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Sunday, December 25, 2022

ASH ‘WINS’ Mirpur Test !

What a win at Mirpur today and it was fashioned by the most under-rated allrounder !!  Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Pollock, Richard Hadlee were bowling greats and could tonk the ball too .. .. this man is different, he is a smiling assassin, a spinner who can bat reliably and hit sixers too (a towering 84M onehanded hit!), as he proved today, took India to a Win with the hit and 6 wickets in the match. and bagged the Player of the Match.


The final day (it was only day 4!!) is always thrilling and that brings back memories of that 22nd Mar 2001  .. .. by the way not many would remember a Cricketer by name Sameer Dighe !! 

Somewhere read that he is associated with a Laundry service ‘UClean’ - Sameer Dighe's selection to the national team was a controversial one and hotly debated as Mumbai favouritism. At 31, Dighe had all but given up hopes of a career in cricket and was studying in the USA when the call came.  

Indian team is under transition. Their main batters are past their best, they rarely get a pick of their first-choice bowlers, their Captain looks like a non-playing Captain, not scoring runs and not in command in the middle.  This year alone, India have had three captains in seven Tests. 

Today at a dicey pitch in Mirpur India started with 45/4 needing exactly 100 runs – two nightwatchmen Axar Patel 26 and Jaydev Unadkat 3 were at the crease.  As the first session moved, Unadkat departed at 56, followed by Pant at 71 and when Axar Patel left it was 7/74 with Bangladeshi Tiger on the prowl. In the engrossing play – Shreyas Iyer played sensibly and .. .. Ravichandran Ashwin rocked with handsome shots, nudges, onehanded pull and clobbering the hitting 4 too.   It was their defiant stand that withstood the collapse and led to a thin 3 wicket win. Mehidy Hasan Miraz's five-for gave the hosts a big chance with quick wickets in the first half hour before Ashwin and Iyer used patience, accounted for the low bounce and also scored at a good clip - at over four an over - to take India over the line before the scheduled lunch break.  

The tension that could descend on the final day reminds of a test at home on 22nd March 2001, when India won the Border Gavaskar Trophy is fresh in mind. In test no. 1539, first day Aussies made 300 and were perched on top, in the second they were all out for 391. India made a strong reply and scored 501 aided by Sachin’s brilliant 126. On day 4 stumps, Aussies were 241/7 with Steve Waugh unbeaten on 43. We smelt an Indian victory but lot had to happen. Crowds started descending with great hope and soon the stadium was filled. We were enjoying in the A stand of Chepauk with hundreds of known faces, somewhat glum unsure of whether it would happen against the mighty Aussies.  

Harbhajan was a song and was taking wickets in buckets – 32 in a 3 test series. Made the day for India sending back the captain beating him with his spin. Australia managed 264 a lead of 155. Bhaji finished with 8/84. The openers Sadagoppan Ramesh and Shivsundar Das were unruffled. Mcgrath and Gillespie steamed in, pitched more than couple short and threatened to knock the heads off. Das after a patient vigil tried hooking and got out. A Yes no contributed to Ramesh walking back after a good 25. Sachin walked in to a thunderous applause and started with a couple of crackers against Warne. He edged Gillespie and Mark Waugh took a great catch in the slip, sachin gone with 17. Saurav departed and Dravid also went soon – Indians struggling at 122/5. The debutant Sameer Dighe was at the crease ; he saw Laxman out to a diving effort by Mark Waugh with individual score of 66. Just 21 tense runs away from victory but Aussies fighting menacingly. Sairaj Bahutule and Zaheer succumbed to the pressure. The cynics had started telling that it was yet another Indian collapse. Bhaji made a couple of agricultural heaves and Sameer was running for everything – not sure how runs were coming. 

The steely nerve of Sameer and luck of Bhaji got us the winning run – with people shouting, praying, biting their nails, not speaking or fighting with their best of friends, nervous ones smoking, people not changing their places all happened as Bhaji hit the winning run. It was more of an exhibition of courage to fight rather than any talent or grace. 

At Mirpur the win was fashioned by Ashwin who was rightly named player of the Match.  Ashwin has taken 449 wickets (just 1 short of 450) in 88 tests ad has scored 3043 runs with 5 centuries – a true all rounder indeed. Ravi Ashwin, on Friday, December 23, became only the sixth cricketer to score 3000 runs and pick up 400 plus wickets in Test cricket. Kapil Dev, Shaun Pollock, Stuart Broad, Shane Warne and Sir Richard Hadlee are the other five cricketers to have reached the milestone. Ashwin was  16 runs short of the feat before the Mirpur Test and he achieved it in the third session of the second day’s play.


Great performance Ashwin .. .. that one wicket in all probability coming in his next test would put him at 450 wickets in 89 tests.  Only Muthiah Muralidaran is ahead of him having taken 450 in 80; Anil Kumble, next in the list took 93 tests for his 450th wickets. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar







  1. Yes. Never forget the match @ Chepauk along with you, Joshi,
    Ranga, Ravishankar and others. Nail biting finishing still ringing in my ears of chanting of Diggie
    and Bhajji.

    1. Nice recall Ravi ... it was indeed a great experience - glorious finish and being with you all .. Happy reminiscences