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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sixathon at Bangalore... lows and highs of India over the years....

India won in style … won the ODI series at home against Australia after long ….that Shikar Dhawan catch would remain etched in our memory for long… youngsters would remember this ‘Sixathon’ at Bangalore…. For those of us following Cricket for many years ~ so much of mixed feelings. 

Way back in Dec 1974, India won the Test at Calcutta against the mighty West Indies led by Clive Lloyd………there were two debutants in that test – Anshuman Gaekwad and Karsan Devraj Ghavri ….both went on the play longer……….. but not many of  you know that it was one of those Tests when India had two fast bowlers opening the attack – Madanlal and Ghavri.. Ghavri in fact bowled 14 overs and took 2 wickets in that match…. In the next match at Chepauk, [remembered for the win and that brilliant knock by the little Master Gundappa Vishnawath on a green top against quality Andy Roberts] – Ghavri chipped in with a good knock of unbeaten 35 and a good partnership, which was instrumental in setting up a good target for an Indian win…  ~ a target of 255 for Greenidge, Fredricks, Kallicharan, Lloyd, Richards, Murray, Boyce, Holder….fell short by 100 runs.

In the first match of the Inaugural Cricket World Cup in 1975 – remember it was  60 overs aside – England amassed runs, India crawled with Sunil Gavaskar remaining unbeaten on 36 in 60 overs, Ghavri had match figures of 11-1-83-0 – the costliest of those times…………………………this friendly left arm medium pacer was quite effective and was a good bowler who turn spinners too….

Same year after the Indian winning the trophy in 1983, WI toured India – the 4th match at Keenan Stadium, Jamshedpur, we were anxiously sitting in front of black and white TV – Desmond Haynes was out for 1 – but Greenidge and Richards shared 221 run partnership as bowlers were hoisted to all parts of the ground – the total was ungettable 333 in 45 overs. Greenidge blazed 115 off 134 balls with 5 sixers and Vivian Richards made 149 off 99 with 3 sixers; Dujon made 49 off 20 ~ the WI fans were to ridicule us for so many years citing that match – it was ‘mayhem at Jamshedpur’……

This Series has been different – the two Indian wins have come chasing 360 and 350 – and yesterday at Bangalore, there was another 709 runs scored – in a match of sixers.  The scorecard reads :  India 383 for 6 (Rohit 209, Dhoni 62, Dhawan 60) beat Australia 326 (Faulkner 116, Maxwell 60) by 57 runs.

I have not been a supporter of Rohit Sharma and have questioned the wisdom of having him in the team, given his failures and more questionably, the strike rate….. not a great runner too between the wickets.  This series belonged to Virat Kohli for his 2 faster hundreds and at Bangalore, he was run out with a poor communication with rohit…. It is reported that the only  time Virat Kohli had been run out for a duck in ODIs - in Bulawayo in 2010 - Rohit Sharma went on to make 114 in that game.  At Bangalore, Kohli was run out for a duck……….Rohit Sharma made an unbelievable 209, off 158 balls with 12 fours and 16 sixes

Still if I were to downplay it, it is the slowest of the three double-centuries in Men’s one-day internationals. Virender Sehwag's 219 came off 149 balls (strike rate 146.97), while Sachin Tendulkar's unbeaten 200 was off 147 (136.05). Rohit's strike rate was 132.27.  At Bangalore, in the last six overs, India scored 115 runs, - it was  15, 16, 26, 20, 17, 21. It's the most runs scored in the last six overs of an ODI between two Test-playing sides in the last ten years. Those above this had come against USA and Nederlands.   The only two instances of more runs were when New Zealand scored 122 against USA at The Oval in the 2004 Champions Trophy, and South Africa scoring 118 against Netherlands at Amstelveen in May 2013.

On the Deepavali day, it really rained 6s – Rohit Sharma hit 16 sixes –a World Record, India had 19 in all – and Australia later matched them.  Rohit in partnership with captain MS Dhoni plundered 167 runs off 94 balls for the fifth wicket. India scored 151 in the last ten overs, of which 101 came in the last five. Rohit had gone past 100 off 114 balls. And then he went past 200 off his 156th delivery. At the start of the final over, Rohit was on 197 ~ reached double in style driving Clint McKay over the cover and smashing the next over mid wicket.   In the chase, it started a bit too later but threatened everyone…… Glenn Maxwell who raised eye-brows when bought for a fortune hit his first ball for six, and then pillaged Vinay to sprint to 28 off 6 balls. He swiped and slugged his way to equalling Simon O'Donnell's 18-ball record for the fastest Australian half-century, and eventually fell for 60 off 22 deliveries. The wounded Watson hit more off Vinay and the most astonishing performance was that of  Faulkner, who added 115 runs with McKay for the ninth wicket.

Every Indian sighed relief with Dhawan taking that good catch … the Press which censured Dhawan for his gesture against injured Watson, remained mute when Faulkner kept arguing with field Umpires after that catch !!!

Sidhu from being called a stroke-less wonder came to be known as ‘six hitting Sidhu’ ~ the otherwise docile Rohit Sharma now holds the record for the max no. of sixers in an innings – 16; followed by Watson (15); XM Marshall of NZ (12); Sanath Jayasuriya and Shahid Afridi (11)

That record of Ghavri was broken later – Zaheer, Srinath, Ishant all have give more…….   Internationally it is ML Lewis who have given the most 113 in 10 overs; R Vinay Kumar had the ignominy of joining that 100 club yesterday, becoming the the top run giver for India – giving away 102 in 9 overs… Only Lewis, Martin Snedden [in 12 overs in 1983]; Tim Southee and BV Vitori of Zimbabwe are above him

The ODI series has come to an end as India would now wait for innings from the master Sachin Tendulkar inching closer to his retirement on 200th test.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
3rd Nov. 2013

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