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Saturday, February 11, 2023

How would you read this famous win at Nagpur !!!

What a day at Nagpur !!  - before you read further, you may well read the penultimate para that would sum up the attitude !


Not many would have read about that Test no. 9  - way back in 1882 – it was scheduled to be a 3 day match but did not last beyond 2 !! – by far the shortest match even though there were rain delays.    

Down under, even before the Test begins, the visitors (especially Asian countries) would be swept aside by commentators, Cricket pundits, media and everyone else that the Team would have bones hurt in the first session.  A test at Perth   always added to the jitters in the visiting camp over the years as Australian pacers wreaked havoc on the iconic WACA wickets. The 22-yard-strip at the now-defunct venue was considered one of the fastest and the liveliest the game has seen, albeit it becoming a batsman-friendly wicket during its twilight as the host of Western Australia's international matches. 

Back in Nov 1983 at Perth  -  Australia won by 286 runs after being sent in to bat by Miandad. The match  was marred by a lamentable confrontation between fast bowler Dennis Lillee and the Pakistan captain Javed Miandad.  More than that Pakis were swept away for 62 runs !! 

In India’s last tour to Australia in the 1st Test – a day-night affair at Adelaide, India had the ignominy of losing by 8 wickets, worser still, all out for 36 !!  At 19 for 6 the record books were being thumbed. Sadly for New Zealand's sake, their 26 in 1955 remained the lowest total ever but India's 42 - made against England in 1974 - could not be avoided.  India bounced back very strongly to win that series is history !! 

Come to the present – today – Aussies played just 32.3 overs – all out for 91 – predictably their pacers bowled just 5 completed overs.  Ravichandran Ashwin did major damage 12-3-37-5; Shami 2/13; Ravindra Jadeja 12-3-34-2; Axar Patel after that glorious innings with the bat would still complain having bowled just 3 overs and taking a wicket.  The match was over before day 3 !! 

India 400 (Rohit 120, Axar 84, Murphy 7-124) beat Australia 177 and 91 (Smith 25*, Ashwin 5-37) by an innings and 132 runs.  India completed the demolition job of Australia inside three days by bowling them out for 91 in 32.3 overs in the second innings. It was their second-lowest score against India.  Ravi Ashwin, outbowled by Ravindra Jadeja in the first innings and outbatted by both Axar Patel and Jadeja, led the Australian collapse in the second innings with 5 for 37, his 31st five-wicket haul. Fifteen of the 20 wickets that India took were lbw or bowled, which sums up their expertise at attacking the stumps without getting picked off for runs. 

It was all the more torturous for Australia because India's last three wickets lasted the whole first session on a pitch that was turning more and quicker than day two. Australia started the day 144 behind, needing the last three wickets for nothing to give them any hope of staying alive in the Test. They got Jadeja early, but Axar added 52 and 20 with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj to take India's lead to 223. 

Very well done Team India, though there are certain lessons from this game too and the persistence of KL Rahul by coach Rahul Dravid has come in for sharp criticism. 

Centuries back in Aug 1881:    Australia 63 & 122;  England 101 & 77 -

Australia won by 7 runs.  Murdoch beat Hornby in the toss and deputed Bannerman and Massie to commence the innings. Aussies won the match despite the visitors being much more experienced than them and the fact they scored paltry 63 in first essay, outnumbered at 101 !! – match despite rain delays ended in two days. 

The start of this century at Leeds in Aug 2000, West Indies were beaten by an innings and 39 runs in a test that did not last 2 full days.  In the 2nd WI were all out for 61 !!  that was as euphoric a day for England cricketers as they could have dreamed of. For West Indies it was humiliation heaped upon disaster as they surrendered in the most ignominious fashion to go down by an innings and 39 runs in the fourth Test. 

A few years back, the debutant Afghanistan lost to India by an innings and 262 runs in a Test at Bengaluru in June 2018 that lasted less than 3 days.  England too had taste of this bitter medicine recently in Feb 2021, as they socred 112 & 81 – India scoring 145 and 49/0 – match ending in 3 days !!  

Following all these today’s ignominy was not new in Cricket history – today’s win being fashioned by Indian spinners.  After 24 of the 30 wickets were taken by spinners in the Nagpur Test, which India won by an innings and 132 runs, captain Rohit Sharma commented on  how to play on turning pitches: use your feet, be a bit unorthodox, try to sweep and reverse sweep, and put pressure on the bowler. 

Yesterday (day 2) India finished at  - 321/7 in 114.0 overs (RA Jadeja 66, AR Patel 52).. .. this morning Jaddu fell early at 328; Mohammad Shami (37)  stayed long till 380 and Axar Patel was out at 400 making 84. The tailenders proved that they could bat with ease. 

Whatever one may say or lament, the Test is over – won by India comprehensively .. .. less than 3 days. Foreign critics and some local arm-chaired ones would soon be lambasting India for this win calling the pitch the villain, calling it a minefield, square-turner, dusty, doctored pitch .. .. but when visitors fold at Australia or England, they fail at green tops / pitch conducive to swing; batsman not having proper technique, ill-equipped to handle raw pace, jumping hip-hop in hot tin roof and bowlers grand exhibition of the art of pace bowling.  Asian spinners only revel on doctored pitches !! 

Be that the way – look forward to couple more results similar in this Series.  Happy India fan !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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