A Bidding Farewell..
India won the fourth and final cricket test match against the mighty Australian team trashing them by a full 179 runs. All news channels in the country were running specials on how Team India evolved from being under dogs to challengers to champions. Just one series win against Australia, and the media calls MS Dhoni a more successful captain than his precedents. Here is my take at what happened in the final test match at Nagpur.
The Border Gavaskar trophy 2008 entered into into last test match with much more at stake for both the teams. Team India enters the test match with a 1-0 lead over what is called the weakest Australian team ever. Team India will be playing to snatch the trophy off Ricky Ponting’s hand while Australians will try to retain the trophy after drawing level the series in Australia in 2007. MS Dhoni was capped the new Indian captain post Anil Kumble’s announcement to retire from Cricket following an injury incurred in the third test match. Sourav Ganguly also announced his retirement at the end of the series post India’s 360 run victory in the second test match in Mohali, also captained by MS Dhoni.
India won the toss, and with no hesitation MS Dhoni decided to bat first. Amit Mishra replaced the ex Indian Captain Anil Kumble. New man, M Vijay made his debut for India replacing Gautam Gambhir who was handed a 1 match ban following his ‘elbow’ tussle with Shane Watson during the third test match. He however went on to score a double century. Australian Team handed the baggy green cap to Jason Kreza leaving out the out of form Stuart Clark.
Day 1: The new Indian openers provided a solid start
With Sehwag’s thump complimented by M Vijay’s solidarity the Indians made a good start. The duo took India to the score of 98 before India lost M Vijay to a rising shane watson delivery. India lost debutant M Vijay(33), Rahul Dr avid(0) and Virender Sehwag(66) in 29 deliveries towards the end of the first session before the two in-form veterans Sachin and Laxman shored up the innings. India Scored 311 for 5 at the end of the day following efforts from Sachin Tendulkar 109, who did everything correct on the day from getting off the mark to getting India to a strong position following the flurry of wickets post lunch. His efforts paid off, despite a run-out chance on 74 and drops on 85 and 98 off the persevering debutant Jason Kreza, as he scored his 40th Test hundred. India Ended the day at 311/5 with Sourav and Dhoni still at the crease.
Day 2: Ganguly and Dhoni provided the solid start that India required
The duo added 119 before Dhoni was dismissed to a classic off spinners delivery from the debutant Kreza.
With just one run added to the total Ganguly too walked to the pavilion after being caught at first slip to a beautiful delivery by Kreza. Ganguly scored 85, losing out to what would have been a very good century only by 15 runs. Micheal clarke took a fantastic single handed catch to dismiss Sourav. Kraza came on his own to dismiss India to modest 441 all out, to what looked like another 600+ total from India. Kreza picked 8 wickets for 215 runs as he led the Australian team back into the dressing room. M Hayden was found well short of his crease when he tried to steal a single. M Vijay reducing Australia to 32 for 1. Ricky Ponting looked to retain his form as he played some splendid shots to get himself to 24 before being dismissed to a classic off spinner from Harbhajan Singh hitting the top of off stump. Australia reduced to 74 for 2. Hussey joined Katich as the duo consolidated. A fluent and unbeaten 92 from Simon Katich kept the Australians ticking at the end of the day that saw effortless batting on either side of a dramatic bowling spell. Australia ended the day on 189 for 2 to what looked like a test match going to the wire.
Day 3: Slowly but steadily India gained the edge
With a 8-1 field favoring the off side, the Indian fast bowling duo of Zaheer Khan and Ishant sharma did what was expected. Katich was dropped by Dravid in the second over of the day as the batsman went chasing to a ball bowled well outside the off stump. Katich then played on to reach his second hundreds in India. It was clear from the first session which team had a lead to defend. India went in with eight fielders on the off side, repeatedly bowled outside the off stump, and delayed the introduction of the spinners.
Australia who had to force the pace decided not to, as they only scored 42 in the first session. Australia in their effort to score runs quickly lost Simon Katich to what was the only delivery bowled on the stumps on the day. Australia lost Katich to a full in swinging delivery from Zaheer Khan, the batsman caught plumb in front. Hussey was joined by Clarke with the team at 229-3. Indian bowlers saw reverse swing appear out of the blue had now started to bowl more at the stumps to the new batsman. The efforts proved worthy as Clarke was caught behind of a peach of delivery from Ishant. Slowly, almost unnoticeably, Hussey moved on to 90. He left the ball well and never looked like getting out. It needed something out of the blue to dislodge a man who seemed set to grind India into the dust. Hussey, on 90, punched off the back foot and M Vijay at silly point intercepted the ball and flicked it back to Dhoni, who broke the stumps with Hussey on the move for a single. Indians now seemed more determined as they picked the rest of the Australian wickets but not before Australian could reach 355. India had a lead of 86 runs as the India’s openers saw out the one remaining over and will harbour hopes of batting Australia out of the Test.
