Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pakistan vs. India 3rd Test Day 5

Hello and welcome to Rs. 5’s coverage of the fifth day of the third test between India and Pakistan. We join the action 30 minutes late because I had to run a couple of errands this morning. India have moved on to 148-2 and have pushed their lead to 237. Why they are still batting is completely beyond me. Don’t they want to win 2-0? Don’t they want to give themselves as much time as possible to get this done?

As always, all times are local (i.e. Pakistan time).

9:33 a.m. This pitch is behaving very badly. Some are taking off, and others are staying really low. The one positive for Pakistan seems to be that the pitch is more inconsistent when the quick bowlers are on, and India’s attack on this fifth day will be spin-centric.

9:41 a.m. Shoaib bowling a lot of short-pitched stuff to Ganguly here. One hits him on his ribs/side and flies to the boundary. That’s going to hurt tomorrow.

9:47 a.m. Dani is offering complete rubbish to Ganguly. What’s happened to him? Does he need a rest? (Well, he doesn’t play ODIs or 20/20s). Has he just become crap? (Possible). Have batsmen the world over figured him out? (Probable).

9:53 a.m. Shoaib looks T-I-R-E-D. I know he bowls quick and all, but is that unreasonable to expect your “ace” to get through a six over spell without flagging?

9.58 a.m. Zeyd must be rejoicing. Sami is on. I miss Gully and Asif.

9.59 a.m. I see that Dravid has quietly moved on to 41. He really needs a score here to get him in groove for Australia. That is the only reason that I can think of for India still batting.

10:02 a.m. Supersport runs a promotion/ad/congratulatory message for Dale Steyn being the second South African ever to get 10-wicket hauls in two consecutive tests. Did I mention I miss Gully and Asif?

10:12 a.m. Wow. That has to be the most anticlimactic wicket ever. Dani bowls a googly from around the wicket. Dravid plays for the turn, gets hit on the pad, and Dani and Akmal go up in the most muted appeal (well, as muted as Dani and Akmal can get) you’ll ever see. Taufel raises the finger and Dravid’s gone. Even though that was definitely out, I didn’t really expect Taufel to give it. Clearly, neither did Dravid.

10:16 a.m. Wow. Sami got a wicket. Sami got a wicket. Pretty nothing delivery and Ganguly slashed it straight to a fourth slip/fine gully. So Ganguly doesn’t get his second hundred of the game and Sami (Sami!) gets a wicket. India’s lead, by the way, is up to 267.

10:18 a.m. Birthday boy Yuvraj comes out to a roaring ovation.

10:23 a.m. Bruce Yardley: “Shoaib Akhtar is back on the field. Spends a lot of time off the field, does Shoaib Akhtar.” Yes. Yes, he does.

10:32 a.m. Sami gets another! Yuvraj isn’t happy. Plays (and misses) outside off and Rudi gives it. Yuvraj’s reaction was hilarious. He just stood there in shock and stared at the umpire and started giggling. Snicko, for whatever it’s worth, shows he hit it.

10:40 a.m. Consecutive boundaries for Laxman. Now that’s the Sami we know and love. Over pitched on leg stump followed by short and wide outside off.

10:42 a.m. The camera pans to the Indian dressing room where the entire team is eating popcorn. Rameez tries to say something intelligent about intermissions and the drama being put on hold, trying to make a connection to a declaration, but fails miserably.

10:44 a.m. Kartik smashes a Kaneria waist-high full toss for six before hitting him for four through midwicket. India go past 200 and their lead goes past 290. Declare already, goddamnitt.

10:45 a.m. Another four for Kartik off Dani. Maybe a declaration is imminent with Kartik being this aggressive. Or maybe Dani’s just a crap bowler for whom being carted around is a natural state of being. Who can say?

10:52 a.m. Kartik sweeps Dani for four. India’s lead is past 300. Eight minutes to go to lunch, which is when I guess Kumble will declare.

11:00 a.m. Dani bowling the last over before lunch. If India declare – which they should – this will be Dani’s last over in India for a while. You think he’s happy about that prospect?

11:01 a.m. And that’s lunch. India are 310 ahead. See you guys in 40.

