Posted by: nestaquin | October 15, 2008

Border Gavaskar Trophy: First Test Player Review

We don’t often take requests at 99.94 but after receiving a polite note asking for a Bangalore report card on each player involved in the First Test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy, The Tooting Trumpet and I kickstarted machine and memory and did our duty in keeping our readers content. Toots ran the rule over the Indian side while I gently critiqued the individual performances of the Australian XI.

INDIA

Virender Sehwag – Always a big wicket these days, but the pitch didn’t suit his swashbuckling style. Nevertheless, played a highly positive innings immediately after the first Aussie knock, an innings that allowed India to go into Day Three with at least a degree of optimism. There’s a big one coming soon, so the question will be whether the bowlers will be able to take the twenty wickets needed to drive on to the win. Bowled tidily and might need to bowl a lot more, both in this series and in the future.

Gautam Gambhir – Two scores of twenty-odd underplay his contribution to this Test which was one of allowing Sehwag the chance to fire. His three and a half hours at the crease showed us what we know – he is a classy bat who should score more.

Rahul Dravid – Five years ago, the hard fought fifty in the first innings would have been a hard fought century. There might be one more big score left in him, there might not – there aren’t lots of big scores, that’s for sure. The Trumpet hopes a great career isn’t tainted by playing a series too many.

Sachin Tendulkar – Dismissed within sight of BC Lara’s world record for Test runs. But that is a personal milestone – what’s really important is that he laid to rest any doubts about him scoring runs in tough second innings with a vital 49 spread over three hours during most of which his wicket could have provoked a series shifting collapse. At some point in the Second Test, he will be the toast of all India, but those 49 runs were as valuable as any of the eleven thousand odd that came before them.

Sourav Ganguly – With three more Tests to play, he looked relaxed in the genuine warmth of the crowd. Never dominated, but played a full role in securing the draw. Will probably need to bowl more in the last three Tests.

VVS Laxman – Couldn’t get going at all in a painfully out of touch first innings duck, but showed his mettle by resisting the Aussies for 46 concentration disturbed second innings overs. Aus might need to dismiss him early if his threat is to be blunted.

MS Dhoni – A difficult pitch for a keeper-batsman, but he really should be doing more with his two main skills. His third skill – modelling, sorry captaincy – when Kumble was off the field, showed his excellent cricket brain and galvanised the team. The big question, once anointed as the next skipper, is whether he can manage the workload. The Trumpet feels he would be better advised to hand the gauntlets to Parthiv Patel and concentrate on making himself a Number Six.

Anil Kumble – The Captain has had a glittering career, but, aside from the result, it’s hard to think of how this match could have been worse for him. Whether injured or simply knackered, his time has surely passed.

Harbhajan Singh – Bowled without much confidence or variation but batted with great self-belief to wrench the game away from Australia and back into drawing territory. Is likely to be the sole specialist spinner soon, so will need to re-discover the loop and bounce that makes him so dangerous.

Zaheer Khan – On a pitch that gave him little to work with, he bowled with great heart to take five Aus first innings wickets, then batted with a perfect mix of attack and defence that caught Punter out as he eased off expecting to wrap up the Indians quickly. He was a captain’s dream in this match – now can he back that up with three more performances to match?

Ishant Sharma – Giant frame, giant hair, giant talent. His wonderful action and superb wrist position meant that he troubled every batsman consistently. Any captain would want him to bowl as much as possible – his captains must resist that urge as the man is still a boy. There aren’t many good share tips around at the moment, but buying futures in Ishant Sharma looks a copper-bottomed investment.

AUSTRALIA

Matthew Hayden – A poor start with the bat after recovering from his Achilles injury that cut his Caribbean tour short. To be fair, he received a rough decision in the first innings and was looking to score freely in the second. On the plus side, his fielding at slip was very good but with few chances presented he did his best work chasing byes to the boundary and keeping Brad Haddin company.

Simon Katich – Occupied the crease for long periods in both innings, and in doing so has cemented his place at the top of the order for the rest of the series. Resolute and dour he dug his team out of trouble twice and although his batting isn’t pretty his efforts were effective and key to Australia controlling the majority of the match.

