Shamik Das

Sunday, November 21, 2010

India’s bowlers share the spoils as Kiwis crawl in series decider


Nagpur, third Test, day 1: New Zealand 148/7 (Ryder 59) v India

INDIA'S bowlers shared around the wickets as New Zealand struggled to make progress on the opening day of the final Test of a batsman-dominated series.

Only Jesse Ryder managed to pass 50, with five of the top seven falling for single figures as the Black Caps crawled along at 2.6 an over, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ohja and Harbhajan Singh all tying the batsmen up and all except Harbajhan bagging two wickets apiece.

Not too much to write home about then, save for Sreesanth’s screamer to dismiss Tim McIntosh, sending the opener’s off stump cartwheeling out of the ground, as seen above (supersize it here) and as described in vivid colour by the Cricinfo boys thus:

“McIntosh is castled, he has a befuddled look after being bowled, seam is upright as Sreesanth fires the ball in, pitched off and middle, close to the off stump, enough movement to take the ball between McIntosh's bat and pad and onto off stump, Sreesanth gets his second, the openers are gone, that was a beauty from Sreesanth.”

That and the news from Guangzhou of India’s 3-2 win over Pakistan in the Asian Games hockey to reach the semi-finals. Not as electrifying, perhaps, as the 7-4 win over Pakistan at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last month, but a win over Pakistan is a win over Pakistan!


Back to the action on the pitch then, and there’s all to play for, a result the most likely possibility after a first day in which ball dominated bat. What chance, then, of Harbhajan scoring another century, following scarecly believable scores of 69 and 115 in Ahmedabad and quite incredible 111 not out in Hyderabad (see above).

Those knocks followed a sequence of nine single figure scores in his previous 11 innings; indeed, his 295 runs in this series, at an average of 147.5, eclipse the sum total of his previous 19 innings, going back two years. In all, he now has the aforementioned centuries, eight other scores over 50 and a further 19 scores above his average (18.6) with 94 innings of 18 or less.

The full picture of Harbhajan’s 123 Test innings to date can be seen below:


Not a bad achievement for a man who spent his first 11 innings at number 11, his back-to-back centuries reminiscent of Anil Kumble’s majestic ton at the Oval three years ago to set up a famous series win.

By Wednesday we’ll know whether his successor as senior spinner has helped set up a similar result.

Cricinfo: Live text commentary of day 2 from 0400hrs GMT


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