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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

India's 500th ODI win at Nagpur - Vijay Shankar comes of age

In his 6 One dayers, he has batted twice – 45 & 46 (both run outs) – has not taken a single wicket, till he was asked to bowl the last over – earlier in the innings, he bowled one, was hit for 13  !!

ODI 4106 ~ at Nagpur, another last over thriller – none would blame Kohli .. he made runs, changed his bowlers and India eventually won on a day when Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Jasprit Bumrah made ducks.  Aussies were on the chase, Kohli changed his bowlers, Vijay Shankar had been hit for 13 in his only over – in trying to take wickets, he rung in changes, brought in ace Bumrah and Shami too – Kuldeep finished his quota – Kedar Jadhav did well, and could bowl the final over – his length would sure that he would never be denied a wicket as ball sailing over the stumps – but can one risk an Offie against a big hitting Stoinis ?

Battle of wits ~ decades ago, Kapil Dev was unfairly criticised for bowling 49th and leaving 50th to Chetan Sharma.  Only recently, Bumrah bowled a brilliant over giving just 2 and leaving 14 off last – Umesh Yadav could not contain that against Aussie bowlers batting.  At Nagpur, it was slightly lower – just 11 – and the bowler, who perhaps had his confidence dented. 

Vijay Shankar had had a good match – made runs, batting eloquently, fielded brilliantly and .. .. was asked the deliver the last.  The master at the death, Jasprit Bumrah, had a piece of advice for Vijay.  An year or so ago, Vijay, as a batsman failed under pressure against Mustafizur Rahman in that Nidahas Trophy final. His team-mate Dinesh Karthik,  conjured a last-ball six and pulled off a famous win. Yet, harsh criticism had been heaped on Vijayshankar – now people see him as a brilliant fielder, who can bat too – but what about his bowling ?

The score card reads : India 250 (Kohli 116, Cummins 4-29) beat Australia 242 (Stoinis 53, Handscomb 48, Kuldeep 3-54) by eight runs.  There was much more drama to be seen rather read.  Virat Kohli's 40th  ODI century and a collective failure of Australian nerve saw India take a stranglehold of the ODI series in Nagpur, after the visitors found a way to lose despite needing only 33 from 34 balls with five wickets in hand at one point.

On a dry, slow Nagpur pitch that had always seemed likely to aid the team bowling second, the Australians wrestled gamely with India for most of the match in the face of Kohli's brilliance and the wiles of Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav.  Vijay credited himself with a good score that saw  two jaw-dropping straight-bat punches over midwicket during his 46 off 41 balls before he was  unfortunately run-out when Adam Zampa deflected a drilled drive from Kohli onto the stumps at the non-striker's end in the 29th over.

At various points, Australia looked to be controlling the chase, but India kept picking up wickets at vital junctures: three for Kuldeep, those two for Bumrah in the same over.  Bumrah bowled brilliantly .. .. final over – 11 to go – Stoinis at the crease with Nathan Lyon.  Marcus Stoinis, whose towering frame and sixes have drawn comparisons with 'The Incredible Hulk',  is at the crease – he tried a pull off the first ball – struck on pads, given out lbw – goes for review – Umpire’s call on leg stump – and Vijay Shankar gets his first ODI wicket – 11 off 5.  Adam Zampa walks in, jabs the ball to point, sprints for 2; – 9 off 4.  Straight one bang on middle, Zampa making room, fails to connect – bowled and Vijay is a hero now.

This is India’s 500th win in ODI in 963 matches – lost 414; tied 9 and no result 40. Quite creditable indeed !

India’s first ever win in One day Internationals came in ODI 24 on 11th June 1975 against lowly East Africa at Leeds.  Gavaskar and Farokh Engineer chased with ease.  Venkatraghavan was the Captain.  Their next win came at Quetta, against Pak in Oct 1978, when Mohinder Amarnath was the man-of-the match. 3rd win came at Melbourne on 6th Dec 1980 against Australia; 4th came 3 days later at Perth against New Zealand; next came in that same series against NZ at Adelaide .. in all the last 4, India had batted first.  For long, India was not good in chasing. India had to wait an year more for their first win at home, that came in ODI 131 on 20.12.1981 at Jallandhar – it was a  brilliant 88 by MoM Dilip Balwant Vengsarkar in a 36 over match !

India has come a long way since – and 500 wins is indeed commendable !  ~ will this performance catapult Vijayshankar to World Cup  ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Mar 2019.

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