11:40 a.m. WHAT?! India didn’t declare!! India didn’t declare! Wow. Unbelievable. Wow. I…seriously…I don’t even know what to say. Wow. I need time to recover from this. Let’s just move on, shall we?

11:45 a.m. Ouch. Shoaib hits Laxman smack on the elbow. Laxman is not wearing an arm guard. He’s in real pain here. Who knows, the Yuvraj/Dravid opening conundrum may just have solved itself.

11:48 a.m. One thing’s for sure. Pakistan are going to let Laxman take all the time he needs.

11:49 a.m. Laxman’s walking off. You think a couple of guys by the names of Ponting and Lee might be smiling as they see that image?

11:53 a.m. Through sightscreen delays, injuries, and an inordinately long run-up, Shoaib’s first over after lunch took 13 minutes.

11:57 a.m. A number of the guys in the commentary crew have picked their 11s for the Melbourne test. Shiva’s is shown first. He wants (a) Sachin opening, (b) Dravid at three, (c) two spinners, and (d) Pathan as the second seam bowler, and one of four bowlers. That’s a long batting lineup – and I don’t necessarily think Sachin opening is a terrible idea – but Zaheer, Pathan, Harbhajan and Kumble aren’t going to get 20 Australian wickets in Melbourne. If you want to play 2 spinners, fine, but play Sharma or Munaf Patel instead of Pathan. You get Dhoni at seven and Kumble at eight, and with that top 6, you don’t mind the short tail.

11:59 a.m. Aamir Sohail has almost the exact team I just laid out. The only difference is he substitutes Sharma for Harbhajan instead of Sharma for Pathan as I do. He also has Dravid opening, as I do.

12:01 p.m. India’s lead, meanwhile, has stretched to 325. I can’t believe they don’t want to win this thing 2-0.

12:09 p.m. The only reason I can even remotely think of for India still batting is to judge Kartik’s form before the team to Australia is selected. Incredibly daft if it’s true, but what else could it be?

12:12 p.m. Bruce Yardley is as bemused as I am. “What’s the purpose of all this, Bish?” “All this,” of course, being India’s batting well after lunch.

12:14 p.m. Yousuf drops an absolute sitter to let Pathan survive. Dani’s pissed. My God, that was shameful.

12:16 p.m. Bishop and Yardley are shocked by the dropped catch, and take the opportunity to talk about the fielding standards of both teams in general. Neither is particularly enthusiastic about either India or Pakistan. Yardley says, “Some guys in the field are naturals. Yuvraj Singh is a natural.” The camera pans to Dani. “A guy like Kaneria, though, is not as…[pause]… coordinated.”

12:39 p.m. Yardley pronounces, “For the sake of the crowd, I think India need to declare RIGHT NOW.” You can’t argue with that, though you can still make fun of Bruce Yardley.

12:46 p.m. Arafat gets Karthik caught behind after drinks and, lo and behold, India have declared. Pakistan need 374 to win in 48 overs. What if Yousuf carves a 213 not out off 135 balls to take us home? What if?

12:58 p.m. Rameez, enlightening us all: “I don’t think Pakistan will target eight an over on this pitch. So I think India have batted Pakistan out of the game.”

1:00 p.m. Pathan beats Butt first up with a ball that swings out before seaming in. Hmm.

1:03 p.m. They’re showing the cracks on the pitch. They’re wide enough for Bruce Yardley’s finger to go through, on the evidence of the pitch report this morning. They’ve obviously only widened since then with the sun beating down on them. Have I mentioned this is a terrible pitch?

1:13 p.m. While Arun Lal and Ramiz yap away about their India squads, Yasir Hameed is flailing his bat around when he really shouldn’t. It’s not like he’s actually connecting…why not just play it safe?

1:15 p.m. Arun Lal just compared Bad Haircut to Mohammad Asif. I don’t even know what to say. You see, Indians, this is why we can’t stand you. It’s not Kashmir. It’s your endless hype of anyone who’s enjoyed even a modicum of success. He took 5 wickets and now you’re calling him a “Mohammad Asif type bowler”? Please shut up.

1:18 p.m. A good length Pathan delivery outside off bites the pitch and jumps viciously at Butt, who is startled. Pathan smiles and mockingly rubs his biceps.

