Friday, January 6, 2012

6th Jan' 2012 : Day 4, Sydney

Yesterday late night, I was flipping through news channels & in one of them, got to hear Harsha Bhogle evaluating India's chances in this match. Smiling ruefully, he said, "While I would want India to bat into day 5 & maybe save the test match, it looks highly improbable as of now. Its pouring right now in Sydney, & I only hope it continues to do so tomorrow as well, to lend India support !!!...hehehehehehe, maybe a Sachin hundred....maybe a fighting knock by Laxman, but the series is well & truly buried for India."
Guess the same sentiments were being echoed by all cricket pundits in unison.
Yesterday, in my match coverage, I had mentioned of possible special knocks by Gambhir or Sachin or Laxman or maybe a century by one of the tailenders or maybe rains !!!!.....trying desperately to believe that miracles of such proportions do happen. Well, all of that happens, when pigs will fly,....dreams unbound.... hahahaaaa !!!!
This series was touted as the best chance for India ever, to defeat Australia Down Under...critics from all over were more than assured,..... almost certain, as Australia got butchered by England in Ashes, lost to South Africa miserably, got beaten by New Zealand just a month ago. The team going through a building process under new Captain Michael Clarke....the batting brittle with Ponting & Hussey struggling to regain form, others being rookies in squad....the bowling ever so inexperienced.......It all looked perfect setting for India to gain the upperhand.
Indian contingent, under Captain Cool Dhoni, with such an invincible batting line up, Zaheer back in action to bolster the bowling attack along with Ashwin, Ishant & Yadav, ......people were even dreaming of an Australian whitewash !!!!
In only eight days of cricket, Michael Clarke's Australian unit has flattened & decimated India to lead 2-0 in the series & now on the contrary, an Indian whitewash Down Under looking a strong possibility.

The day started well for India, in slight overcast conditions, as Sachin broke shackles with fluent drives on the off, & Gautam middling as well. The run rate was more than healthy, as both Hilfenhaus & Pattinson kept leaking runs. I quickly brewed up a strong cup of coffee to beat the early morning yawns & settle down to watch an absorbing battle....but then pipe dreams are sweet but short lived !!! Siddle replaced Hifenhaus in the 8th over of the morning & immediately Gambhir edged to Warner at point....gone for 83 runs, just when he was looking good for a long haul century. Laxman in next was tentative in the beginning, & survived a close call, as Haddin behind missed another sharp chance off Siddle. However, thereafter, both the batsmen started to milk the bowling, showing signs of a probable fightback....At lunch India were a resolute 243 for 3, with Sachin on 70 & Laxman on 44....both looking good & settled in the middle, despite overcast conditions.
So good was the batting, even after lunch that Clarke brought himself in to try & break the partnership, which had already added 100 runs. Sachin was looking all set for his 100th ton & Laxman, having completed his fifty as well was flicking & driving with disdain. Finally the Indian batting was living upto its name...the Aussie bowling was getting tested......if these two could bat out the day, with Virat, Dhoni & Ashwin to follow, a turnaround in the making.......Hmmmm, dreaming again !!!...
In the 79th over the inevitable fall happened. Just when, everyone was warming up to the prospect of Sachin's hundred, Clarke looped one that spun slightly to take the outside edge of Sachin's defensive prod, fly off to deflect keeper Haddin's surprised gloves & nestle in the caving fingers of Hussey at slips. Dreams shattered, as Sachin walked back, out for 80 runs, century yet again elusive & defeat all but certain for India. Everything that Clarke touched in this match was gold & he had got the big man !!!! That was all the Aussie attack needed, & the Indian batting caved in. Next to go was Laxman, bowled by Hilfenhaus for 66 runs, & two overs later Dhoni spooned a catch back to Hilfehaus. Virat Kohli was consumed by Pattinson almost immediately & India were reeling at 286 for 7.
With the match most certainly over now, Ashwin & Zaheer went for some lusty hitting, as sixes & fours rained for a while, before Zaheer got caught by Marsh at point off Siddle....the score zoomed 342 for 8. Tea break was a formality, though Ashwin continued to delay the end with some aggressive hitting. He was the last man out for 62 very well made runs, as Indian innings finally folded for 400 runs. Australia was victorious by an innings & 68 runs. Hilfenhaus had once again picked up a 5 wicket haul.
For India, there were positive batting by Gambhir, Laxman, Ashwin in this innings, while Dravid, Kohli & Dhoni scratched around. Sachin was probably the only one playing comfortably. Bowling looked jaded & out of ideas & fielding, the weakest link, looked tired & blunted. For all the speculations, this Indian outfit, strangely has not displayed the hunger to win. Its surprising to see Dhoni being so meek on the field, the Captain Cool, seems to be running out of ideas & inspirations, as his record in test overseas gets another battering, having lost all the last six matches on the trot, three of them being innings defeats.
For Australia, there were records galore, as Ponting & Hussey stuck form with brilliantly grafted centuries. Skipper Clarke got to his maiden triple hundred unbeaten runs......there were two 250 + runs partnerships in the innings(a test record). The bowling was a little faded in the 2nd innings, but they stuck to their task & discipline to get the results. The team looks very well knit & committed to perform.

The next test match starts from 13th Jan at Perth, which is supposed to the fastest & whackiest of all pitches in Australia. Shane Watson is fit now & may come in place of Shaun Marsh, while Ryan Harris may replace Nathan Lyon. This means the pace attack would be more sharp & varied, adding to India's already cup full of woes. India would most probably drop Virat Kohli to bring in Rohit Sharma.....but it does not inspire any confidence for the visitors, as their batting has let them down miserably.

Man of the Match awarded to Michael Clarke, was unanimous.