Category: Test Matches

India v Australia, 2nd test, Bengaluru: India stay alive (and kicking!)

It was tea on the third day of the second test match of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2017. One nil down in the series and having conceded a lead of 87 in the first innings, India was ahead by just 33 runs with six wickets in hand. India’s experiment with Jadeja had failed in the last over before the break and Ajinkya Rahane would join the dogged Cheteshwara Pujara for the final session of day three. India were alive in the series, but only just.

That’s when we decided to send out a tweet asking the world at large whether Pujara and Rahane could channel their inner Dravid and Laxman. You see, when it’s India and Australia, with the series one wicket away from escaping India’s grasp, Eden Gardens in 2001 becomes the benchmark for a certain generation of Indian cricket fans.

Almost exactly 16 years later, a similar stage was set. Four wickets had fallen in the second innings of the Eden test when Dravid came in to join Laxman. In 2001, Tendulkar had gone for 10. Here, Virat Kohli fell (a slightly dubious decision, in our opinion) for just 15. Dravid was struggling to lay bat on ball before Eden. Before Bengaluru, so was Rahane. Pujara is a batsman in Dravid’s mould. Rahane is more stylish, VVS like.

Unlike Eden, however, the Bengaluru pitch was not going to hold up for five days. The bounce was unpredictable and the turn was quick and sharp. Lyon had taken eight wickets in the first innings to bundle India out for 189. Jadeja had taken six for India. Surely Australia retaining the Border Gavaskar trophy was a just matter of time.

The first ball after tea kept low and went through Matthew Wade and went for four byes. A sign of things to come? Another third day finish looked on the cards. If there was ever a time to stand up and be counted, this was it.

Like 2001, two unfancied guys took up the challenge. Bit by bit, with their backs firmly up against the wall, first Pujara and then Rahane dragged India back into the match with supple wrists, soft hands and some good luck. The Australians, who had the game (and the series) by the scruff of the neck until then, began to flag. By the end of the third days’ play, Indian fans were believing again. 126 priceless runs ahead with 6 wickets still standing – the 93 run partnership between Pujara and Rahane had changed the complexion of the match. Unbelievably, the momentum had shifted towards India.

The fourth morning brought with it another twist in the tale. Pujara fell in the 90s for the first time in his test career and India’s remaining wickets tumbled to Hazelwood quickly, leaving Australia 187 to chase to retain the Border Gavaskar trophy. It was a tough ask, but not impossible. One good session from Warner could get Australia within sniffing distance.

Renshaw went first to a snorter from Ishant. The dangerous Warner followed soon after lbw post DRS to Ashwin. Marsh was given out lbw and chose not to review after a mix-up with Smith. Steve Smith then decided to look towards the dressing when given out lbw to a “worm burner” from Umesh.

Who knows whether it was deliberate or not. The one thing that #DressingRoomGate surely exemplified the confusion that reigned in Aussie minds at the time. Teams visiting India need a bit of luck, good technique and, perhaps most importantly, clear minds. Smith had cracked under the pressure of the moment. In that moment of panic, Kohli knew that the series had turned decisively in India’s favour.

India proceeded to wrap up the test with Ashwin picking up six to become the fourth bowler in the test to take six wickets or more (after Lyon, Jadeja and Hazlewood). The series was tied 1-1. Bangalore was the site of yet another mini-miracle. 

DressingRoomGate, unfortunately, probably got a bit blown out of proportion thereafter. Smith called it a brain-fade, Kohli made some comments in the post match conference and the boards of both nations got involved. Finally, better sense has prevailed and the BCCI has withdrawn its complaint against Steve Smith and Hanscombe.

As an aside, we rather enjoyed Kohli telling Healy that the pot shouldn’t call the kettle black. In our opinion, Heals should stick to what he is good at (which is NOT being a commentator, for the record). We have offered our services to Mr. Kohli to research his critics further. At the date of writing, we have not heard back.

Where does that leave us for the third test in Ranchi starting on Thursday? Well, for one, Mitch Starc will be out with injury and so will Mitch Marsh. Kohli’s India will be fired up and raring to go. It won’t be an easy ride but we are predicting a 3-1 win to India to win back the Border Gavaskar Trophy and round off this grand season of Indian test cricket. What to you guys think?

The third test match starts at Ranchi on Thursday, 16 March 2017. Remember to subscribe to all our blog updates by clicking here.

 

 

 

India v Australia, 1st test, Pune: India finally come undone

We didn’t preview this India v Australia test series thinking there would be nothing new to say. On the one hand you had Steve Smith’s unfancied Australia, which had lost 0-3 in Sri Lanka six months ago and had been dubbed by Bhajji as the “weakest Australian team to ever visit India” and by Dada as most likely to go down 0-4. On the other side stood Kohli’s mighty Indian test outfit – a captain who had never lost a game in India and a team which was unbeaten in 19 test matches (home and away). The test teams of Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh had all been swept aside at various points in the last two and a half years. Before going into the Pune test against Australia, India hadn’t lost a test match at home since December 2012 – a 20 match unbeaten streak at home.

But these two mighty cricketing nations have a special relationship, based primarily on spoiling each others’ parties. In the greatest moment in Indian test history, the Laxman/Dravid/Bhajji miracle ended Australia’s 16 match winning streak at Kolkata in 2001. Australia then conquered the “Final Frontier” in 2004, bringing India’s unbeaten run at home to end. Again, in 2008, India famously brought another Aussie 16 match winning streak to an end by winning at the WACA in Perth when no one gave them a chance.

