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Monday, August 13, 2018

India suffers worst defeat at Lords 2018

He conceded 81 runs in the third ODI, went at 10 and over in the next one, and yet, claimed 6 for 29 in the fifth ODI, in Sri Lanka's 178-run victory over South Africa. So emphatically did Akila Dananjaya bounce back from those Pallekele pastings, that Angelo Mathews has declared him to be "made of steel"

Away, Hanuma Vihari is at the summit of a very elite list. Among all current cricketers - from anywhere on the planet - Vihari's first-class average of 59.45 is the world's best. Steven Smith, the next best, is at 57.27 while Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are in the 54s. After 62 games, it's no mean feat, and while smacking 148 against South Africa A in the second unofficial Test, Vihari swiftly went past 5000 first-class runs as well.

Vaman Kumar bowled leg spin - he took 418 ranji wickets but could play only 2 tests – he certainly was happy with the result of TNPL .. Dindigul Dragons made 117 and Siechem Madurai Panthers were off to a dreaded start – Silambarasan bowled the first over .. of the second ball Thalaivan Sargunam was out lbw, Tushar Raheja edged to slip off the 4th and Rohit played down the wrong line to make it 3 ducks and 3 in an over.. yet   the Madurai team won chasing the target quite comfortably in the end. Arun Karthik made an unbeaten 75.  One good things of this TNPL was Mokit Hariharan of VB Kanchi Veerans.  In Sunday's TNPL game against Dindigul Dragons, Mokit was introduced by his captain B Aparajith in the sixth over, where he bowled orthodox left-arm spin to the right-handed N Jagadeesan before switching to right-arm offspin for the left-handed C Hari Nishant. Although Mokit - a top-order batsman who also bowls occasionally - failed to get a wicket, his unique skill makes him an allrounder of a different kind, forcing opposition batsmen to worry about an extra thing. He finished with 0 for 32 off his four overs and had the second-best economy among the seven bowlers Kanchi Veerans used on Sunday. Mokit joins Akshay Karnewar, whose ambidextrous bowling for Vidarbha in India's domestic T20 competition befuddled the opposition batsmen two seasons ago, and Yasir Jan, the fast bowler from Pakistan who bowls "around 145kmph with his right arm and no less than 135kmph with his left."

Way back 90 years ago, at Brisbane – England made 521 & 342/8 decl – Aussies were bowled out for 122 and in chasing 742 were bowled for paltry 66.  That worst performance came when the great Donald Bradman made his debut – he made  18 & 1 – alongside Bert Ironmonger,  made his debut  at 45 years 237 days, the fourth oldest cricketer to make a Test debut.  A slow-medium left-arm spin bowler, he achieved some remarkable performances during his brief Test career, chief among them being that in 1931-32 when he earned a match analysis of 11 wickets for 24 runs on an awkward pitch at Melbourne and was mainly responsible for the dismissal of South Africa for totals of 36 and 45. In four matches of that Test series, he took 31 wickets for 9.67 runs each.

That is recorded as the worst Test defeat ~ this one at Lords too will rankle badly for Indians.  The scorecard reads : England 396 for 7 decl (Woakes 137*, Bairstow 93, Pandya 3-66, Shami 3-96) beat India 107 (Ashwin 29, Anderson 5-20) and 130 (Ashwin 33*, Anderson 4-23, Broad 4-44) by an innings and 159 runs.  

England completed their total and utter domination of India in the Lord's Test with a win in just 170.3 overs making it the third-shortest Test in the country over the last 100 years. On officially the fourth day of the Test, with the threat of weather around, England added 39 to their overnight lead of 250 before bowling India out for 130, their seventh score under 200 in their last eight innings in England. As had been the case throughout the Test, the weather was with the hosts: overcast enough to aid swing but not wet enough to save India.

Injury was added to insult, quite literally, with Virat Kohli struggling with a back issue and R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya taking nasty blows on their fingers. Kohli didn't take the field on the day, and batted with apparent discomfort. Once again, Ashwin was India's top scorer. M Vijay secured a pair with an inside edge, and KL Rahul fell to one that seamed back in. India's openers now average below 13 in overseas Tests this year. The openers didn't last long enough for Kohli to be allowed to bat at his usual station - he had to serve 37 minutes for not taking the field in the morning. Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara struggled for more than 12 overs before Broad got on a roll. After threatening Rahane's edge regularly with movement against the slope off length balls, he ended an over with a full and wide sucker ball, drawing the edge. Pujara fought on for 87 balls, to be bowled once again after getting in in tough conditions. Since making his debut, no Indian batsman has been bowled as many times as he has.  Dinesh Karthik did not contribute.  Those difficult batting conditions were compounded with uneven bounce. Both Pandya and Ashwin took bows on their fingers. However, they soldiered on, taking every scoring opportunity, taking India past 100.

Accepting mistakes committed by his batsmen is becoming a norm for India captain Virat Kohli. For the second Test in succession Kohli admitted the batsmen had failed, including himself on this occasion, and that is reason India were "outplayed". But despite the disappointment he also spoke of the motivation to keep the series alive by winning at Trent Bridge next week. Although Indian fans will now fear this Test series is moving along the same lines as that of the nightmarish tours in 2011 and 2014, when India lost 4-0 and 3-1, Kohli stressed his players ought to take on the challenge at Trent Bridge head on.  This is  the first time that India have lost a Test match by an innings under Virat Kohli. It was in England again that they were last beaten by an innings - The Oval in 2014 - although never in the past 44 years have they fared so poorly at Lord's. Meanwhile, for England, it was their first innings victory at Lord's since the 2010 Test against Pakistan.

Time for some wholesome changes in the Opening, Middle-order and wicket-keeping slots – though the bench strength in omnibus squad of 18 is not too encouraging.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th Aug 2018.

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