August 8, 2005

What a match !!!!

August 08, 2005 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
What a test match ? Unbelievable. Who said Test Matches have lost their charm ? One Dayers have been a boon to Test match cricket, more runs, more wickets and no dull draws. The Ashes is up and running, England having levelled the 5 match series 1-1. On the morning of the first day of the 2nd Ashes Test match, Glenn McGrath trod on a cricket ball during warm up and hurt his ankle. It was diagnossed as so bad that he won't be match fit till the 4th Test. This was indeed a big morale booster for the England side who were a beleagured lot after their big loss at Lord's in the opening Ashes encounter.And what transpired later would be a memorable test match.

Ponting won the toss and surprisingly, on a batting friendly pitch at Edgbaston, elected to bowl, even without Glenn McGrath. I wonder whether he wanted to signal to England that McGrath or no McGrath, Aussies would believe in their bowling attack and go for the kill. England, put into bat, started off in bliding fashion, and scored runs at a fact click of more than 4 an over !! Trescothick and Strauss put on a century stand, before Strauss fell once again to the guiles of Warne. Warne has another bunny now ! Trescothick went on to make 90 and would be disappointed for having missed out on scoring his maiden Test Hundred against the Aussies. England then had a minor collapse and were suddenly 187/4 with Pietersen and Flintoff at the crease.

Pietersen and Flintoff would demolish the Aussie attack, with scant respect to any of them. Ponting kept up his attacking fields, but the duo went on the rampage and scored at more than a run a ball in their century stand.It was raining sixes in Edgabston by now, Flintoff murdering the Aussie bowlers, smashing 5 sixes in his first innings score of 68 off just 62 balls. Immediately after tea on the day 1, Gillespie snared the wicket of Flintoff. But Pietersen wasn't done yet, and with the help of the tail, crossed the 400 run mark at a frenetic pace of 5 per over, in under 80 overs ! Rain stopped play and Aussies did not have to bat for a testing half an hour towards the end of play on day 1.

Day 2 and the Aussies were hoping to capitalise on a good pitch for batting. But they had a disastrous start, with Hayden falling for the first ball of the day to Mathew Hoggard. Ponting and Langer took the attack to the English bowlers , Ponting being particularly severe enroute to his half century. But he did not last too long and was dismissed by Giles for 62. Langer stuck it out while Australia kept losing wickets at regular intervals, their innings folding on day 2 itself on 308, handing England a healthy lead of 99 runs. Australia's run rate in their innings ? 4 per over !! England survived the last half hour of play on day 1, well almost !! Warne again got his new bunny, Strauss, bowled yet again ! Mathew Hoggard was sent as England's nightwatchman and he stuck it out with Trescothick. End of day 2. 715 runs in 160 overs, and 21 wickets in 2 days !!! Test Cricket !! WOW !

Come day 3 and England slumped dramatically, to the pace of Lee. England were 31/4 and soon 75/6. Andrew Flintoff still at the crease with a shoulder injury hampering his left arm movement while batting. England would soon find themselves in big trouble at 131/9, Shane Warne again, haunting the England batsman, with another 5 wicket haul.England were just 230 runs ahead and the game was still alive and Australia had more than a good chance of winning the match. Though on the ground, the highest 4th innings total to be made was 278. Flintoff took the Aussie bowlers too the cleaners, hammering Kasprowicz and Lee for sixes and fours. Kasprowicz was taken for 17 runs in an over, including 2 huge sixes and a boundary. Brett Lee found the ball he hurled at 145 kph, going back at 180 kph and going out of the stand. Flintoff was on fire and along with Simon Jones added an invaluable 51 runs for the last wicket, before Warne got his 6th wicket of the innings and another 10 wicket haul in test cricket. That left him on 599 test wickets. What an achievement by the best leg spinner of all time !