1:20 p.m. It’s nice to see Butt look really solid. He looks like he’s tightened up his game and doesn’t look to be too bothered with not having gotten off the mark yet. That’s a good sign.

1:24 p.m. Butt gets off the mark off the 21st delivery he faces. Edges Kumble and it just eludes Dravid at slip.

1:28 p.m. Yasir Hameed flashes Pathan hard to gully and is dropped twice. Once by Kumble and then once by Dinesh Karthik on the rebound. I told him to stop flashing. Idiot.

1:34 p.m. Butt is clearly not in the mood to score a run today. Which is completely fine with me. I really want to see one of our young openers make a 30-off-145 type innings. I want to see if they can.

1:35 p.m. Clearly Hameed can’t. As soon as I finished typing that last sentence, Hameed doesn’t control a hook off a bouncer from Pathan. Could have gone anywhere really; just so happened to go to long leg for four.

1:36 p.m. And one more. Another attempted pull off Pathan, this one takes a bottom edge that just misses the stumps and goes to fine leg for four. As Aamir Sohail says, he’s just trying to get some runs before he’s exposed by Anil Kumble.

1:37 p.m. That’s a little more convincing. Back foot drive through the covers. Four more.

1:41 p.m. They show a cute woman sitting next to Aamir Sohail’s wife. Aamir tells us its Vengsarkar’s daughter. I don’t know how I quite feel about that.

1:43 p.m. Butt barely survives a couple of balls from Bad Haircut that stayed low. And that’s tea. Be back in 20.

2:09 p.m. And we’re back. We join the action nine minutes late because I had to meet someone. Anyway, in breaking news, Yasir Hameed is looking completely lost against Kumble.

2:10 p.m. Except for the whole “two convincing boundaries in two balls” thing.

2:15 p.m. After hitting Kumble through midwicket for four, Kumble beats Yasir Hameed with a really quick leg break, almost a leg cutter. The off stump is knocked back, and Yasir’s brilliant showing against the Indian spinners has mercifully drawn to a close. In comes what is becoming my second favorite Pakistani cricketer, Younis Khan.

2:19 p.m. Gone. Younis knocks a straight quick one right back into Kumble’s lap. Suddenly those 35-odd overs left in the day seem to be a long, long time.

2:20 p.m. Out comes Faisal Iqbal. I have absolutely no idea why they’ve done this.

2:24 p.m. Kumble and Harbhajan really mixing it up with some quicker stuff, almost like they’re bowling slow-medium cutters. It might not be a bad ploy on this pitch where the slower it is, the more time the batsmen have to adjust to variable bounce.

2:31 p.m. I think we settle into a long afternoon of Kumble and Harbhajan.

2:35 p.m. Five guys round Faisal Iqbal’s bat as he faces Harbhajan. Nice going Kumble, but if you wanted to be aggressive, shouldn’t you have declared when you got a lead of 250?

2:46 p.m. Butt gone, caught behind off Kumble. Are we actually going to lose after being asked to survive less than 50 overs? Are you kidding me?

2:47 p.m. I’m being beckoned for lunch. Hope nothing untoward happens in the next 20 minutes.

3:07 p.m. And we’re back. Pakistan have moved on to 104-3. Phew.

3:12 p.m. Everyone’s laughing as a quick one from Kumble hits a crack and turns it a mile, defeating Karthik by a solid 12 inches. Kumble is now essentially bowling cutters at medium pace. The slips have moved back to where they would be for a guy like Ponting bowling his little dobbly medium pacers. Just a terrible, terrible surface.

3:18 p.m. Faisal Iqbal hits Harbhajan straight down the ground for a couple of boundaries. Given his prowess against spin, Faisal could develop into a really good player if he could sort out his problems against pace. To be fair, that’s a little like saying that given her hotness, Lindsay Lohan would be a great life partner if she was slightly more intelligent. The Faisal-Misbah partnership has put on 60-odd at more than a run a ball, for whatever it’s worth.

3:22 p.m. Faisal gets his fifty with a straight drive for three off Kumble. Well played, bhanja. I know for a fact this score is going to infuriate the Pak Passion crowd.

