Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Natarajan scores a run ! - India's no-names leave Aussie red-faced !!

In Dec 2003, at Adelaide – Ajit Agarkar scored just 11 & 0*  -    but scripted history !!  In Test Cricket, often day 3 could be the defining day but perhaps not at Gabba, Brisbane today !!  .. .. ESPN has this interesting statistics – as commentators kept telling that Natarajan should have run two to double his International aggregate – when he scored that solitary run it was “ After ten first-class innings without a run, T Natarajan  finally scores one” that too  on Test debut. How he emerges with the ball in the second essay could redefine this test.



Ian Chappel feels that both the batting line-ups are fragile and that makes it interesting and intriguing.  I feel, Aussie has an established line-up, playing at home – India dogged by injuries has almost two teams playing in 4 tests !!  .. the recent times has seen  the emergence of Marnus Labuschagne and the potential of Will Pucovski and Cameron Green, with David Warner and Steve  Smith.  The Indian line-up is so much stronger with Kohli in the middle, acting as the batting general. Their openers failed, middle-order fragile, coupled with injuries to all and sundry.  Today after close of play – The Courier Mail thundered “India’s no-names leave Aussies red-faced”  

That sums up their frustration even when they are 54 runs ahead on close of day 3.  Their strong line up of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins peppered and kept hurtling – Indian wickets were tumbling.   They started at 62/2 having lost Gill and Rohit.  Pujara went at 105 and Rahane out at 144; Mayank Agarwal batting at 5 for the first time left at 161 and when Rishab Pant steered Hazlewood to Green Gully it was 186/6 – 183 short with only tail exposed. If you are about to blame Pant, know that his  23 became his first sub-25 score in 11 innings in Australia.

Have seen Sharadul Thakur make some runs in limited overs and he opened with a six hooking Cummins ! Sundar & Thakur together – how much are they worth?



Washington Sundar is known more for his TNPL and IPL exploits. Seen as a limited over specialist opening the bowling and keeping great batsmen at bay.  Only because of the Covid-19 pandemic was Sundar asked to hang around for the Test series to help with bowling in the nets.   He is only 21.  Shardul Thakur,  is India's seventh-choice seamer in Tests. He spent the long tour playing just three limited-overs games and bowling a lot in the nets, getting to bat only when the throwdown specialists or the bowlers have any energy left after bowling to the players expected to play. Today both forged together adding 123 runs for the 7th wicket – making  maiden Test fifties to help India post 336.

Australia still finished the day with a handy lead and two full days left, but the rain forecast for the last two days is sure to play on their minds. Tim Paine faces the agonising scenario of leaving the door open for a historic defeat at the Gabba in order to keep alive Australia's hopes of regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against an opponent whose tenacity knows no bounds.  After that abysmal 36 at Adelaide   just under a month ago and Virat Kohli taking  the next flight out to Mumbai, few would have been shocked if they were flattened 4-0. The  severely undermanned visitors could now deny Australia the series and the silverware and even clinch it themselves. As holders and with the series locked at 1-1, India need only a draw to retain the trophy while Australia must win the Test.

There has been no shortage of heroes among the 20 players who have taken the field for India over the four Tests amid a football season's worth of broken bones and strained tendons.  After the heroics of injured Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin at Sydney – at Brisbane it is the   21-year-old debutant Washington Sundar and second-gamer Shardul Thakur, who were brought in from deep in the bullpen as bowling reinforcements in Brisbane yet blunted Paine's men with the bat before a crowd of 12,777 on Sunday. Josh Hazlewood. wound up with 5-57 but the Indian counterattack led them to an unlikely first-innings total of 336, only 33 short of Australia's.

Whatever the outcome, the never-say-die attitude of India that has stood them so sell so far. Australia, by comparison, have used just their usual frontline four throughout the series.  Besides their 3 quickies,   Nathan Lyon, is just  three short of 400 Test wickets, let us be hopeful of India finishing the tour on a high.

In that 2003-’04 tour of Australia,  Sourav Ganguly century allowed India to draw the first Test, the Indian team arrived in Adelaide for the second Test.   Australian batsmen quickly found their touch. On the back of a classy 242 by Ricky Ponting, the hosts scored 556 (in just 127 overs) in the first innings.  In reply, India collapsed to 85/4 before Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman orchestrated a 233-run stand to help India finally finish on 523 all out. The hosts had a small 33-run lead (coincidence same today too)  then  Ajit Agarkar upped his game to script what is arguably his finest moment in international cricket. Agarkar’s spell of 6/41 broke Australia and   Dravid, with 72,   played a vital role as everyone chipped in. When the winning runs were scored Agarkar was fittingly at the non-striker’s end. He didn’t need to face a ball but   had done his part.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17.1.2021
  

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