Posted by: nestaquin | January 6, 2011

Newlands: Day Five Blog

The final day of the deciding Newlands Test is minutes from starting and even though South Africa appear to have batted themselves into an impregnable position there is still plenty to interest any fan of the game.

Broadly speaking, it has been a contest that has showcased the very best of Test cricket while also giving the cream of both teams an opportunity to remind all of us why they are labelled World Class.

With the willow Kallis and Tendulkar have starred in varying conditions under duress. To say their contributions have been monumental is a gross understatement.

With the nut Steyn has been at his very, very best while Harbhajan confounded his critics with his seven wickets in South Africa’s second dig.

As we start Day 5 all three results are still possible. India need 340 in 90 overs. South Africa require 10 wickets. I’d say a draw is most likely but there will be twists and turns and excellent cricket to keep spectators on the edge throughout.

Apologies for the brevity, it’s been a busy, hot and disappointing day. I encourage everyone to use the comments section to debate the match and share the experience. I’ll be around to add my two bobs worth and I look forward to sharing the match with all the good folk that visit 99.94.

DRINKS  (For me not the players)

43/1 (22)

Gambhir 24 Dravid 6

Like two prizefighters the opening pairs from both teams spent the first half hour sizing each other up waiting to see who would blink first.

Morkel was extracting unnerving and dangerous bounce from the deck but as the roller began to wear off the two paced nature of the pitch became apparent.

Ghambir, nursing an injured elbow from the first dig received a corker from Morkel first up and unbelievably was struck near the elbow again. After some treatment from the icepack and magic spray he continued to bravely get behind the ball and it appears that his injury isn’t hampering him too much.

Sehwag (11 from 44), who took most of Steyn’s opening spell, curtailed his natural aggression but eventually fell defending a shortish ball from Morkel to a regulation catch to Smith at first slip with the score on 27.

Dravid, possibly playing for his career, look as solid as ever but he was troubled by the uneven bounce in both Tsotsobe and Harris’ overs before my drinks break.

It’s going to be a hard slog for both teams but with the pitch deteriorating and bouncy South Africa look, at this stage at least, unlikely to lose.

For those looking for a feed of the match I’m reliably informed that you can find one by Googling or, however, they are burdened with layers of advertising. Use at your own risk!

LUNCH 53/1 (28)

Gambhir 32 Dravid 8

Only two results likely now with India still needing 287 from 62 overs.

It would appear that they are content with draw.

Still plenty of cricket left but Smith’s decision to not even consider a declaration yesterday afternoon may be a blessing for India.

The most dangerous bowler by a distance has been Morkel and South Africa will need him to fire after lunch if they are to have any chance of a win.

TEA 114/2 (56)

Gambhir 62 Tendulkar 7

In a session that began with Graeme Smith causing the batsmen trouble with his part-time tweakers India dug in further scoring 46 in the first hour without giving a chance.

While Gambhir tried to rotate the strike and put the very few bad balls away Dravid hung on like a limpet and his ultra-defensive approach gave Smith the opportunity to have six men surrounding the bat.

Dravid never looked completely comfortable and when he fell for 31 (112 balls) to a sharp Prince catch at third slip from the impressive Tsotsobe India found themselves at 106/2 still 234 in arrears with 41 overs to play.

Harris, under extreme pressure for his place now that Imran Tahir is available, was most unfortunate having a plum LBW refused and a sharp catch dropped by de Villiers at silly point.

After Dravid fell and with Sachin at the crease the match came alive for several overs. All of a sudden the pitch was spitting and Gambhir lost concentration for a short period. He was dropped by de Villiers at silly point and was also fortunate when misjudging a ball to leg that just fell in front of Peterson at short forward square leg.

India have no chance of a win and you’d think that 8 wickets is too many to take in one 34 over session. It will probably be grim stuff, however, Smith will be able attack without consequence, Gambhir could score a match saving century, Steyn and Morkel will have one last crack with a shiny cherry and that should make for an interesting end to what has been a terrific series between the best Test sides on offer at the beginning of 2011.

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  1. Everybody is saying Sehwag is the key. But I think, we have to see how Ghambir and Dravid does, because in all probability, India would be playing time today.

    • I was about to say Sehwag is the key, my foot. And he is gone already!

  2. Sehwag’s reputation outstrips his form this series.

    With a fine middle order India can afford his extravagance and if he falls early the rest can dig in for the day and reassess at tea.

