Posts Tagged ‘Virender Sehwag’

A World Cup win can bring satisfaction of a lifetime and champion players rummage around for a recliner to relax while the medal sits on the chest perpetually. But winds of change have refashioned perceptions, where the IPL money rules the roost and other issues move to the back-burner.

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Rain on the second day in Galle brought with it unidentical twins of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet at the porch of Indian dressing room. Images of Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina masquerading as Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt of Titanic stole the show on a washed-out day two.

Indians seemed in no mood to reflect on what went wrong on day one or how to remedify it on day three. Dhoni brigade appeared to have resigned to the fact that the Test was drifting towards a draw. But what’s more important is that Sri Lanka could still defy odds and win, whereas India needed something close to a miracle to harbor similar hopes.

Overnight rain and slight morning drizzle prevented covers from coming off, delaying the start of play. But once it began, there were some unlikely heroes from both sides that played leading roles in the day-three script. While the Indian pacers seemed to be back in the pink, Sri Lankan tail wagged like never before to regain control of the driving wheel. Later,  it was only the swashbuckling bat of Virender Sehwag who calmed a nervous Indian batting card at the close of play.

One wondered if this was the same Ishant Sharma darting in towards the batsmen in the morning. The gangly pacer ran in with purpose and spit venom that brought back memories from the series Down Under. Paranavitana could add just one to his overnight score of 110 before he nicked Ishant’s outswinger, which was pouched by a diving Dhoni. Samaraweera was never allowed to settle by Ishant and Mithun who was also bowling in the right areas. He couldn’t recover mentally after being hit on the helmet and was chickened out by Mithun after being dropped at slip by Dravid.

Circumstances alter cases and if Sri Lanka thought of pressing on, it certainly went on the backfoot with two quick wickets. Jayawardene and Mathews gave the Indian pacers the respect they demanded. A 62-run partnership ensued but Ishant – getting his second bite of the cherry – sent back the stylish Jayawardene (48) leg before wicket. Mathews (41) was Ishant’s third victim of the morning, making life merrier for the Delhi boy.

Things had changed dramatically with four wickets for 88 runs on the third morning, which became five in the fifth over after lunch with the wicket of Prasanna Jayawardene. At 393/7, it was time to sink or swim for the Sri Lankan bowlers Herath and Malinga. However, neither Dhoni nor Sangakkara would have had a clue of what was coming up.

Herath, in particular, came out to whoop it up. Though Malinga took his time to get into the groove, Herath had the bat tied to his tail that wagged and hit the ball all over. Malinga then joined the party and soon Dhoni was clutching his straws and swapping his bowlers around. The scratchy partnership developed into a smooth one, boundaries started flowing, the scoreboard swelled and both the tailenders registered their maiden half centuries.

It was just a question of one wicket and the debutant – Mithun – got that for his skipper, with Harbhajan lapping up a skier from Malinga (64) to end a highly improbable 115-run stand for the eighth wicket. With 520 runs registered and time at a premium, the Lankan skipper didn’t wait for Herath’s (80 not out) century and called his comrades back.

It wasn’t rocket science to decipher that a good opening could allay Indian fear of following on. But coming on the back of a career-best batting performance, Malinga had his tail up and did what he does best, i.e., taking wickets. He took care of Gambhir on just the second ball of the inning and sent tremors in the Indian ranks.

Sehwag, though, was his usual enterprising-self but more importantly, stayed for the length of the day, which took care of the run rate. Just when Dravid and Sehwag looked safe as a castle, an idiotic run caught Dravid (18) off guard and he fumed his way back to the pavillion. Sachin started like a bastion to Sehwag but perhaps that led to his downfall, giving Murali his wicket number 793.

It looked precarious at 101/3 but a watchful Laxman and an unfazed Sehwag (85 not out) succeeded in coming out undefeated on day 3, breathing a little bit easier at 140/3. Looking at the match as it stands, if the rain keeps away, India will have more than a handful to do against Murali & Co, who would certainly be smelling blood by now.

The Ashes is considered the most coveted bilateral series in the cricket calendar but it has faced a stiff competition of late. The quality of cricket and the ruthless intent on display makes an India-Australia series the most sought-after contest of the present era and leaves the Ashes way behind.

It all started with the Dravid-Laxman partnership in the famous Kolkata Test in 2001 where India turned the tables on Australia after being asked to follow on. It marked the beginning of rivalry between the two teams that matched the Ashes in every sense and sometimes went a notch ahead. What has been noticeable of late is that the rivalry has instigated individual battles, sometimes even leading to the courtrooms. Sledging, alleged racism, skirmishes, complaints, hearings have all been part of an India-Australia series on a very consistent basis. 

Talking of individual battles, there will be a plenty on show in the upcoming Test series beginning October 9. Andrew Symonds – reportedly gone fishing – is going to be missed badly. Nevertheless, the script has many more characters who will be going after each other. I have tried to highlight a few of those individual battles to look forward to. Which one of the following you think is going to top the charts?

1. Sehwag versus Lee

2. Tendulkar versus Lee

3. Hayden versus Harbhajan

4. Ponting versus Harbhajan

5. Ponting versus Ishant

6. Hayden versus Ishant

Your comments will decide which of these is the most-awaited contests of the series!