So, in case you’ve been working for a living or living under a rock, Australia has won the first test match at Pune by 333 runs within three days, bringing Kohli and India’s streaks to an end. India have been paid back in their own coin. Read More

India v Bangladesh Test: Preview

In the past seven weeks, India has played against England in all 3 formats . Just over 2 weeks from now, India kicks off a 4-Test series with Australia too. Almost exactly 10 weeks from now, the IPL will kick off with an opening ceremony that is no doubt newsworthy, for better or for worse. That will be followed almost immediately by the Champions Trophy in England. PHEW!

Yet here we are, in the middle of a packed season previewing a standalone test between India and Bangladesh to be played in Hyderabad, from Feb 9-13, 2017.

So how did this Test match find a way into the already crazy calendar? Maybe the BCCI realized that India, despite sharing a border with them, remains the only Test playing nation to have not yet hosted Bangladesh in a Test match. All that is set to change on 9 February 2017.

The last time Hyderabad hosted a test in 2013, Pujara scored a double, Vijay scored a century, Ashwin took a 5-for and Jadeja took 3 wickets in each innings. Kohli will back his top XI and will be looking to warm-up for the upcoming  four test series against Steve Smith’s men with a win here.

Ahead of this (historic?) standalone test, here are a few things we at 1 Tip 1 Hand are watching closely: Read More

India V England, 4th Test: Day 2 Highlights At Mumbai

Surprising. Unsurprising. Balanced. Another superb day of test cricket at Mumbai. While India will feel they took honours on Day 2, the test match is delicately poised and could swing in either direction in the next 3 days.

Surprising

Jos Buttler, who has made his name as a limited overs batsman, was brought in after the 2nd test and managed an impressive 43 in Mohali. He continued his form in Mumbai with an excellent 76 to take England to a solid 400, before becoming the last man dismissed. Could Jos be on track to join our list of cricketers whose records may surprise you?

The other surprise today was DRS – early in the day Stokes felt hard done by the third umpire’s decision. Given not out by the on-field umpire, Kohli reviewed for the edge, and the 3rd umpire overturned the decision to send Stokes back to the pavilion. Many thought the sound was Stokes’ bat hitting the ground, but India won’t be complaining.

Watch video – England’s first innings fall of wickets

Unsurprising

Ashwin picked up another 5-wicket haul, his 23rd in just 43 test matches. He equalled the record for most 5-wicket hauls by an Indian, with Kapil Dev who had 23 in 131 tests. An excellent feat, but given his recent form, par for the course as he continues to raise the bar.

Watch video – Ashwin’s 6/112

Pujara too, came in at 39-1 after Rahul was dismissed thanks to some pretty ordinary shot selection against Moeen. He stabilized the innings, adding 47* with Vijay, to give India confidence at the end of Day 2. He has now scored at least a half-century in his last 7 test matches, converting 3 of those to centuries. Another excellent feat, but we’ve come to expect this of Chetu at #3.

Watch video – Monk Vijay and Steady Pujara lead India’s fightback

Balanced

At the end of Day 2, Kohli’s India will be feeling optimistic, with momentum starting to swing to them. They will do well to remember that England were comfortably at 230-2, before losing Ali (50) and Jennings (112) within 2 balls.

Tomorrow will be key.  India trail by 254 with 9 wickets in hand.On a Wankhede pitch that tends to deteriorate exponentially on Days 4 and 5, this means that the match is very much even at the end of Day 2. India will hope to amass a huge first innings lead and only bat once. England will be hoping to bowl India out cheaply and get a first innings lead.

You have to love test match cricket!

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India v England, 4th Test: Day 1 Highlights at Mumbai

Sensational. See-saw. Gripping. What a day of test cricket that was at Mumbai! While India may have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, England let them know today that they will not be going down without a fight.

Sensational

With a doubt, Keaton Jennings was sensational. Dropped by Nair on 0 at gully (a difficult chance), the 24 year old made the Indians pay with a hundred. While he was the 19th England batsman to score a hundred on debut, we are pretty sure he is the first to get there with a reverse sweep! Along with Haseeb Hameed, Jennings may well the future of English batting. Alistair Cook might soon be under pressure from the young openers.

Watch video – Debut ton for Keaton Jennings 

The other bit of sensational cricket came from India’s skipper Kohli. Kohli is not India’s regular first slip fielder but with Rahane out with injury, someone had to fill in. Watch the video to see how Virat first goes in the wrong direction before recovering quickly to safely pouch England’s dangerman, Joe Root.

Watch video – Kohli’s great catch to dismiss Joe Root.

See-saw

England were in a really strong position at 230-2 and India were looking down the barrell. Jennings and Moeen Ali has just begun to step on the accelerator. As is so often the case in the sub-continent, things changed in a flash. Moeen was out to a top-edged slop sweep and within 2 balls, Jennings was caught in Ashwin’s web at gully. When the leading run-scorer of 2016, Johnny Bairstow was caught in the deep off another top-edged sweep, India had clawed their way back into the game to leave England at a precarious 249-5 with around 10 overs still left in the day’s play.

Gripping

With the fall of Bairstow’s wicket, Buttler joined Stokes at the crease. Ashwin and Jayant were fizzing the ball past both inside and outside edge regularly. Both Stokes and Buttler were being beaten in the flight and off the pitch. Add disconcerting bounce off a good length and India would have hoped to have picked up another couple of wickets before the close of play. Somehow, the two young England batsman lived to fight another day. England ended the day on 288 for 5. Tense stuff.

Watch video –  full highlights for Day 1 of the 4th India v England test from the official BCCI website 

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