  3. Agree with you, Rahul. Sehwag is the key if India dares to dream of a win. But India will most likely have to play for a draw, and so, Dravid, Sachin and VVS will be key. I am not including Gambhir because after his elbow injury in the 1st innings when he was on 91, he sat out the whole of SA 2nd innings.Morkel and Tsotsobe will target Gambhir’s elbows again.

    • And Morkel’s hit Gambhir’s elbow with his very first delivery !

      I feel for Gambhir’s pain, but this is test cricket.

    • Only took a couple of balls for Morne to find his elbow. That’s accuracy of the highest order!

  4. New ball critical.

  5. Interesting to see how the pitch settles after the rolling wears off. There were some worrying signs yesterday.

    Gambhir hit already. OUCH!

  6. can i be so bold as to ask where i could locate a decent stream of the game

    • Nesta you can delete this if its not ok. Maybe after a few minutes have passed though?!

      • It’s very welcome mate. If it drops out and you find another just one at a time though or the spam filter will squash it.

    • I’ve put the word out on twitter Pete. Hang in there and I’ll let you know.

    • Pete, I don’t know where one could locate a stream but a Google search should tell you. Most Indian software folks in the US and elsewhere depend on these streams, as I used to do a few years back :)

      Having said that, it is a pity that television companies do not serve the global cricket fans better. Here in India, we get to see any international cricket played any where (including the big bash T20s in OZ and other domestic T20 competitions), for no extra fee.

      10 overs so far and Gambhir hit once on the elbows, and once in the rib cage (ouch !) and both openers beaten a few times. But they are still there !

  7. Sehwag is on 7 off 33!! Is Jonathan Trott the new Shahid Afridi in this strange new universe?

    • I’ve been very impressed with Viru. He doesn’t usually show his defensive game which is very good when he applies himself.

      Morne is making life tough for Gambhir. The quality of cricket is outstanding!

      • Oh I’m impressed so far. He could be on 7 off 333 if it helps save India

  8. thankyou all, i can find streams but they are a bit choppy, ill try this

  9. Hmmm you wanna take those on big days like this. Openers hanging tough.

  10. Good bowling!! Sehwag couldn’t last. Almost a no-ball but he is just behind!! Smith made a comfortable catch look difficult.

    Is Dravid playing for his career today?

    • Ok..with Viru gone, it will be grim cricket from now on. Dhoni should send Pujara in now, but it will be Dravid. Sigh !

    • This could be the innings for Dravid, especially with next test series being at home for India. Selectors might think it better to ease in youngsters at home, unless Dravid decides to do a Ganguly/S. Waugh and announce a farewell tour. But I don’t Dravid doing that.

    • I hope not but expect it to be. Dravid’s the kind of guy who might want to go out with head held high, before people push him out. So what I see is him announcing the retirement either way after this series.

      Sadly, it doesnt seem like he can conjure up his best days again

      • Dravid is one of the nice guys in world cricket. I hope he gets the send off he obviously deserves. He’s earned it with his service to India over many many years.

        Remember Indian cricket when he began and where they are now. He is a big part of that and surely it will be recognised.

        • Well, we do tend to overlook him. Kind of take him for granted. Even once-in-a-blue-moon merchants like Harbhajan get far more credit than him. We’ll make all the right noises, i guess, when he announces retirement including articles on the “unsung hero”. But, whether we’ll give any meaningful recognition to him – I am not sure

  11. Quick mid-session update posted at the bottom of original article.

    Steyn on for his second spell!

  12. Harris playing for his career too with Imran Tahir now qualified for his wife’s country. SAF could sure use an experienced leggie today!

  13. Smith bowling! Would have liked Clarke to do the same in Sydney.

    • Do uou think India will have a go with 150 to get of the final 30 overs with 8 wickets in hand?

      • They’d be mad if they didn’t at least until a wicket fell. There is one obstacle to that strategy, your namesake currently 18 from 82 balls. He needs to start rotating the strike to even get near 150 to go by tea.

  14. Without images today – Is it more that both teams are playing safe first and attacking second or that the dominant team just cannot knock the other out?

    • South Africa not declaring yesterday was safe and India are batting very cautiously this morning. Sehwag’s 11 from 44 is illustrative of their approach.

      The last session was a bit disappointing considering what has come before it but South Africa have tried everything to squeeze a wicket including Smith bowling an over before lunch.

