Hello and welcome to Rs. 5’s coverage of day 4 of the third test between
Wow, it’s been a while since I got to watch live cricket on a TV and not a tiny laptop screen. And who better to welcome me back than Arun Lal and Rameez Raja? By the way, the field for Irfan Pathan, according to Arun Lal, has a 7-2 “bias” for the off-side. Anyway,
This Sharma chap really needs a haircut. He looks like a casting mistake from a bad 80s movie.
Pathan jags one back to Misbah and hits him on the hand. I know I’ve made my fair share of jokes at Pathan’s expense, but if I’m an Indian fan, it’s nice to see him swinging it that far at this point in the game. One thing the failings of this
Change in the commentary team! Praise the Lord. Bishop and Shiva in.
Misbah guides Bad Haircut through gully for four. Lots of boundaries in the last fifteen minutes or so. It’s also (pleasantly) hilarious to hear Bish tell us that “you can’t give width to players as good as Misbah”. Did anyone ever think that we’d hear the phrase “players as good as Misbah”?
Pathan goes past Akmal’s edge twice in a row. Pathan’s bowling well here. I think there is something to be said about the power of ridicule propelling players to greater heights. Exhibit A: Pathan. Exhibit B: Ganguly and his buckets of runs. What I’m trying to say is: you’re welcome,
Akmal plays a delightful late cut to Harbajhan. Gets just two but that was a great shot. Against the turn, fourth day pitch, with a short third in place. It’s clear to anyone who knows cricket that this guy has oodles of talent with the bat. It’s also clear that he’s completely forgotten how to keep. I think we should try and Sangakarra him (i.e. make him give up his gloves, at least in test cricket, and see just how good he could be while exclusively a batsman). I honestly think he could average 45 as a number six. Now close your eyes and answer the following question: who would you rather have while chasing a score/staving off defeat/setting a target: Akmal or Shoaib Malik? That’s what I thought.
Another boundary, this time an Akmal paddle off Harbajhan. Score’s up to 417 in quick time.
Really interesting passage of play here. Kumble on, and he always looks threatening. Aamir Sohail commentating, and he always sounds borderline insane. Akmal looks kind of flaky; Misbah looks as solid as a rock. Which, of course, means that Misbah will be the next wicket to fall.
Misbah plays a gorgeous on drive off Kumble for four. That was beautiful, it really was. I don’t believe our jackass selectors have been messing around with the Faisal Iqbals and Hasan Razas of the world while this guy was toiling away in our domestic cricket. What a travesty.
I predict Arafat won’t survive to lunch. Let’s see.
The phone rings and complete bedlam ensues in my house. I don’t even know where to start so I won’t bother.
Consecutive boundaries for Arafat, the first (a cut through backward point) infinitely more convincing than the second (an edge just past Laxman’s outstretched hand).
Harbajhan and Kartik go up for a catch behind off Misbah. I can promise you that he did Mis-that-bah a mile. Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.
Arafat late cuts Kumble twice in two balls. 8 more, and we’re up to 465. You know, it may not be the most difficult pitch in the world (it’s definitely not the easiest though), but we’ve batted really well here. I mean for three tests we’ve been playing catch up and almost always, our batsmen have responded, even when chasing mammoth totals. I’m not saying our batting has a settled look to it or anything, but it bears mentioning that many Pakistani teams in the past would have folded when chasing 500, 600 odd like we have been in this series, even if the pitches weren’t difficult.
Three Yuvraj deliveries to go before lunch and Misbah on 98. Will he get there? He gets a single to third man. Come on, Arafat, tap it and run.
11: Arafat taps it and runs. Field comes in.
11: Misbah will go into lunch on 99. Rameez calls Arafat “a gallant partner for Misbah-ul-Haq”. Gallant?
Alright, see you guys in 40.
Sorry for the 30 minute delay. My cable was out. Fucking World Call. Anyway, we’re up to 508-6, with Misbah well past his hundred (122) and Arafat giving able support. Bad Haircut into the attack.
Shiva and Aamir Sohail are having fun playing with the interactive arrow thing to show where
Bad Haircut sort of reminds me of Sajid Mahmood. His build, action, and stock delivery (short of a length, coming in) are quite similar to Jayasuriya’s favorite bowler. He’s not as quick as Saj though, at least on the evidence of two hours of play, but that will change as he builds into his body. Looks a decent prospect for my mind.
