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Sunday, December 18, 2016

KL Rahul's day out at Chepauk ~ and the missing single that saddens him !!

Sure, you rode a bi-cycle in your life… as all of us know, it is the roller chain that transfers power from the pedals to the back wheel, driving the cycle forward ~ and as could be seen the pedal has teeth … is it the available teeth or those missing teeth that moves the cycle forward ?

At Chepauk, in Test no. 2241, the day clearly belonged to KL Rahul – who however would rue the day !!  - Rahul managed a wonderfully fluent century, the fourth and the highest of his career;  his first in India. But for an aberration against Rashid just before the close, he would be celebrating wildly tonight.

Chennai has not witnessed any battles and is not the land of any kingdoms.  Many of us who have lived for ages in Chennai may not have seen this !  Sandwiched between landmarks, this has often escaped public glare.  On the one side is the Beach Road –  Opposite to Triumph of Labour Statue [Uzhaippalar Silai] lies the Ezhilagam Complex housing many State Govt. offices.  On the banks of Buckingham canal which once flowed and thorough which boat transportation occurred till Pondy, is a century old  building with a colourful history behind – touted as a fine example of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, a style for which Madras became famous. It is called Chepauk palace and on the other banks is the famous Chepauk stadium – MA Chidambram Stadium.

Here are some tests… Test No. 708 – India won by 4 wickets against England;  Test No. 752 ever remembered by that classy knock of Vishwanath; great bowling of Andy Roberts and the defeat (100 runs at that) suffered by Clive Lloyd against Pataudi led Indians in 1975; Test no. 841 Kalicharran led WI lost to Gavaskar captained India in 1979; Test no. 869 – grand Indian win against Pakistan in 1980 – Kapil Dev Man of the Match, Sandip Patil made his debut;  Test no. 1089 Vivian Richards led WI lost badly (255 runs) to Ravi Shastri led Indians – Hirwant made dream debut taking 16 wickets – WV Raman and Ajay Sharma also made their debuts….   

                  ~ all Indian wins …. Not the only link… all Chepauk tests… and more importantly the Pongal Tests !!!...............  the ground at Chepauk has been in existence from imperial days – the first ever test here was in 1933-34 when Douglas Jardine played Ck Nayudu led team.  Crowds have always come in large numbers  ~ it is not only the numbers – they are reputed to be most knowledgeable and appreciative.. somehow some sheen has been lost after Pongal tests. It was unwise to have a match in Dec ~ cyclone Vardah almost proved that – yet the Test is on [after the tearful farewell to respectful CM Ms J Jayalilathaa]

I remember seeing that Pongal Test at Chepauk in Jan 1977.  Critics booed India for their lacklustre performance.  Those were the days when Test matches had a rest day ! In that Test no. 793, England opened with Dennis Amiss and Bob Woolmer who was born in Kanpur and later died in Jamaica mysteriously during WC 2007, when he was the coach of Pakistan.  Tony Greig was the captain- John Brearly, Roger Tolchard, Derek Randall, Alan Knott, John Lever, Chris Old, Bob Willis and Derek Underwood played and were all out for 262.  Bishan Bedi took 4; Madanlal and Prasanna 2 apiece.  India could muster only 164 – Lever took 5/59.  England were bowled out for 185 [Chandra took 5/50; Prasanna 4/55] and chasing 284, Indians were bundled out for 83 – Willis  3/18 and Underwood 4/28 inflicting the damage. .. .. and that was the infamous Lever Vaseline test too !!!

Today, (18th Dec 2016) Chepauk was on its feet. It was deafening. KL Rahul and Virat Kohli sprinted; Kohli rejoiced Rahul’s three figure mark midway. .. .. sadly, towards the close of play – while everyone was celebrating Rahul’s feat, he perhaps would be melancholic, having been dismissed for 199 – 1 run short of a maiden 200.  He joined a sad but illustrious list of 9 Batsmen who have been dismissed for 199 in Tests - KL Rahul is the second Indian in this list, after Mohammad Azharuddin, who fell for 199 against Sri Lanka in Kanpur 30 years ago. In all there have been 11 instances of batsmen scoring 199 in Tests, including two occasions when batsmen were not out at that score.  All those happened after 1984.  Mudassar Nazar was the 1st ; Kumara Sangakkara and Andy Flower remained unbeaten on 199*

All headlines of Cricket today is - KL Rahul fell one short of a maiden double-hundred after leading India's response to England's 477 in excellent batting conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Having been at the crease for more than 100 overs, Rahul fell with stumps imminent. He walked off distraught, after reaching for a loopy, wide ball from Adil Rashid and spooning a catch to cover point.  At stumps, India trail England by 86 with six wickets in hand, with Nair batting on 71. With him on 17 was M Vijay, who came in at No. 6 rather than his customary position at the top of the order because of a shoulder injury sustained while fielding.

In the last ball of 82nd over, with Rahul on 154* - there was a single off Joe Root with Nair running to non-striker end.  The throw was bad, and a ruing Johnny Bairstow did not take the bails off – was it frustration or a fumble ? – Rahul was clearly out of the crease then !!

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Dec 2016.

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