Ricky Ponting – A magnificent debut century on Indian soil in the first innings that caused the home team to defend from the second session on the first day onwards. A more thoughtful approach in his batting and captaincy was welcome and his sporting declaration early on the fifth day kept his team and millions of spectators interested right till the close. He showed that although approaching 34 years of age, he still has plenty of spring in his legs when he snared a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Rahul Dravid on the fifth day.

Michael Hussey – Brilliant and dependable as usual. A big century and last out in the first innings and in the second dig he was looking to repeat it only to be bowled leaving a freak delivery from Harbhajan Singh. A masterful effort by a cricketer at the peak of his career.

Michael Clarke – Failed with the bat yet made contributions with the ball and was always electric and inspirational in the field. Narrowly missed the stumps with a few run out attempts but few other cricketers would have created the chances. Bowled 37 tight overs at only a fraction above two runs every six balls. Snared a couple of wickets and will be better for the outing. A decent effort.

Shane Watson – His first Test in over three years and it was a reasonable match for the muscular Queenslander. He scored some important runs in setting up the declaration and with Haddin revived Australia’s chances on the fourth afternoon. He bowled to Ponting’s plans throughout and his bouncer, which struck both Ganguly and Ishant, looks a dangerous weapon. An encouraging second debut but will need to continue improving.

Brad Haddin – Scored runs in important partnerships in both innings and his technique appears sound for Indian conditions. He proved conclusively that statistics can deceive by breaking the Australian record for byes in a match while keeping with fluidity, purpose and zest.

Cameron White – The debutant, who was preparing to play for Victoria a week ago, did fairly well considering his abbreviated preparation. Naturally nervous in the first innings, his second dig in Test cricket was exactly what his captain asked for and while his bowling wasn’t top notch he improved with every over bowled. An encouraging beginning to his Test career.

Brett Lee – Wasted the new ball in the first innings but throughout he was aggressive and dangerous. He scored some valuable runs in his only innings and his partnership with Hussey was vital to Australia posting a competitive score.  Fielded very well but expectations are high and he must perform better with the cherry in hand.

Mitchell Johnson – The pick of the bowlers smashing through the Indian top-order with clever variations in the first innings. Mindful of back to back Tests, Ponting used him sparingly in the second innings but despite losing his line periodically he bowled well and will undoubtedly trouble the Indians in the matches to come.

Stuart Clark – Nursing an elbow complaint Big Stu did what he does best, landing the ball on a nagging length and patiently waiting for an error. Received little reward for his efforts but was tidy and did a good job for his captain.

Tomorrow: Visit before play for a review of the Second Test in Mohali.

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Responses

  1. Thanks guys for that. I only managed to see the first 2 days since I was on Holiday. Thats a fair round up as any :)

    Cheers, Will check in for the 2nd test preview.

    Keep up the good work and cheers for the link up !

  2. played a highly positive innings immediately after the first Aussie declaration, an innings that allowed India to go into Day Three


    We were all out in the first dig, Hussey the last to fall..

    I thought Haydo’s got a bad decision from Rauf in both digs, hopefully his luck turns in episode 2

  3. I’m sure Toots put that error in to make sure someone was reading!!

    I’ll amend before the quibbling editor of Pappus’ Plane pops in.

  4. Moses – In my defence, I’m so unused to an Aus collapse that I had it down as a declaration in my mind! Thanks for pointing that out and thanks to Nesta for any correction!

  5. “keeping Brad Haddin company”! Ha! I always felt the slippers were the skipper’s mates. There they stood, chatting away all day, telling each other stories about their week at work, while the rest of us did the hard yakka in the field. Wankers.

  6. I follow Ishant Sharma’s career with an eagle eye, I expect great things from him, possibly the greatest of things. I loved the wrapup, Nesta. What an intriguiging series this is!!

  7. Pepp – Good to see you here. Your boys will need all your fervent support in the Second Test I feel. If Aus bowlers deliver twenty wickets and the batsmen get more than the Indians, I promise that my praise will be even greater than yours!

  8. I’m with Pepp – expect great things from the man they call Instant Karma. But I really enjoyed this evaluation.

    Expect a lot more from Dhoni and White starting very soon.


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