Terrible ball by Kumble. Half way down the pitch on leg stump. Arafat helps himself to four through midwicket. Score’s up to 512.
Cable’s out again. Un-fucking-believable. Apparently it’s been acting up for a few weeks now.
12:36 p.m. Cable’s back, and Arafat pushes Pathan through midwicket for four. Zeyd texts: “What a shot by arafat”. Um, Zeyd, shouldn’t you be, you know, working at work? Anyway, we’re up to 524-6.
Zeyd texts: “Watch how sami is preferred the next time we play”. He’s another one we should Sangakarra. Let’s make him a stodgy opening batsman to partner Butt. Clearly this whole “fast bowling” thing isn’t working for him.
Zionists all over the world rejoice as Arafat is gone. Played on to Bad Haircut. Solid contribution.
Supersport runs an ad for its clothing supplier Woolworths. Uh, thanks guys, but the day I start dressing like the Supersport guys is the day my fiancée suddenly discovers that she’s not allowed to marry a non-Shia.
Rameez and Arun Lal are back, regaling us with…God, I don’t know, I’m not really listening. I did just hear Rameez say that “manufacturing, or making, a pitch is an art.” Evidently, so is manufacturing a sentence.
Bad Haircut gets Sami with a low full toss. I think Sami lost that one in the crowd because he reacted like he thought it was a beamer or something. He clearly didn’t spot that one. Bollywood Shoaib in.
1: Misbah is dancing around in the crease, trying to manipulate the strike. Rameez tells Shoaib to watch out for the quicker one. Shoaib inside edges to vacant square leg and takes a single off the last ball of the over, thus rendering Misbah’s strike manipulation completely redundant.
Shoaib lobs a dolly to short leg off one that stayed really low. Bad Haircut has three wickets in less than half an hour here. Nine down and in comes Dani and his 9.62 average.
1: Kaneria smashes, just smashes his first ball through mid-off for four. He follows that with another slog that gets an under edge to Kartik. Even Rameez is laughing. Zeyd texts: “Damn it. We need at least 30 more”. I reply: “Let’s see. Dani might get us there in 5 balls”.
Misbah shimmies down and carves Kumble over midwicket for four. He’s up to 133.
Bad Haircut gets Dani with a short one that he had no idea about, and ends up with 5 for the innings, throwing his hat in the Zaheer/Sreesanth/R.P Singh/Munaf Patel ring for the Australian tour. Misbah remains unbeaten, and the umpires decide to take tea.
Gambhir and Jaffer walk out with a lead of 89 behind them.
Shoaib to open the bowling with 3 slips, a gully and a short leg.
Alright, here we go. Can
Shoaib’s first ball flies through to Akmal, without him putting in any effort whatsoever. This pitch is terrible.
Shoaib beats Jaffer’s outside edge. The best thing about having Faisal Iqbal in the team is his endless supplies of “oye, hoye, hoye!” and “aye, yaaaaaar!”
Another one flies through, as Akmal takes it two feet above his head.
Gambhir’s not lasting here. I give him till .
Shoaib is making some indecipherable gestures toward the dressing room. I can only presume that he’s unfit. Heroic assumption, yes?
My lunch is here while the physio comes out for Shoaib. Unless something important happens, no updates for the next 20 minutes.
Turns out Shoaib isn’t unfit. He just wants a stuffed animal (from the looks of it, it’s a leopard) from the dressing room. I swear to you I’m not kidding. Bruce Yardley and Aamir Sohail are trying to make sense of this. Don’t bother, guys. Seriously, don’t bother.
2: Rameez and Shiva are passing one lame comment after another. Shoaib and Sami haven’t looked particularly threatening. Jaffer and Gambhir have looked solid. And I’m about to poke my own eyes out.
2: Sami sprays down leg, four. Now think about how many times the words “Sami sprays down leg, four” have been said and written in the last five years. Anyway,
2: Man, I miss Gully and Asif.
GONE! Shoaib follows two 150 km/h balls with a slower one from around the wicket, and Gambhir is done. My prediction was off by a mere five minutes. Man, I’m good.