      India’s approach has reminded me of how they played on the last day in the infamous Sydney Test on their last tour DownUnder. That didn’t end well for them or Steve Bucknor!

      • Nesta,

        What other approach would you recommend to save this test? The SA bowlers are not giving many loose deliveries, are they?

        Sydney was a different matter altogether.India was almost home safe before they committed mass harakiri against Clarke, of all the people :)

        • I think there approach is sensible. I thought it was sensible in Sydney too till a whole host of things conspired against them.

          Surely, this match won’t end in the same way but I remember the match meandering along like this one and then just before tea it caught fire and everyone was burned!

          Just a feeling but I reckon at some point this afternoon something will give and this match will surprise too.

          In Sydney I thought India were keeping wickets in hand for a dash in the last 25 overs but Clarke’s lack of integrity and Bucknor’s incompetence squashed that.

          I think if India are only 1 or 2 down at tea they might consider chasing what is left because they will be in control of the match at that point.

          I guess we’ll just have to wait and see but I’m still hopeful of an exciting finish with both teams a chance.

          • Actually, I think it is Bucknor’s lack of integrity, nesta and probably, Clarke’s – I wouldnt say incompetenc for just elegantly rearranging your sentence – kind of confusion.

            Bucknor seemed to have an axe to grind against India. The way he mocked Rahul Dravid – of all people – indicating as if the latter was guilty of ball tampering by mock-playing a ball-tampering mime just as Dravid came in to bowl – not only was it in bad taste, it was unbecoming of his position. He used to wave off Parthiv Patel irritatedly and treat him as if he were a slave. It is behaviour like this that undermined his authority and led to indian players’ ultimatum against him. I wont blame the Indian players at all – he ruined TWO Sydney tests for India, and prevented India from making history in Australia TWICE. Looking at the way Ponting blows his fuse for non-events like he did recently, that was quite a warranted reaction from the Indian players and good comeuppance for Bucknor

  15. Is Steyn laying a trap for Gambhir here? Gambhir has picked up two boundaries so far, but also chased a wider one.

    • He is in form and has the ability to put the ball where he wants. There it is! A lovely leg-cutter that had Gambhir almost edging a loose drive.

      It’s so tight something has to give soon. It could be a flurry of boundaries or a wicket but it is getting very tense psychologically in the middle.

  16. The LBW was OUT! Harris’ inane grin is looking a little strained now.

    • Yep. He beat Dravid cold with an armball. Surprisingly, it was very good bowling from Harris.

  17. Even with the rabble that is the current Australian team, the concept that both teams have slugged it out for 14 days, seemingly happy just not lose on the 15th seems a bit alien. I guess the last decade has messed with my head a little bit after all.

  18. To be fair Smith gave India little chance, 340 in a day was too high a mountain even for the excellent Indian line-up on this pitch. If he declared when Kallis reached a ton yesterday we may yet have had a result.

    They’re shaking hands now 8 overs early.

    Kallis was heroic and if it wasn’t for him India would have probably won comfortably.

    That was tight but a tad dreary 166 in 82 overs is slow going, however, it would be nice to see the BaggyGreen in its current state show the same gumption.

    Very much looking forward to Tassie beating up Qld in the Big Bash tomorrow night!

    • Job done ! India maintains its unbeaten streak after the SL tour in 2008.And SA is yet to win a home series after beating Bangladesh in 2009.

      Would have been great to have won this test after having SA at 131/6 yesterday, but then that man Kallis is one of the greatest players ever, and he imposed himself.

      India – I don’t think played to their potential.Very few positives from this series.
      SA- Played at their best in the first test, and then became tad inconsistent.
      Umpiring – generally excellent; I don’t think UDRS would have changed the result of the series.

      Both captains should learn to be more attacking, especially when they have the advantage.

    • Half that much gumption would do. They don’t appear to have any. Really, they just don’t.


  19. Three Test series are just not good enough for the Greatest of Games.

    • Agreed. Especially when you have 2 high quality contestants. However, a part of me — that sympathizes with fast bowlers — is glad that sometimes there are only 3 Tests…because of the heartless scheduling! The Ashes, given their long history, were well scheduled…but very often (like for the 3rd test in this SA-Ind series) there are just 2 days between Tests! Ridiculous! (And you could see that Zaheer Khan was just about 90% physically…while the other Indian pacers were down on pace too on Day 4)

      But well done to both teams for giving us a tremendous series. Quality delivered, if not quantity (5 Tests).

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