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    March 05, 2006

    One rule for bowlers, one rule for batsmen

    A soporific final day, when India were evidently playing for a draw with Dravid and Jaffer putting on 168 in 61 overs (rr: 2.75), was brought to life after Dravid and Jaffer got out in quick succession. Pathan and Dhoni were promoted in the batting order and suddenly, India were looking at a chase of around 8 an over for 20 overs. In the 13 overs after Jaffer got out, the batsmen made 92 runs. Tendulkar joined in the fun too. While it did obviously give England a scare, all England needed to do was to ensure that they took wickets, which they actually did. With Kaif and Laxman in the dressing room, India were ensuring that if it came to batting out defensively, it wouldn't be all that tough.

    There is no such thing as a moral victory in sport though. If anything, the only one who'd leave Nagpur with a moral victory is the third umpire Shivaram, whose ridiculous 'not out' decision left open new discussion on whether quality technology is of any use when the officials are incompetent to make the full use of it. Actually he'll be pretty relieved the game ended in a draw. Perhaps in another era or in another ground, the spectators may have reacted more violently had India lost.

    So England and India head to the second test still on level terms. England's bowling, which was certainly their strength when they came to India became even more of one after the high profile exits in the batting order. The bowlers did superbly in the first innings but couldn't do the job when it was really required, in the final innings. While Panesar is undoubtedly an exciting prospect, there must be serious thought about what Blackwell's role is. He bowled 7 overs in the first innings and 12 in the second. Panesar bowled 58, more than thrice what Blackwell bowled. Blackwell also batted quite badly in the first innings with his dismissal towards the end of the first day's play. England will be obviously pleased with Alastair Cook, Paul Collingwood and Matthew Hoggard and with the fact that they scored 393 after being 246/7, taking the first innings lead and declaring from a position of strength.

    Wasim Jaffer's first test century means that he is in the side for the near future definitely. He certainly looks a far more compact player than Gambhir and is a better foil for the free-stroking, adventurous and inconsistent Sehwag than Gambhir has been. In fact, when he and Dravid were batting, it seemed like test cricket as it was meant to be! India's problems lie in what to do about Harbhajan and Laxman. While Harbhajan bowled in both innings, taking 2/172 in 64 overs. Yes, Kumble also had similarly ridiculous figures, but he at least looked like taking a wicket ... and he actually was denied one. Laxman, on the other hand, didn't get an opportunity to bat in the second innings.

    This is how the match ended. It is obvious that light good enough for a bowler (Harbhajan) to bat in is not good enough for a batsman (Laxman).
    78.2 Harmison to Harbhajan Singh, OUT: thats the end of that! Yorker, full and fast, and uproots middle and leg stump.

    India 260/6, Partnership of 8
    Harbhajan Singh b Harmison 7 (7b 1x4 0x6)
    SR Tendulkar 28* (19b 5x4) SJ Harmison 17.2-4-48-2

    VVS Laxman finally comes out to bat. England need just four more wickets to win. But it's pretty gloomy out there and the umpires have offered the light and off they go. That's the end of the first Test. It ends in a draw after a dramatic push for victory by India.

    Thus spake Jagadish @ 5:09 PM |
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    3 sledge(s):

    few things which made me happy about yday's final "push" by india
    - scaring the englishmen
    - tiring the regular english bowlers. if india had decided to bat out a dull draw even after tea, we wud have seen the likes of cook/strauss, etc getting a bowl and who knows cook might have even ended up with a wicket in his debut test to add to his hundred. these things wud have given a good rest to eng's regular bowlers - greg and dravid made sure it wasnt the case by trying to reach the impossible.
    - i realized that one person named sachin can be moved from the #4 position. for some years (irrespective of failures) it looked like it was his own possession and yday it was changed. more than india trying to make a chase out it, the thing that was quite a phenomenal change was that sachin wasn't batting at #4. i dont remember the last time it happened, not taking the nightwatchmen into consideration - one match i cud remember is when ganguly shielded him in aus

    By Blogger Ganesh (06-Mar-2006, 1:04:00 PM)  

    I cant seem to agree with your comment. Harbajan's dismissal probably prompted the umpires to take a look at the lights.

    By Anonymous Prathaap (07-Mar-2006, 3:13:00 AM)  

    ganesh: True, the charge meant that England had to bowl the main overs. With back-to-back tests, it was a good idea! Tendulkar being moved from #4 is something I'd written about here earlier. Good to see that flexibility also applies to him.

    prathaap: The ball before Harbhajan got out, he'd smacked Harmison through long-on for four. I know he does bat crankily, but I doubt if the light was so bad that he just swung blindly and connected. Why wait for a dismissal to take a look at the light meter? Harbhajan would have been fuming. His average would have gone up to 15.82 rather than end up at 15.54!

    By Blogger Jagadish (07-Mar-2006, 11:50:00 AM)  

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