Hayden has not been in the best of forms during this English summer , and it was evident from the way he batted on the 3rd day. He scratched around and showed glimpses of his best, and England were not able to breaktrhough the opening stand.Chasing 282 for a win, Australia were 47 for no loss. Flintoff took the field even though he had a shoulder injury. Whom does Vaughan turn to ? Flintoff. And didn't he respond ? First he got rid of the reliable in form Langer, and then bowled a hostile spell to Ponting, with pace and bounce, and got him in the very same over.Game on.Martyn and Hayden put on a partnership, but Australia kept losing wickets, with all the England bowlers chipping in with wickets.Australia had stumbled to 137/7 and were staring down the barrel of defeat. In came Shane Warne and he took a particular liking for Giles and struck him for 2 sixes in an over. England got the extra half hour of play through, to try and get the remaining 3 Aussie wickets. But Warne and Clarke at the other end, hung on, bravely through some great fast bowling from Flintoff and Harmison. That was until, the very last over of the day. Harmison had rattled Clarke with some short pitched stuff in the over and had him on the back foot. And then, he bowled a delivery at 65kph, just after he had a hurled one at 90kph at Clarke. A slower ball.. Clarke had no clue to it and completely missed it and was bowled. End of day 3, Australia, 175/8, still 107 short of the target, with all the main batsman in the pavilion.

Day 4, Sunday, packed crowd. Everyone expected a cakewalk for England. It was just a mere formality to get the last 2 wickets, what with Flintoff and Harmison in supreme form. But, as the cliche' goes, cricket is a funny game. Funny it was ! Brett Lee and Warne, put on 45 runs for the 9th wicket and brought some hopes for an unlikley Aussie victory. One just felt the England bowlers tried a bit too hard. Bowling at the tailender's body, banging in short, at searing pace. Though Warne and Lee took a lot of blows on their body, the wickets were not falling. Byes, legbyes, edges, flew to all parts of the ground, as England got really frustrated. That was until Flintoff got Warne to trod on his stumps , having bowled a short pitched delivery. Finally it seemed victory was near.

In came Kasprowicz, who Flintoff had dismissed for a duck first ball in the first innings. But he too stuck around. Brett Lee taking a lot of blows on himself, but fighting on, to give Australia an unlikely win. It was dramatic. Runs came at a fair clip on Day 4 too, what with edges finding the boundaries . 15 runs to win, it was. England was tense. Will it happen to them again ? Not again, the English hoped. It was a dramatic partnership for the last wicket. And then, Kasprowicz guided a short pitched ball in the air from Harmison down to 3rd man. Simon Jones came running in for the catch, but dropped it. More tension, more drama. Kasprowicz and Lee kept on getting runs, singles, doubles and brought it down to 3 runs to win. England spectators at the ground were in disbelief. SO was I. How could it have even happened. I was praying for England, for they had played so well and deserved to win this match. But, Aussies will always be Aussies. Never say die, and that was precisely on display on the day.

Nasser Hussain was on air, and said, that there are 3 possibilities .. a) dropped catch b) run out c) a wrong umpiring decision. One of his predictions had already come true, the dropped catch. Would any of the other too happen too ? With 3 runs to win, all seemed lost for England. Harmison, bowled yet another short pitched ball at Kasprowicz, who couldn't duck under the ball properly and it took the glove and Geraint Jones behind the stumps took a beautiful catch, diving forward to deny Australia an unexpected win. England players were elated, Geraint Jones was carried along by his teammates for a wonderful catch, which got England the 4th ever closest win in test matches.And again the runs per over on the for Australia in the second innings was 4.33 per over !! Flintoff was the deserving man of the match with his heroics with the bat and his hostile spell of fast bowling, taking the Aussies by surprise.

There have been 2 tied test matches, one victory by a run and then this one ! What a match. Exhilirating. There was an ODI happening between India and West Indies at the same time. But I was in no mood to watch that !! Who said Test matches have lost their charm ? England are now giving the same medicine back to the Aussies, with extreme pace and bounce. Flintoff almost single handedly pulled of the victory for England. The only saving grace for Australia was the 10 wicket haul by Shane Warne. But McGrath's absence was sorely felt. With bith McGrath and Warne over 35 years of age and not much cricket left, Australia have to get some replacements. Or else their invinciblity will vanish and become all but invisible !

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F e r r a r i said...

The best test match I have ever seen
And double bonanza for soccer fans. Since the match got over soon, they telecasted the community shield between Chelsea and Arsenal :-D