Friday, November 16, 2012

India-England first Test; Sehwag, Pujara take India to 323

Ahmedabad: Choosing to bat first after winning the toss at the dry track here, Team India was comfortably placed at 323/4 at the end of day’s play.

Virender Sehwag top scored with 117 while Cheteshwar Pujara remained not out with his innings of 98.

With Virender Sehwag being at his blistering best- as he always is when he plays in India, the hosts got off to a good start. His run-a-ball innings of 117 (15X4,1X6) included elegant cover drives and a fine display of delicacy in hisbatting.

His century comes after two years. Incidentally, the last time he scored a century (173)was at the same venue against New Zealand.

Virender Sehwag’s wagon wheel of his innings of 117 against England at Ahmedabad Picture courtesy: © ESPNcricinfo ltd

Along with Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir, they managed to score 120 runs without losing a wicket at lunch.  

Their 134-run partnership for the first wicket was broken by Graeme Swann as ripped off Gambhir’s timber as it slid inside as he looked to play it on the off side. He played a cautious innings of 45 from 111 deliveries.

Swann was the highlight from England’s side with his figures of 4/85 in 32 overs. But the visitors were sloppy on the field with misfields and dropped catches.  

Meanwhile, Sehwag continued his blitzkrieg from the other end with a plundering six off Tim Bresnan’s bowling as the ball sailed over long-on.

Pujara played sensibly as he kept rotating the strike with Sehwag to continue the momentum. The latter brought up his hundred with a boundary of Swann’s bowling.

Their 90-run second wicket partnership came to an end with Najafgarh batsman completely misjudging the Swann’s turn and got bowled while trying to sweep.

Sachin Tendulkar added 13 runs to the total- he succumbed to the bowling of Swann.
Virat Kohli also showed some aggressive intent by scoring three boundaries in his innings of 19 before getting bowled to Swann’s bowling.

As Swann broke open the top order, Pujara kept the scoreboard ticking who bought up his second Test fifty.

His innings exemplified resilience and impressive stroke-play. He ended the day with a boundary off the last ball taking his score to 98*.  He was accompanied by Yuvraj Singh (24*) on the other end.

Monday, August 20, 2012

VVS Laxman: the irreplaceable silent hero

One of the finest knocks that Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman played was inside the conference room of the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium in Hyderabad on August 18th. It was built with humility, power, elegance and the usual ingredient in his innings- focus.

He announced retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect; a declaration which came as a surprise even to the chief of selectors K. Srikkanth. It is necessary to point out though, that this was not the farewell the man deserved for the services he meted out to the nation for over 15 years.

V.V.S. Laxman- a class apart!

A day before announcement, a national daily had reported that the veteran player had been hurt by the recent comments in the cricketing circles about his dip in form. However, ironically, he scored a marvellous 169 versus Karnataka State Cricket Association President’s XI. It was obvious from the immediacy of the decision. A newspaper rightly titled its piece on the batsman’s retirement- ‘Retired Hurt’ and it couldn’t be more apt.  

The contemplation for this decision had begun already before the Ind-NZ series and it was expected that his home turf would witness the wristy magician’s last walk on the cricket field. However, and as usual, he managed to surprise. He did that in 2001 when India had almost conceded a defeat and a resilient Laxman scored that gem of 281 to win the match. His innings of 148 versus Australia (probably overshadowed with Rahul Dravid’s 233) epitomized fighting spirit.

He was a silent assassin for the team and set an example with his irreplaceable determination. His hunger to play the game for the ‘team’ elevated him in the league of the extraordinary gentlemen almost from his debut. The quality was witnessed very differently in his match-winning innings of 73 versus Australia at Mohali in 2010. It was a fiery innings when passion his and aggression were particularly visible on the field. Take a look:

In a nutshell, the latter half of this decade has seen three of the holy four cricketers hanging up boots at the right time. His last series in Australia could be one exception in his performances- probably the time he felt the age was catching up to him. Nevertheless, the silent hero would never be forgotten from fans like me.

His successor S.Badrinath, who replaced him, would have a huge responsibility to fulfill. Given his experience in mind, as a fan, I can only hope that he could come up to the levels of the great cricketer.

Thank you VVS for all that you have done for the game. You will surely be missed. 

Pictures © Getty Images