc was bowled by a straight ball from Ashwin, and Jadeja was then rewarded for his outstanding second-innings bowling by rattling the stumps of Steve O'Keefe.

India has never been an admirer of DRS and yesterday  Josh Hazlewood rapped Kohli, Umpire  Llong ruled him out. Kohli reviewed immediately, seemingly confident he had nicked the ball. But even with replay after replay, angle after angle, and the assistance of Ultra Edge, the TV umpire Richard Kettleborough said he could not  determine conclusively whether the first impact with the ball had been pad or the toe of the bat.  It was back to Umpire, who did not reverse his own decision .. .. ..

Today, things were totally different – Virat Kohli was rightly annoyed stating that Australia crossed the line "that you don't cross on a cricket field" when it comes to DRS protocols. Kohli accused Australia of taking help from the dressing room on at least three occasions before making their mind up on reviews in the Bengaluru Test.  Kohli said he had made the umpires aware of it on the earlier two occasions before the third one played out in full view. When Smith was ruled out lbw in a tense chase of 188, he looked towards the dressing room after having chatted with non-striker Peter Handscomb, apparently for clues on whether to review the call or not. Umpire Nigel Llong intervened immediately, and sent him on his way. Llong also prevented a seemingly livid Kohli from getting into that conversation.

Aussies fancy themselves being close to controversies – today Smith said it was a communication breakdown with Shaun Marsh saying  he told Marsh to go upstairs, but Marsh misheard him and trudged off — but wait far too long waiting for some signal from dressing room for reviewing.  If only Match Referee is stern, there could be fines aplenty -  Mitchell Starc, Steve O’Keefe and Cheteshwar Pujara all captured on camera delivered withering on-field sprays.

One gets to  read on web that Donald Bradman, the great batsman was also one of the most divisive and the strict Protestant often clashed with Catholic members of the team. He had issues with Bill O’Reilly and also Keith Miller, but they were overshadowed by his dealings with Catholic Jack Fingleton. In a Fingleton biography it was claimed that during a match in Sydney, Bradman learned Fingleton’s bat had been sprinkled with holy water by a Catholic bishop. When he was out cheaply Bradman passed Fingleton on his way to the middle and sledged him: “We’ll see what a dry bat will do out there.” Don scored a ton, as he did.

In NZ Series, Hazlewood was caught on the stump microphone saying, “who the f--- is the third umpire” after an lbw referral that correctly upheld Kane Williamson as not out. Nothing can ever beat that infamous incident (Greg your underarm stinks wrote one !) – in Feb 1981 at Melbourne in  best of 3 finals of B&H – Kiwis  needed eleven runs to win with Bruce Edgar batting at one end - Australian captain Greg Chappell asked his younger brother Trevor Chappell to bowl that last over.. NZ scored four runs and lost two wickets in the first five balls. Seven runs were needed for a win and six runs for a tie.. rabbit Brian McKechnie was to face that last ball -  not willing to take any chances, after a consultation, brother of the famous Chappels delivered underarm.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
7th Mar 2017.


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