3:30 p.m. Kumble gets two in two balls. Faisal plays an atrocious shot to hole out to mid-on and then Akmal is bowled exactly like Hameed was. 16 overs to go.

3:35 p.m. Yuvraj bowls Misbah through the gate. Oh dear.

3:42 p.m. I’m going to be very upset if we lose.

3:43 p.m. Yuvraj gets Arafat with one that stays low. 13.4 overs to go and 3 wickets to get. They might win this with plenty of overs to spare, India.

3:44 p.m. Umpires checking the light meter. Oh Lord, please send some rain, or at least dark clouds. Please.

3:45 p.m. No rain, but Sami is here.

3:46 p.m. Just confirmation of the collapse: 4 wickets for 10 runs in 16 deliveries.

3:47 p.m. Come on, Yousuf. Play an Inzi innings here. Come on. 12.4 overs to go.

3:49 p.m. All nine fielders are within 10 yards of Yousuf. Rudy looks at his light meter. Come on, darkness. Come on!

3:51 p.m. Umpires conferring. Offer the light. Come on!

3:52 p.m. They’ve offered the light! Hallelujah! They’ve offered the light!

3:52 p.m. If this ends in a draw, Kumble has only himself to blame. Why they batted well past lunch is completely beyond me. They should have declared about 45 minutes after the start of play today. They always had enough runs – no way Pakistan was going to chase even 230 on this pitch.

3:58 p.m. Complete chaos here. So the artificial lights were turned on for some reason, despite the lack of an agreement between the captains prior to the series. So the lights need to be turned off for the umpires to gauge whether the natural light has improved. But for some reason, they can’t get one set of lights off.

4:03 p.m. Kudos to the scoreboard people at Bangalore for putting some information up for the crowd. The spectators at the ground are almost always not told what’s going on, despite being the people who most need to know.

4:06 p.m. Arun Lal: “The sun is going down on the horizon.” Heh. Hope the horizon enjoys it.

4:08 p.m. So the light is getting worse, not better, which makes more play unlikely. This game is now a draw, which means India have beaten Pakistan 1-0 in this 3-test series. The result is a thoroughly fair one – India have far and away been the better team in the series. They’ve simply batted, bowled, and fielded better than Pakistan. They now go to Australia, where their biggest challenge will be to get 20 Australian wickets on a regular basis, and relatively cheaply at that. I don’t think their batting will be a problem – everyone is awesome form and Australia’s bowling is not what it used to be. But they’ll have to bowl out of their skins to get something out of that series. Australia’s batting is one of the most intimidating lineups ever. I think they’ll challenge Australia to a greater extent than most people think but I think their fielding and inconsistent quick bowling will let them down. Ask England what poor fielding and hot-and-cold bowling can result in when in Australia.

For Pakistan, Butt and Misbah have been the positives. But make no mistake, Pakistan is not a particularly good team. Our batting had a fairly solid look about it for most of the series but the fielding and bowling was quite terrible to be honest. What happened to those days in the 90s when injuries to Wasim and Waqar were actually guilty pleasures for Pakistani fans because it would give us the opportunity to see the next 90 mph bowler slicing through sides? Our quick bowling resources are shambolically bare. Our catching and ground fielding is the same as ever. And our leadership situation is uncertain, with Malik impressing no one on the field and Younis impressing no one off it. Right now, the only sides against which Pakistan start as favorites are Bangladesh away and New Zealand, West Indies and Bangladesh at home. This hurts to admit but it’s the truth: we’re just not very good. We need to find an opener to partner Butt, we need a real number six (I say Akmal), we need a real keeper (I say anyone but Akmal), we need a real astute and strong captain, we need to discover a solid second tier of quick bowlers so we don’t go from Gully and Asif to Sami and Arafat, and we need to improve our fielding. That’s six major to-do items. We do four of those, and we can challenge everyone but Australia. We don’t, and we keep languishing in mediocrity like we are.


Asad said...

"4:06 p.m. Arun Lal: “The sun is going down on the horizon.” Heh. Hope the horizon enjoys it."
Seriously? I bet you patted yourself on the back after that one.

NB said...

haha dude. I just read this. I know its a little late, but throughly enjoyable it was. Yoda I am.