The Wall is hopping. The Wall, by the way, has to open in
I feel really bad for Bishop, being stuck with these jokers. From Rameez to Arun Lal to Shiva to
Zeyd texts: “Why is sami bowling? Please give yousuf the ball”. I think it’s safe to say our good friend Zeyd has reached the end of his Sami rope. I also think it’s safe to say Zeyd is being overpaid for whatever work he’s supposed to be doing.
Shoaib is clearly tiring here. You can see it written it in the pained expression on his face as he’s running in. Great over to Dravid though. Had him jumping, poking and fending.
The cameras show Venkatesh Prasad talking to Bad Haircut. I wonder if Venky and Aamir Sohail ever sit down and have a nice long chat about life.
Sania Mirza sighting. The chick in front of her is considerably cuter.
Arafat replaces Shoaib. Wicket to wicket stuff so far, which should be pretty effective given how ridiculously low the ball is staying.
GONE! Arafat gets Jaffer with one that stays low and traps him plumb in front.
Dravid drives Arafat through the covers for four. Easy as you like, and
Ganguly top-edges a pull off Sami for four. Poor Sami.
3: Shoaib back into the attack, and Ganguly welcomes him with a Lara-drive through the covers. That got to the boundary in less than a second.
Another one, this one off the back foot and through gully. If you’re going to bowl across Ganguly, you better swing or seam it – otherwise, he’s going to cream you all day.
3: Shoaib decides to come around the wicket. Way down the leg-side and Akmal makes a great diving save on the bounce.
3: Ganguly drives Arafat gloriously through point for four. He’s going at more than a run a ball. When he’s on, he’s on.
Four more, followed by one that goes underneath Ganguly’s bat and missed the off-stump by the proverbial coat of varnish. Of course, he smashes the next one behind point for four, and
The more time I spend thinking about it, the more astounding Ganguly’s return gets. About 30 months ago, he was being embarrassed by Afridi and Kaneria and struggled to grind out meaningless centuries against Zimbabwe. He had a coach who didn’t like him, a vicious media, an unforgiving opposition, and no guarantee of a return to the Indian team ever again. Now he looks primed and ready for anything
Dani into the attack. Ganguly is really going to go after him. You can that to the bank.
As the camera pans to Sania Mirza again, Arun Lal informs us: “That’s a pretty face.”
Dani is such a jackass. So he beats Ganguly with one that stays low and goes straight. Ganguly sort of loses his balance, trying to cut it, and backpedals away from the crease. Dani takes the opportunity to sledge Ganguly, saying something to the effect of (my lip-reading is kind of weak) “haan, bhaag” [yeah, run]. Next ball, Ganguly takes two steps down the track and effortlessly deposits Dani straight over the sightscreen.
My mum yells from downstairs: “Are you back to just watch cricket?” It’s a legitimate question.
Right, so Arun Lal and Aamir Sohail have brought it up, so I’ll deal with it now, especially as there’s kind of a lull in play.
Open with Dravid.
Look, if you open with either Kartik or Gambhir, Dravid’s going to be the de facto opener anyway, because neither of those two is lasting more than seven overs of the new ball. Dravid has the technique to open. He has the mental strength to open. He certainly has the willingness to open, because he’s the ultimate team player. And if he opens, you move
Jaffer (in form)
Dravid (brilliant player)
Tendulkar (brilliant player)
Ganguly (in form)
Yuvraj (in form, big balls)
Dhoni (huge balls)
Just look at that lineup. How do you not play that lineup? Seriously. If
4: Ganguly brings up his 50 with a glide to third man off Sami. Dravid taps his shoulder and shakes his hand. I shake my head: Ganguly? I still can’t believe he’s back scoring runs.
4: Bruce Yardley and Shiva discuss the Dravid opening/Yuvraj point. As Shiva says, it helps that Kumble, a senior player who has the respect of a guy like Dravid, is captain. Shiva also doesn’t mind Sachin opening with Dravid at three. I wouldn’t want that, because Sachin’s never been an opener or a one-down batsman and Dravid has. Plus it takes a certain type of temperament to open against
The day ends up with both Dravid and Ganguly glancing Shoaib to fine-leg for four.