Day 4: India started off in a blistering fashion as the openers stagnate runs
Sehwag showed the Australians what aggressive cricket was all about while Vijay continued ticking away singles to give the strike back to his partner. The duo added 116 before Vijay fell prey to the in swinging delivery from Watson. Dravid disspointed his fans once again as he lost his wicket for 3 to a good length delivery from Watson. Haddin took a simple catch behind the wicket to dismiss the out of form Dravid. The master walked in. The Indian batsman consolidated a bit as Sehwag was forced to scoring singles to a well spread out field. Sehwag’s efforts were undone as the not so well Brett lee picked his man to a short pitch delivery bowled on the body. Sehwag nicked the ball and Brad haddin took the catch diving to his left. India reduced to 142-3. Laxman(4) soon followed sehwag when he was dismissed cheaply to a flighted Kreza delivery. Ganguly entered the field to a loud applause from the crowd (which was not so big). The sooner he enter the sooner he left. Ganguly was out the first ball when he popped a simple catch back to Kreza trying to play a delivery outside the leg stump. India received a shock when Tendulkar was denied a single by MS Dhoni as the batsman was found well short of crease. India went into tea with only 166 on board, 6 wickets down.
If Australia lost the plot, it was in the final session. They came out a different team, with Ponting not calling on Shane Watson, who impressed with two wickets after lunch, or Brett Lee. Cameron White’s first over went for 12 and Ponting, worried about a flagging over-rate, turned to Michael Hussey’s innocuous slow medium-pace. It was rather odd, given that Australia needed four wickets. Even stranger was the time Ponting often took to change bowlers and set fields. Whatever the true reason, it only aided India’s cause. Dhoni(55) and Harbhajan(52) added 108 in 27.2 overs. With contributions from the tail, India consolidated to a lead of 381 before being bowled out for 295. Australia ended the day at 13 for no loss to what looked like a day when Aussies could have consolidated. What transpired after the interval was quite something else, and Australia now found themselves with 369 to win.
Day 5: The Day
A more determined Hayden and the man in sublime form Simon Katich took Australia to a good start. However the more determined Indian side was not to lose the plot just like Ponting did.
Simon katich skied a ball from Ishant Sharma trying to work a short ball to the on side one too often. Dhoni took a simple catch as Australians were reduced to 29 for 1. Zahher khan produced a superb delivery to square up Ponting facing his first delivery. The ball however did not carry to the Dravid waiting at first slip. One classy on-drive later, Ponting was wastefully run out for 4. He dabbed and set off for an extremely ambitious single and Amit Mishra, screaming in from mid-off, threw down the stumps with a brilliant underarm pick-up and fling – 37 for 2. The dismissal of Clarke for 22, nibbling at a lovely delivery as Ishant plugged away on an exemplary length, seemed to have nailed it decisively India’s way at 82 for 3. Then Dravid, at slip, dropped Hayden on 36 when the batsman went for another powerful reverse-sweep.
Hayden and Hussey looked more determined to win the match as Hayden went about scoring freely of every delivery that the spinners tossed at him. Micheal Hussey continued to consolidate with occasional shot that reached the ropes. With 60 runs of the first 10 overs post lunch, Dhoni employed the negative bowling tactics. More drama unfolded as umpire Billy Bowden explained Dhoni of why he should be standing outside the off stump. Dhoni earlier was standing outside the leg stump collecting the deliveries bowled by his bowlers down the leg side. Billy Bowden also warned Sehwag of calling the balls wide if he continued bowling on the leg side. Few deliveries later Hayden stepped down the track to hit Sehwag for a massive six oer Mid-wicket. Hussey on the other end was dismissed to a well tossed up delivery by Mishra which bounced from good length taking the edge, popping a simple catch to Rahul Dravid at first slip. Hayden continued to dominate the Indian bowling as he hit Harbhajan to a boundary towards mid wicket. The worst came for Australia when Hayden was dismissed the very next ball to a airy turning delivery from Harbhajan. Hayden out LBW and Australia at 154 for 5.Brad Haddin then scooped Mishra to mid-off, feeding Sachin Tendulkar his 100th catch in Test cricket.Shane Watson nibbled a cut off Harbhajan into Dhoni’s gloves for 9, Jason Krejza was stumped when two-thirds down the track to Mishra, and Brett Lee edged Harbhajan to short leg.
In a touching tribute to Sourav Ganguly, Dhoni let him captain the side for the last wicket. When the last wicket fell just before tea, Mitchell Johnson trapped lbw by a Harbhajan doosra, Ganguly and Dhoni embraced at the centre of India’s raucous celebrations. Dhoni led his team off in style, while people made room for Ganguly to say his final goodbyes. There was no overly emotional reaction from Ganguly; bar one fling at Lord’s.
Jason Kreza was awarded the man of the match for his efforts with the ball in his debut test match. Ishant Sharma was awarded the Man of the Series for his deservingly excellent performance with the ball picking 17 Australian wickets in the series. Dhoni in his unwittingly self accepted the Border-Gavaskar trophy with Ex captain Anil Kumble to take India to what has been a superb series. With Mixed emotions on winning the series and losing out on the 2 greats of cricket, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble team India took a lap of honor aboard Ishant Sharma’s prize car.
Click Here for the scorecard.
I have always wanted to be associated with Cricket. Being some software engineer does not help the cause. News reporting is something i feel i can improve at, If not being published somewhere, i have my own blog to feature my passion for cricket. I just tried, This is no Copy Paste. I would love to hear more feedback from all. Do comment. Do comeback for more post match analysis.
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