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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Pant Sings ... breaks Aussie spree at Gabba !

During the test - when off-spinner Washington Sundar was bowling, Rishabh Pant shouted from behind the stumps when Paine came to strike and said, "Aise web phenko web (Throw a web like this)"  and started  singing the famous Indian Spiderman song, "Spiderman,  Spiderman" in the same tone, as it could be clearly heard from the stump mic. Today too, he was on a song! 

Way back in Dec 1977 India captained by Bishan Singh Bedi  played their 1st test of the Series at Brisbane.  The series was  overshadowed by the arrival of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket (WSC), unleashed on the world six months earlier, which left the home side fielding a virtual third XI under Bob Simpson,  a 41-year-old who had retired from the game in 1968, and was  hauled out of retirement to lead the side.  In that test there were 6 debutants : David O Gilvie, Paul Hibbert, Peter Toohey, Steve Rixon (wicket keeper), Tony Mann and Wayne Clark.


An opener and the wicket-keeper figured prominently in that chase of 341, which India lost narrowly.  After bowling out Australia for 166, India batted poorly and conceded a lead of 13.  Bedi took 5 in the first innings and Madanlal 5 in the second.  Aided by Simpson’s 89 and Toohey’s 57, Aussies made 327. 

Master batsman Sunil Gavaskar made 113 and was out at 243 (6); his partner Dilip Vengsarkar did not score much (1); Mohinder Amarnath made 47, Gundappa Viswanath 35, Patel out cheaply 3, Ashok Mankad, 21. .. .. but Syed Kirmani made a fighting 55 but was out at 318 – 22 runs short.  Of the many debutants, Paul Hibbert,  a tall, dark, stodgy opening batsman made  a 77-ball 13 and 2 and was never selected again.  

                       The Brisbane Cricket Ground is located in the suburb of Woolloongabba has been Australia’s favourite hunting ground. In  1975, England and West Indies were subject to a fierce spell of fast bowling from Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson.   West Indies team  last defeated Australia at this venue in 1988. England has never won a Test in Brisbane since 1986 when Ian Botham hit a century.  In 62 Tests that Australia has played at Brisbane since 1931, Australia has lost only eight times with one match being tied against the West Indies in 1960. In fact, apart from England, West Indies and New Zealand, no nation has managed to beat Australia in Brisbane, thus far. All that is gone and shaken, as India battled to save the test and as the last hour neared – changed gears to win the test with 3 wickets in hand.  

Australian skipper Tim Paine had a forgetful outing while leading the Baggy Greens on Day 5 of the 4th and final Test match   at The Gabba, Brisbane. Leading the formidable Australian side in the high-profile Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Paine's captaincy was under the scanner and the  wicketkeeper-batsman got involved in a verbal spat with  Ravichandran Ashwin in the 3rd Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).  Tasked to restrict the depleted Indian side for a paltry total on Day 5 of the series decider at The Gabba, the Paine-led side remained under the pump thanks to some outstanding batting from youngsters Shubman Gill, Rushabh Pant, and seasoned campaigner Cheteshwar Pujara. Riding on Pant's match-winning 89* on the final day of the Brisbane Test, supported by many including a cameo by Washington Sundar,  Ajinkya Rahane-led Team India defeated the mighty Aussies by three wickets and the visitors also clinched the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1 margin.  As Team India pulled off a record run-chase in a thrilling series decider on Tuesday, Australian skipper Paine was jeered by the Brisbane crowd at The Gabba. When the Australian skipper walked in to reflect on the series defeat at the hands of the Virat Kohli-less side, Paine was booed by the fans that opted to stay at the stadium after Australia's devastating loss.


The score card reads : India 329 for 7 (Gill 91, Pant 89*, Pujara 56, Cummins 4-55) and 336 beat Australia 369 and 294 by three wickets – it may not reflect the real tension and drama, especially on day 5 and close hours at Gabba. Punctuating the end was Rishabh Pant,  who offered chances, rode his luck, but also played many authentic shots.  In all, he remained supreme confident with his approach and in herding his team mates towards that victory.  It was an  expertly paced unbeaten 89 that helped shatter a 32-year streak of Australia not losing at this ground and sealed for India a 2-1 series win with three wickets in hand. Pant's dashing best came during the last hour of play, after a series of partnerships had taken India to within 63 runs of victory at which point they lost Mayank Agarwal. The burden of either pushing for a win or shutting the gates fell on Pant and debutant Washington Sundar.  

Sundar took on Pat Cummins, who had become the singular threat to India's ambitions as the rest of the bowling tired out. Sundar got his first boundary against Cummins, a neat check-punch past mid-off,  astonishingly hooked him for a six and the very next ball had an edge flying over the slips for another 4.   Then Rishab Pant  walked across his stumps to ramp Lyon  fine. A boisterous sweep to the deep midwicket fence came next ball, a crack in the pitch turned Lyon's offbreak into a gigantic legbreak that was too much for Tim Paine, and that 15-run over took India within 24 runs of victory with six overs left.  To bring in some chaos,  Sundar reverse-swept Lyon onto his own stumps, and hope sprung when first-innings batting hero Shardul Thakur miscued a slog to midwicket.  Meantime, Pant  fell on his backside for a pulled boundary, survived a splice to sweeper cover as he looked to finish with a six, and managed to cross over when Thakur's slog was still in the air. Josh Hazlewood had two balls at him, and an injured Navdeep Saini at the other end. He fired a full one down the leg side that Pant looked to sweep, one-handed, and missed. Pant was indignant at not being awarded a wide for it but was composed enough next ball to reach out and pat a tired attempted yorker past the bowler for the win.

In the morning  Shubman Gill did a Gavaskar in scoring a 91 and  Cheteshwar Pujara showed his body – was struck so many times on body and on head but ended up making a very slow 50 but more importantly kept tied one end, which in final stages provided that platform for a great win. 

Well done Team India, as Sachin tweeted, India found different heroes in every Session and despite losing a full team due to injuries, still India managed to win 2 matches after that disastrous 36 all out.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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