Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ajab Test match ki Gajab Kahani.....Very Very Special !!!!

At a time, when in world cricket, test matches are fast losing their sheen & shine to pacy one dayers & T20s, the just concluded test match between the Aussies & India at Mohali, would most certainly bring crowds flocking back.
It has been one of the finest test matches in recent times, as fortunes swayed from one team to the other, & eventually ended in a fairy tale victory for the Indians.

Ricky Ponting, the Aussie skipper, has not won a single test match in India, since he has taken over the Captain's role & could most certainly put the blame on VVS Laxman....their nemesis in chief over a decade now.

Chasing a seemingly easy target of 216 runs, the much touted Indian batting line up had run into trouble at the end of the 4th day with scores of 55 for 4 at stumps. With Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid & Raina back in the dressing room, it was all left to Sachin to guide India home on the 5th day, hopefully in the company of Dhoni & probably Bhajji, as Laxman was nursing a bad back ache, which had kept him indisposed in the game till now. When Sachin fell after a restrained 38, & Dhoni and Bhajji failed as well, the score was reading a miserable 124 for 8....defeat looming large in India's face.....Ponting & company just about waiting to wrap things up......I dare say, there were very few takers for India, with Laxman at the other end of the crease. But "cometh the hour, cometh the man", & Laxman seemed determined as ever to rewrite a fairy tale....something which has now become like a habit for him, especially against the Aussies. He was firmly in the middle, with Raina as a runner, determined to pull away an incredible & seemingly impossible win from the marauding Australians. He probably was the only one who believed in this possibility.
In Ishant Sharma, he found an able company & they both scripted one of the most fascinating fight backs ever, stitching together an unbelievable partnership of 81 runs. While Laxman kept the scoreboard ticking with his customary & wristy touch of the willow, Ishant was actually defiant, facing 92 deliveries & scoring 31 runs as well !!!!! Stupendous performance, when you realise that his batting prowess in tests till now has been miserable to say the least. It was as if he was possessed by some supernatural powers...as anything the Aussie bowlers tried on him met with a straight & steady bat.
When Ishant finally got out LBW to Hilfenhaus,(replays show he was clearly not out!!!) India were still 11 runs away from an impossible victory, & in walked Pragyan Ojha, with all the 11 Aussie players breathing down his neck...... nails biting seemed to the most appropriate action for sitting in the stadium.....the tension was palpable.
With 6 runs needed, Ojha looked all at sea & was probably out to a Mitchell Johnson delivery, rapping him on his pads dead in front of the stumps, but umpire Billy Bowden's crooked finger did not come up & an overthrow resulted on a boundary & then 2 leg byes brought up the winning runs.
The Australians, looked completely shattered.......they had looked so secured to win this test & Dhoni's men had snatched the victory from their clutches.....Laxman standing tall & broad....73 unbeaten runs.....one more Very Very Special victory.....one more Laxman rekha saving India the blues !!!!
One more fairy tale crooning India's way....

However, there have been a lot of blips in this match. Umpiring has been atrocious.....especially, when you see that the two men in charge are among the best in business.
Fielding woes of India, especially behind the stumps has been alarming.
The much touted Indian batting, looks brittle & uneasy...especially against the chin music. It still banks heavily on the ageing shoulders of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman & Sehwag. India should thank their stars, that Bollinger was unfit in the last innings, & the Aussies sorely missed his away deliveries.

The man of the match award went to Zaheer, for his match haul of eight wickets. However, like millions across the globe, I was shocked to see Laxman denied of this accolade....he was the one who brought about an improbable victory...& that's what matters....
Its sad that someone like Laxman, who has probably won India more matches than the colourful & flashy stars, has never found the fancy of media or endorsements. He remains the silent crusader, who rises like a phoenix amongst the ruins & scripts the most unbelievable victories....fairly tales come alive...

VVS.....you will remain in our hearts, ever & always.....a Hero.....mostly unsung!!!!
Chak de India.....