Australia hits a wall at the WACA

Cricketing History has been made!

It was incredible to watch Ishant Sharma nail Ricky Ponting and push the Aussies on the back foot. He is only 19 years old! The Indians played methodically and kept the pressure on the Australians in the morning as well as through the afternoon session.

Here is the famous conversation between Kumble and Sehwag over persisting Ishant against Ponting. Ishant had already bowled 10 and Kumble was about to pull him out of the attack.

Meri baat maano… Ponting strike par hai aur ladka (Ishant) rhythm mein hai (Ponting is on strike and the boy is in rhythm)“.

Kumble then asked Ishant, “Ek aur karega? (Would you bowl one more?).

Ishant replied, “Haan Karoonga (Yes I will)” and went on to get Ponting caught behind off the very first ball of his 11th over.

This game was not without its fair share of controversy. Billy Bowden awarded Kumble a LBW decision with Symonds ranting that the ball knicked the bat before it went on to the pad. Symonds’ claim was not without merit. As Gavaskar later pointed out, Symonds could not blame the umpiring on that occasion as he had chosen a “silent” bat which made knicks extremely hard to pick up by the umpire.

Kumble appeals

Adam Gilchrist and Michael Clarke were looking to make a dash for the target. It took some cunning finger spin from Sehwag to bowl Gilchrist from around his legs in his introductory over. Sunny Gavaskar immediately exclaimed that bringing Sehwag on was an inspired bowling change by Kumble who had earlier watched Symonds extract some turn off the pitch. The relief was understandable, since Gilchrist was starting to look like as if he might be the perfect foil for Clarke.

Soon after Stuart Clarke and Mitchell Johnson put on a gritty stand for the 8th wicket. For the first time in the day I thought the Indians looked a tad worried about losing their grip. Johnson initially pummeled the Indian bowling attack, including Kumble all over the onside. Stuart Clarke then took up the lead allow Johnson to settle in. Their well orchestrated attack was the first serious threat to India’s 413. Even Jumbo’s (Kumble) field placing was questioned as he decided to place his fielders at the boundary line rather than 15 odd meters inside. This kept the fielders out of reach of the odd mis-hit from Stuart Clarke.

Stuart Clarke finally fell to Irfan Pathan with the new ball and later Tait caved in to allow India to savor victory. As Ravi Shastri pointed out later in the day, the Australian’s had failed to tackle the swing attack of R.P. Singh, Ishant Sharma, and Irfan Pathan.

A number of records and oddities were set. This is the first time a team from the sub-continent has beaten Australia at the WACA. This loss also ended Australia’s 16 straight wins in Test Cricket. The last team to beat Australia at Test Cricket was again India, in Adelaide 2003. The highest individual score was Rahul Dravid’s 93.

I was a little surprised with Sunny Gavaskar’s rabid support for India in this game. Perhaps the battering the Indians took at Sydney has fired him up.

Test cricket is a lot closer to real life when you consider the perseverance and focus required of players to execute the task at hand.

Neeraj writes:

Laxman’s innings was very important in the sense that it shut the door on Australia. But for his innings, India could well have been skittled for less than 300. Moreover, the irony was not lost that it was Laxman who stopped Australia’s roll in 2001 in Calcutta. And of course, I guess I get a bit affected when I see craze for bing bang players like Dhonis and Yuvrajs. It takes a bit more to appreciate some one like Laxman and Dravid’s who seem to be modest in the way they carry themselves despite the way they have served Indian cricket.