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Friday, December 28, 2018

Has Bumrah's fiery spell won Melbourne Test !!


Fifteen wickets tumbled on day 3 today at  maligned MCG pitch as a deck which had been slammed for being ‘fl aaa t’  lifeless belatedly delivered joy for the bowlers.   It is not often one would still relish a happy feeling when 5 down for 44 .. as Pat Cummins reduced India to shambles – we have not seen Cheteshwar Pujara & Virat Kohli failing to open their account – Hanuma Vihari not the right guy to open, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma too getting out – Rishab Pant out in the middle with debutant Mayank Agarwal .. ..  Indian fans are hopeful of a win here and – the coveted Border-Gavaskar trophy too ! – let us wait for a day more for that !!   ~ the belonged to  Jasprit Bumrah, called a “genius” on air by Australia’s former captain Michael Clarke.  Bumrah’s career-best figures of 6/33 in 15.5 overs  made him the first bowler from the subcontinent to take a five-for or more in South Africa, England and Australia in the same year.
pic credit : guardian.co.uk

Melbourne is gearing up for New Year celebrations with glittering fireworks (whether they are eco-friendly, whether they will emit obnoxious gases are out of Q as there is no Supreme court ban over there !!) From a top-secret location, white vans are being packed with explosives and transported around the Melbourne CBD for a New Year’s Eve fireworks display promised to be like nowhere else in the world.From the ground to the tops of 22 buildings and spread over a 7km radius, 14 tonnes of fireworks worth $234,000 will be set off to welcome 2019.Design work started in March for the 10-minute sound and light show, set to music of Indigenous rapper Adam Briggs, and dozens of workers have already spent more than a week setting it up.This year’s special effects include flying dragons, swirling across the sky like the mythical creatures they’re named for, and the personal favourite of display manager Rusty Johnson, the spider shells with their eight distinctive legs weaving a web over the city.

Will Australia bite the dust ?  ~ there is already much firework off the field – by the interview and follow-up of the ball-tampering episode.  It’s long been alleged that David Warner issued the "code red" on Cameron Bancroft. That Warner asked the junior player to carry out the dirty work of scratching the ball with sandpaper.  Not sure, if Bancroft and Warner have spoken to each other since the South African tour, but the Bancroft interview with Adam Gilchrist seems like the junior opener wanted to throw Warner under the bus. He definitely got the jump on Warner and it seemed like payback in full.How could these two guys open the batting together again?

Back on the ground at famous MCG India declared their first innings at 443 for 7 down (C Pujara 106, V Kohli 82; P Cummins 3-72); had Aussies pinned down – 151 all out 151 (M Harris 22, T Paine 22; J Bumrah 6-33).  If one hailed declaration by India as an aggressive move, it will be too difficult to explain why follow-on was not imposed and why India chose to bat and ended the day at 5-54 (M Agarwal 28no, H Vihari 13; P Cummins 4-10) – the oft repeated excuses would be giving breather to bowlers and avoiding playing the last innings.  Aussies were bowled out in 66.5 overs and other than Jadeja it was Bumrah who bowled 16.5 – so rest was not the answer.  If follow-on had been enforced, India had a huge 291 run lead – Australia could not have exceeded this to make India bat again – and if so, the chase should have been for a small number .. so what explains the illogical decision of chosing to bat through ! ~ anyway, India need not think of another possible declaration as Cummins has almost closed them with his incisive spell. Cummins,  on a hat-trick, gave the 33,447 fans plenty to cheer about late but India looms as the only team that will emerge triumphant.His outstanding spell left  many wondering what could have been had Australian shown more application with the bat.  The Indian score of  5/54  still translates to  346 ahead. Given the way Australia surrendered in their first innings, India most likely have enough already. History suggests they have.The highest fourth-innings run chase in Melbourne is 332, set way back in 1928-29.

The home team's technical deficiencies were brutally exposed by a clinical Indian attack which ruthlessly dismantled Justin Langer's inexperienced batting line-up. Apart from Shaun Marsh, who was befuddled by a wicked slower ball from Jasprit Bumrah, their frontline batsmen triggered their own downfall.Though Marsh has been applauded by teammates for his role with the ball here, he has made only 119 at 9.9 since his agenda-setting 96 in Durban.Australia capitulated for 151 in only 67 overs on a pitch that had been slammed by critics for being too friendly to batsmen. At the corresponding stage of their first innings, India were 2/165. Four Indian players faced 100 balls, none did for Australia. Six Indians passed 30, Australia's top score was 22.

Jasprit Bumrah with sling action  was the destroyer, claiming a career-best 6/33 – the third best return by an Indian bowler behind Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev. The paceman with the short run-up and unorthodox action attacked the stumps and was rewarded grandly. Bumrah's slower-ball yorker to Shaun Marsh was a stunner, swerving late and dipping under the bat to find his pad. The tail were also no match for Bumrah, who completed his haul with a pair of thunderbolts.

Has Kohli and the coach Ravi Shastri denied Bumrah capitalising his dream spell with another sling at the opposition for the 2nd innings ? – enforcing follow-on and having at least half of Aussie back in pavilion would have been a much much better option.  .. .. let us wait for that final punch.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Dec 2018.

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