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Monday, March 25, 2013

India celebrates whitewash ~ do you remember that Chennai Test

The ignominy is complete; another Test ending in 3 days… honestly, when the set target was 155, it did send some shivers in my mind reminiscing the same target of Chennai  on 22nd Mar 2001…..and another knowledgeable cricket fan shared similar sentiments in the evening.

The dust having settled, it is now easier to talk of the revenge, the whitewash, the strategy, Aussie’s incapacity to play spin,  ~ sure India’s best Series victory in 81 years has lots behind it.  At the outset, Aussies were talking more of Ashes and the antics like ‘homeworkgate’ did not work… Not since the summer of 1978/79 had an Australian team been thrashed by such a margin when Graham Yallop's side was beaten 5-1 by England in the middle of the World Series Cricket era – when many of the country's best players were banned.It is also the first 4-0 defeat since Bill Lawry's men were annihilated by South Africa in 1969/70.

Australia tried to surprise India by opening with Glenn Maxwell alongside David Warner. Maxwell opened the bowling too. Ferozshah Kotla was not exactly a dust bowl; Nathan Lyon who went for runs at Chepauk and was dropped for Hyderabad; took career-best figures of 7-94 and claimed nine wickets for the match, including Sachin Tendulkar for a fourth time – a record for an Australian spinner. Their lower order made runs regularly, Peter Siddle made runs; last match it was Starc who got out tantalizing close to a ton. 

India secured a six wicket victory, propelled by Cheteshwar Pujara (82 not out) but it was not as simple as the scoreline would suggest. At the start of the series MS Dhoni was under the hammer for being the first Indian captain in 28 years to lose a home series to England, that too after being blanked out on away series in England and Australia. Now it is Dhoni’s time to toss a few hammers towards the written press, but he said using the word revenge was all too "confusing." The disadvantage of having lost the toss in all four Tests meant that India had to bat last in three of the four Tests, but had done enough with the ball in the third innings to keep the target down to reasonable numbers. The Delhi Test may have ended inside three days, but it was here that India had to chase their highest target of the series, 155 runs, on the most treacherous wicket of the four Tests.  In the process, Duncan Fletcher has had an extention for doing nothing in shaping the players. 

Murali Vijay denied himself the chance of partying after such a successful series by playing an uncharacteristic reverse sweep, getting bowled.  Sachin provided more ammunition to his uncharitable critics that he never finishes, by getting out towards the end ~ it was Ajinkya Rahana, seemingly good test material; made runs in ODI and somehow made some in T20 too – miffed with the classic choice – incidentally, it is almost a decade or so since a batsman from Mumbai made his debut ~ remember, Mumbai has produced the best of the batsmen : from Vijay Merchant to Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar – and in between many many like Vengsarkar,  Manjrekars, Ravi Shastri, and more. 

Not sure how you all view this…..Ishant Sharma was fined 15% of his match fee for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct.  It was a penalty as per  Article 2.1.6 of the ICC Code of Conduct, "which relates to pointing or gesturing towards the pavilion by a bowler or a fielder upon the dismissal of a batsman in an International Match." ~ and is that singular or are we not seeing such gestures these days on the field……….  Or is that when Aussies does it is their way of aggression. On the second day, Australia opener David Warner was involved in a verbal altercation with Ravindra Jadeja, who asked the umpires to intervene and they subsequently called on captain Shane Watson to speak to Warner. Warner had reacted, seemingly, in response to the Indian batsmen running through the middle of the pitch while going for a couple.

So, a great time, a history of sorts of winning 4 tests in a Series.  Now getting back to that 155 target in the 4th innings in that test no. 1539 at Chepauk in Mar 2001 – Aussies batted first; Slater fell early – Aussies made 326/3 on day 1 with Hayden blazing with a century.  They were eventually all out for 391; Hayden making 203. Harbhajan took 7 for 133.  In that test Samir Dighe and Sairaj Bahutule made their debuts  adding to the strong Bombay contingent of Sachin, Zahir and Nilesh KUlkarni.

India made 501 with all top order contributing and Sachin making a grand 126. In the 2nd Australia were all out for 264 – setting 155. Harbhajan dazzled with 8 for 84.  On day 5 when we gathered in the early morning, Oz were ahead by 131 with 3 wickets in hand… and we were fearing the outcome ~ whether Indians could make the seemingly small but difficult target.  Jason Gillesspee, Glenn Mcgrath, colin Miller and Shane Warne ~ the attack looked awesome.

Sadagopan Ramesh opened with SS Das and made some delectable shots.  When Ramesh was run out if was 76/2 after 19.3 overs; suddenly pressure built up ~ it was 122-5 [Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid gone] Laxman batted beautifully making 66 and when he was out it was 135 and in the same over Miller removed Bahutule too…. 20 to go – 3 wickets in hands, seemed dicey. Sameer Dighe the debutant was solid and Harbhajan scored the winning runs which was a great relief to all of us present in the stadium and those watching on TV.  The last session was so tense, that all results were possible – people did not speak to the other; some did not change their seats, some smoked, some were baiting their nails.. as it ended Indian way. 

This time the same score; the end was not as tense !!! ~ that laidback left handed Sadagopan Ramesh went on to play some more matches, never fulfilled his potential then was seen on silverscreen………. Yes acting in films. 

The man who made some pristine drives off Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, made a small appearance in ‘Santosh Subramaniam’; in a comedy show in TV as Judge and  then had a major role in ‘Potta potti’……..  it was a cinema of two  Kodaivannan and Kolaivannan, of a remote village decide to marry a rich girl. To win the girl they had to win a match; the  ‘good’ hearted Kodaivannan’s team kidnaps the real cricketer, Sadagoppan Ramesh, while he was on his way to Thekkady.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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