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Friday, February 21, 2020

Poonam Yadav's star turn and India struggles at Basin Reserve

The puny woman standing at harbour bridge is not any simple tourist !

Watched with interest the inaugural match of the Women T20 World Cup between defending Champion Australia and India.  Shafali Varma impressed with that glitzy innings.  Smriti Mandhana failed; Jemima Rodrigues played a cameo.  Capt Harmanpreet Kaur too failed. DB Sharma took India out of woods making a well compiled 49* - the total appeared not challenging.  After Smriti was out lbw, Rodrigues was given out lbw to Perry as she tried to whip the ball square and was hit on the front pad on the shin.  She immediately reviewed and got it right. 

Perry to Rodrigues, no run, Given lbw! Rodrigues reviews. This was a fuller length, sliding in through the air, she tried to whip square and was hit on the front pad on the shin, no bat involved. Ball tracking had it missing leg! Not out. The decision is overturned. They ran a leg bye but because the decision was made before it it doesn't count – the Umpire had to reverse her decision .. yes, it was  Jacqueline Monique Williams, from Ashton, Jamaica.  In the recent Ireland’s tour to West Indies – on Jan 15, 2020, in the 1st T20I she was the 3rd Umpire and today she was field Umpire. 

On paper, India 4 for 132 (Sharma 49*, Jonassen 2-24) beat Australia 115 (Healy 51, Yadav 4-19, Pandey 3-14) by 17 runs – but it did appear as if Aussies would run away with victory before that bewitching spell of wrist-spin bowling from Poonam Yadav sank Australia. In front of a crowd of 13,432 - the best for a standalone women's cricket match in Australia - the Indians began with familiar bombast at the top of the order before the loss of three wickets for six runs lowered their expectations. Deepti Sharma was not daunted, reverting to plan B of running as many singles as possible and guiding India to a competitive 132.

While Alyssa Healy made a much-needed return to runs and confidence at the top of the Australian order, the rest struggled for timing on a slow, dry surface that proved to be ideally suited to Yadav's art. A legbreak and three wrong'uns delivered her the wondrous figures of 4 for 19, and with the strong support of Shikha Pandey, Australia were confounded. Having entered 2020 as the world's undisputed T20 dominators, the hosts would have to struggle to reach the semi-finals, though not impossible.

At Wellington, the story was scripted by a 6 feet 8 inches tall who could well be playing basketball -  Kyle Jamieson could have gotten pretty far playing that sport - though he says his "jump height is not the greatest".  Jamieson was more of a batsman growing up - his father Michael says batting outweighed bowling 60-40 in those days – as he frustrated India in that unbroken 76 with Ross Taylor for the ninth wicket, on his ODI debut.  Now at close of play on day 1 – India is 122/5 with Ajinkya Rahana 38* and Rishab Pant at the crease.  Mayank Agarwal survived the first session, did play well for his 34. 

Kyle Jamieson would likely have not played this match if Neil Wagner - away on paternity leave - had been available. On his first - rain-curtailed - day of Test cricket, though, the 6'8" fast bowler might have left an indelible mark on the Test and the series with the wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Hanuma Vihari. No play was possible post the tea break thanks to rain.

People can well remember that 1st Test at Wellington way back in Feb 1981.  NZ won by 62 runs.  .. .. and if one can recall good memory, there were 4 debutants – Yograj Singh touted to be faster than Kapil Dev, played that solitary test in his career; Kirti Azad who was part of Kapil Devils 1983 WC triumph, played 7; Martin Snedden played 25 and .. the lanky Ravi Shastri, who had flown all the way as replacement of Dilip Doshi went on to play 80 tests.

Wellington (for that matter New Zealand itself) is no happy hunting ground for Indians.  India has played a total of 23 matches in New Zealand and have managed to emerge as the winning team only on five occasions. They have lost eight matches while a total of 10 Test matches ended in a draw. If these numbers were not enough to show India’s poor record in New Zealand, in  7 Test matches played at Wellington, India has won just a solitary Test match which was in 1968.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Feb 2020.


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