Tuesday, March 28, 2017

India Risks and Wins

Much of the focus going into the deciding Test between India and Australia was on the hosts being deprived of its Captain and master batsman Virat Kohli

The irony was his absence proved a timely boost for Team India.

With Ajinkya Rahane never getting sucked into the verbal barbs from the Aussies and in the process losing the plot as Kohli had frequently in the series propelling himself and the team into a downward spiral. Kohli's injury came at the right moment for India, restoring the focus of the 11 commandeered by Rahane standing out for his level-headed leadership that oozed calm and composure.

In truth, everything transpiring since the disappointing draw in Ranchi has been a master class on and off the field by India.

The courage going into the cut-throat deciding Test deserves the highest praise. Highlighted by responding to their inability to get 20 wickets in the last Test by replacing a batsman with a 5th bowler. A risky proposition taking into account that their batting line-up has spluttered all series long with only 2 batsmen averaging over 35. Along with the extra bowler being the speculative entity of Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav on debut.

The charming over the wrist spinners selection proved inspired with him putting the breaks on Australia in the first innings when they waltzed into Lunch at a dominating position of 130/1. After the break, Kuldeep masterminded the collapse with 4 scalps that proved pivotal in the match with the Aussies made to regret the 150 odd runs they left out on the ground.

Symbolically, Rahane was huge in initially turning to Kuldeep and then backing him to the hilt.

The 'he who risks' thread running through the post mortem of this match was lost on the Aussies

It has stood out all series long that Dave Warner was badly out of his depth. With it etched all over his stress riddled face in the 4th innings in Ranchi with him reduced to grasping desperately to hope with belief gone. He had to be replaced at the top of the order for this Test with Usman Khawaja. A suggestion that on face value would be scoffed at after witnessing Khawaja's clueless nature against spin in the Sri Lankan series last year but he deserved a chance to prove it was an aberration.

Factors that were an entree to the main course facilitating the expected difference pre-series between the calibre of both Teams to finally take centre stage.

The watershed moment was the third day.

Initially, with the pivotal 7th wicket partnership between Saha and Jadeja that took the Indians from 52 runs arrears of the Australian first innings total of 300 to 17 runs ahead. The lead minute when Cummins finally removed Jadeja, but the psychological blows definitive to the Aussies along with the fillip it provided the hosts.

On dismissing the Indians with the lead 32, the Aussies were reduced to rubble by a spell of fast bowling from the top drawer from Umesh Yadav with brilliant support from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Amongst the carnage, Steve Smith fell to overconfidence with an ambitious pull shot off Kumar that cannoned onto his stumps when he looked more than capable of leading Australia to a decent lead and remarkable series win. The Aussie skippers dismissal instantly made me revert to Viv Richards in the 1983 World Cup final. A similar iresistible force at the time that Smith is now but betrayed by the same mindset with his team falling with him.

The next 8 wickets could only must 101 runs with the Indian attack resembling foxes in the henhouse. The spin twins of Jadeja and Ashwin were deadly, with their pride pricked by Rahane's decision to throw the ball to Kuldeep first up. The duo wrecking the Aussie batting with combined figures of 53/6 where both were nigh on unplayable, in particular, Ashwin.

When the obliteration ended it left India needing only 101 to complete the series win.

Getting to the target with the loss of 2 wickets with Rahane once more standing out for his game awareness. Snuffing out any lingering hope the Aussies had after Pujara had been brilliantly run out by Glenn Maxwell with the total on 46 by coming in and calming nerves with a brilliant counter-attacking knock of 38 off 27 balls.

Including two brilliant sixes off tearaway quick Pat Cummins in one over, the first a hook shot that was dismissive of a bowler getting it through at 140 kmh followed next ball by backing away to leg and a rifling flat with a crowd killer over cover.

Shots that would have had the aforementioned Master Blaster Viv Richard raising his glass of Master of Malt Antiguan Rum in tribute

2 comments:

  1. Nicely written.India were trying to win the match and didn't hesitated to drop a batsman in favor of an unknown Bowler whereas Aus were too defensive by letting Warner continue. In the end one team looked very motivated to won the BG trophy whereas other team looked like playing a a draw.

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    1. Thank you for the comment Bikash ji

      Agree that the game was decided by courage at the selection table

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