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Saturday, January 6, 2018

South Africa pins down India ~ Hardik Pandya dazzles !!

After many years, India toured Pakistan – sort of disastrous tour; Indian spinners were decimated, Erapalli Prasanna bowled 25 overs for 94 runs without a wicket in the 2nd test, was not even given a bowl in the 2nd and that turned out to be his last Test.  In the 3rd One dayer at Sahiwal,  Indian captain Bishan Bedi called his batsmen from the field - they needed only 23 off 14 balls with eight wickets in hand - as a protest against the bowling of Sarfraz Nawaz, who sent down four bouncers on the trot, none of which were called a wide.

In that tour in the First test at Faisalabad, Mushtaq Mohammad won the toss and the Pakistani openers — the belligerent Majid Khan and the gutsy Sadiq Mohammad  expected as usual a couple of overs from trundlers  to take the shine off the ball before the spin trinity of Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, and EAS Prasanna would take over.  In that match the bowler from Haryana made his debut, ran in fast and let some rip off the field.   The fury and bounce made the Paki batsman call for helmet, which all along only Indians had to wear and none against India !! 

In fact in the 2nd Test, Kapil Dev that young nippy pacer had Sunil Gavaskar opening the attack, bowling 4 overs and in the 2nd it was Bishan Singh Bedi.  Have read that in that test, in the 2nd innings, Kapil Dev was sent in as a night watchman (scored 43) – had to face a couple of overs, and in one, he hoisted over midwicket for a six.  As he returned a furious Bedi was to greet him and scold him on his reckless way of playing – the expectation was a nightwatchman should only defend a few balls and ensure that no wicket falls – scoring runs was not the expectation. 

Those days the matches were telecast in Doordarshan (black & white and with a single camera – from one end bowler would come running in to you and in the next, bowler would run away !]  ~ the man born this day 6th Jan – Kapil Dev exhibited greatness in that tour itself – bowling fast and then scoring runs fast, and he could hit big sixers !! ~ was a treat to watch, though some would criticize that he tries to play more on the On and thus is not playing well !!

In the 3rd Test at Karachi, in Nov 1978, Sunil Gavaskar scored century in each innings.  The batting line up was Chetan Chauhan, Surinder Amarnath, Gundappa Viswanath,  Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohinder Amarnath, Syed Kirmani  - Kapil, Karsan Ghavri, Bishan Bedi and Chandrasekhar completed the playing eleven.   Against the attack of Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Sikhander Bakht, Mustaq Muhammed and Iqbal Qasim, Karsan Ghavri (42) and Kapil dev (53) had a good partnership and the hard hitting Kapil was the last man out.

This year in Sri Lanka,  Hardik Pandya made his debut.  At Pallekele, Indians were on a roll.  Hardik Pandya registered his maiden hundred in first-class cricket taking the total to  487.  Hardik put on 62 with Kuldeep Yadav for the eighth wicket and 66 with Umesh Yadav for the last wicket. During that epic innings, he hoisted Malinda Pushpakumara for 26 runs  2 fours and 3 sixers eclipsed 24 runs scored by Sandeep Patil off Bob Willis in Manchester in 1982, and by Kapil Dev off Eddie Hemmings at Lord's in 1990.   The  7 Sixes hit by Hardik is the joint-second most in an innings for India.  There were comparisons with legendary Kapil Dev.  Two months ago, when Hardik Pandya was rested from the Test team, he spoke about playing in South Africa in this way.

Living up to his own lofty billing, the 24-year old allrounder defied one of the most fearsome fast-bowling attacks in history to make 93 off 95 balls. South Africa did eventually secure a lead of 77 runs, bowling India out for 209, but it might have come at a sizeable cost.   Indian top order struggled, yesterday they lost wickets with memes coming up on whether they would avoid follow on making 86.  Today they made only 29 in the first 18 overs - the point when they lost their first wicket of the day. Back then, the plan was to survive. Invest time in the middle as the surface flattens out and hope to have wickets in hand when the bowlers start to tire.  Hardik Pandya played a different game, the attacking game and made runs bringing lot of respectability to the total and semblance chance to the team pinned down.

Pandya's day was not quite done yet. He came on second-change for India and dismissed both of South Africa's openers but their lead is already at 142 and the Test remains in their control.

Hail Hardik Pandya !!

6th Jan 2018.

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