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Friday, December 3, 2021

fluctuating fortunes at Wankhede !

Test no. 2438 got  off to a wet start today at Wankhede – Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat – and in the team apart from Virat Kohli replacing Ajinkya Rahane and Mohammad Siraj replacing Ishant, there is another change – a player who had debuted in Nov 2016 – 203 International tests ago, got another his 5th chance – he has played in test nos 2235, 38, 39 against Englahd in 2016 and in 2250 against Australia at Pune – has taken – 11 wickets in all (4 – 4 – 1 – 2) but more importantly his batting scores read :  35; 27*; 55; 104; 2 & 5 – total of 228 with a flattering batting average of 45.60 and yet he had almost been forgotten !!  - no prizes for guessing “Jayant Yadav” !! 

In Nov 1992 the New Zealanders had been in Colombo 11 hours after a 40-hour journey from Zimbabwe when, on the eve of their first game, a suicide bomber crashed his motorcycle into a car outside their team hotel containing a Sri Lankan vice admiral, killing the two of them as well as three of the admiral's aides. Many of the New Zealanders were sitting outside on their hotel balconies when the bomb went off while Ken Rutherford, eating inside, recalled the blast knocked his breakfast tray off his bed. Warren Lees, in an adjoining room, had his balcony doors blown open.  Greatbatch, particularly, fumed at attempts to force him to stay, and quit the tour, officially on compassionate grounds; Rod Latham, Dipak Patel, Gavin Larsen, Willie Watson and Lees went with him. Four players, including the former New Zealand captain John Wright, whose career had seemed over, flew out to Sri Lanka as replacements, while Crowe took on coaching duties. 

If you had read that well, there was Rod Latham, whose son Tom Latham is captaining New Zealand in this test.  He has captained them on 3 occasions earlier.   His first venture against Australia in Sydney in Jan 2020 was disastrous as Aussies beat them by 279 runs.   He had made his debut against India at Wellington in Feb 2014  and was picked as an opener for the tour of West Indies a few months later. In the Caribbean, he reeled off three successive half-centuries, contributing to an overseas series win. Against Pakistan in the UAE that November, Latham scored centuries in successive Tests, the first New Zealand batsman to do so for 24 years.  He was also only the second New Zealand opener to carry his bat in a Test. Glenn Turner had previously done it twice. Tom Latham has played varied roles for New Zealand since his international debut at the age of 19. He batted in every position from No. 1 to 9 in limited-overs cricket, and also took on the responsibility of being a wicketkeeper. In Tests, however, Latham was primarily used as an opening batsman, and he quickly settled into a position New Zealand had trouble filling for years.

                 Today, officially - India and New Zealand have been hit by injuries minutes before the second Test in Mumbai, with all of Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma and Kane Williamson ruled out. 

When play started late, the make-shift opening pair  Mayank Agarwal and Subhman Gill dazzled with a 80 run partnership – 80 without loss in 27.2 and then in a few minutes, down 3 – Gill 44, Cheteshwar Pujara 0 and Virat Kohli 0 .. ..all to the simple spin of Ajaz Patel.  Spinner of Indian origin Monty Panesar kept India down – now Patel born in Mumbai skidded through – having taken all the 4 wickets to fall on day 1.   Mayank & Gill may not have walked out if   KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma  had been available for selection! Mayank Agarwal settled India with a serene hundred after Ajaz Patel added  first Test's hero Shreyas Iyer, too, when India was  160 for 4.


Giving Mayank company was another who too was not a certainty -   Wriddhiman Saha – the duo  forged an unbroken 61-run partnership to push the total up to 221 for 4 at stumps on a truncated opening day at the Wankhede Stadium.

It was indeed interesting and day of fluctuating fortunes .. and that is test cricket.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd Dec 2021. 

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