Posted by: nestaquin | October 19, 2008

Border Gavaskar Trophy Second Test Day Two Stumps

Apart from a few brief moments of Dhoni madness, India smashed Australia on the second day at Mohali and now find themselves in such a powerful position that only the weather, a natural disaster or a miraculous partnership could prevent them from going one up in the series.

The first session panned out perfectly for the hosts. After nightwatchman Ishant Sharma’s dismissal to Peter Siddle, Ganguly and Dhoni built a partnership that was as balanced as it was calculated.

Ganguly rotated the strike while Dhoni attacked and the heavy legged Australian bowlers had no answer to their thoughtful approach. The partnership continued after lunch until Ganguly decided to join the attack on Australia’s weary bowlers upon reaching his 16th Test century but only managed to hole out to Brett Lee at mid-off from a wide Cameron White delivery.

It was an exceptional innings by Ganguly and if this is truly his last series, he will undoubtedly be leaving the international game on his own terms and in peak form. Something very few champions have the sense to do.

His last match in Nagpur is bound to be as emotional and remembered for Indians as Steve Waugh’s last match is for his fellow countrymen and women.

Coming in with India teetering at 163/4, his century partnerships, yesterday with Tendulkar and today with Dhoni, essentially gave India the platform to play the rest of the match on their terms and in the afternoon session his team mates and captain certainly took full advantage of the situation Sourav had worked so hard to create.

After Ganguly’s dismissal, captain MS Dhoni decided that it was he and he alone that would need to do the rest of the batting and while he struck several big blows with the tail in attendance his indifference to their abilities cost him his century.  The confusion he caused with his approach provided much needed comical relief for the Australian supporters but their mirth was short lived.

Hayden was bowled by Zaheer in the first over and Ponting fell LBW to a sharp seaming delivery from Ishant soon after tea. When Katich played on to debutant spinner Mishra 40 minutes later it was left to Hussey and Clarke to try and navigate their way to stumps against some very fine bowling.

The Australian middle order pair had to contend with Zaheer Khan bowling sharp and full while swinging the ball late both ways, Harbhajan flighting the ball just beyond the batsmen’s reach, Ishant in brief, fast, volatile spells and wrist spinner Mishra who bowled a lovely stock ball leg-break with a well disguised wrong’un.

Combine the fresh, motivated bowling attack with clever attacking field settings and an excellent performance in the field and there can be nothing but admiration for the skill and defiance of Hussey and Clarke.

However, tragedy struck the partnership on the penultimate ball of the day and it was perhaps the finest piece of cricket in the match and encapsulates why MS Dhoni should be leading the Test team permanently.

With only two balls left before stumps, MS Dhoni instructed Mishra to bowl around the wicket, something the little leggie hadn’t attempted in his eight previous overs. It seems an obvious ploy to try something different but it shows that Dhoni was willing to work for a wicket with every ball at his disposal.

The batsman Clarke, who had already navigated a tough session and was looking to the dressing room with an eye on tomorrow, had to readjust his stance and his thinking and after two days pressure in the hot sun he was probably expecting the bowler to do the obvious; Land one in the footmarks and try to bowl him round his legs, as a ball in the previous Mishra over had turned square when pitched in the rough to Hussey.

The defense for a right hander against this type of tactic is to make sure you get your left leg out to the ball and kick it away especially when there are several close catchers surrounding the bat and the hour is late.

Clarke was looking to do just that but he was deceived and paid the ultimate price for premeditating his shot selection and not playing the ball on its merits.

The perfectly pitched and disguised wrong’un Mishra delivered, considering the context, can only be described as Warnesque, as it deceived the batsman in flight and turn but crucially in thought.

It was the perfect ending to an almost perfect day for India and they now have Australia in a position where they can dominate them for the rest of the match and possibly the series.

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Responses

  1. I can only add that it was an engrossing day’s play and we should have another tomorrow.

  2. I think that last over dismissal showed why the lovers of test cricket love it. Its been a long time since I’ve seen such a classic piece of cricket.

  3. Samir,

    Australians have been so blessed with the Warne era that we saw moments of cricketing genius in almost every match.

    Most of my countrymen are only now realising that we seldom value something until it is gone.

    Mishra looks a very good bowler and with Dhoni leading India seem a different team.

    Another great day is promised tomorrow and hopefully for Australia’s sake someone can accompany Hussey to the follow-on and beyond.

  4. It is quite generous of mentioning Warne and Mishra in the same post. Though I am still very agnostic about IPL’s future, I will have to give credit to it for Mishra’s debut.

    He had been the forgotten man of Indian cricket in spite of his consistent performances and gradual improvement in Ranji Trophy. The fact that he plays for a weak Haryana side had as much to do with it as Piyush Chawla’s entry into the national imagination by memorably bowling Tendulkar with a googly in Challenger Trophy finals in 2005.

    His excellent bowling for Delhi Daredevils (including a hat trick) brought him back within selectors’ focus and was rewarded with a India ‘A’ spot where he had some fine figures.

    I hope he and Chawla can fulfill their potential and fill in Anil Kumble’s jumbo boots.

  5. Saurabh – That’s a very good point.

    Nesta – Warne may well have been more missed over here, as us Brits always considered him a miracle worker, wristies being non-existent over here.

  6. I really think Hogg retired a year too early. He did not do too worse than Warne against India. With a bit more success against the Windies and the consequent confidence, he could have been handy here.

    But India will have to solve the captaincy conundrum. What would be the ideal time for transition from Kumble to Dhoni. Dhoni has been nothing short of a miracle man in the shorter form of the game. But can he cope with captaincy, batting and keeping together in tests? Is he good enough to play solely as a number 6 in tests? Should we have Sehwag as the captain. Thank God, I am not a selector!

  7. Hogg did retire early and signed an ICL contract because he wasn’t guaranteed a place in the side as everyone expected Stuart Macgill to continue for a few more years.

    India play inspired cricket under Dhoni and the selector’s hardest job is to convince Anil Kumble that his time is up.

    Perhaps they could arrange his send off to coincide with Sourav Ganguly’s in Nagpur thus killing two birds with one stone.

    Australia retired Warne, McGrath and Langer in the one match and it was a grand memorable occasion.


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