Sehwag shows the way in Indian victory…


International cricket returned to India four days ago. After the tragedy on the 26th last month, cricket was the last thing on people’s mind. There were arguments and counter arguments on whether the tour should continue or not. And the distractions off the field could easily have been a good excuse to be on the losing side. Not for this Indian team, though…

For over three and a half days, England was the dominant team. When they declared just three overs after tea setting India a target of 387 to win, England must have thought they had the match in the bag.

Most Indians probably believed that too – but not Virender Sehwag. His blitzkrieg yesterday did two important things that changed the tide of the match – first, it showed his team mates that it could be done and they could indeed win the match and second, it broke the morale of the English team. With around thirty overs to go for the day, England would have hoped to have knocked out 2 or maybe even three wickets and restricted India to say around 80-90 runs. India would then need close to 300 runs on the final day. On a fifth day pitch in India, that would have been a tough ask.

But with Sehwag’s onslaught, the total at the end of the day read 131 for 1 – India had wiped out more than a third of the score needed to win and they needed just 257 on the final day. Suddenly the target seemed so achievable.

And yet, with Sehwag back in the dressing room, there were several things that still pointed towards an Indian loss –

  • A fifth day Indian pitch where no team has made over 276 in the fourth innings to win a match
  • Dravid’s form
  • Tendulkar’s fourth innings average and the constant criticism that he has very rarely batted India to a victory in the fourth innings
  • An unproven Yuvraj Singh (in Tests, any way)

But there has been some transformation in the Indian dressing room under Dhoni’s captaincy that has made this team believe in themselves. This was again evident today.

Gambhir scored 66 and Laxman chipped in with 26, but the key partnership was between Tendulkar and Yuvraj, who scored the bulk of the runs. They put on an unbroken partnership of 163 runs – Tendulkar scored 103* and Yuvraj 85*. They got together when the score was 224 for 4 and a point in time when England probably still thought they could win this game.

Tendulkar hasn’t scored a fourth innings century since that 136 he scored in this very ground a few years ago against Pakistan – when he ended up on the losing side. That loss would have hurt Sachin badly as India needed just 17 runs to win when he got out. It also led to criticisms of his inability to lead India to a victory in the fourth innings. With this win, that monkey is finally off his back now.

At the end of the day, India won the game with 6 wickets in hand and romped home with more than a twenty overs to spare. Although Gambhir, Tendulkar and Yuvraj contributed to the victory, it was only possible because of Sehwag’s 83. It is not often that someone who isn’t the top scorer and who hasn’t taken any wickets is awarded the man of the match award. But such was his impact…

-Mahesh-

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6 responses to “Sehwag shows the way in Indian victory…

  1. What an epic of a match. It was so fulfilling and gratifying to watch such a pure “test match” . This match completely reinstated my faith and passion in the longer version of the game.
    A good part of the credit should go to Pietersen and his team…. for making such a bold statement… ” we decide our destiny and not the terror mongers”… thank you Pietersen & co. Andrew miller was absolutely spot on.. .. “But ultimately, it would be wrong for England to gaze at their navels right now. The team as a whole should walk tall in the brief interlude between matches, safe in the knowledge that their mere presence has helped, not only to lift the mood of a nation after last month’s atrocities, but to promote the pre-eminence of Test cricket at precisely the moment it needs all the good publicity it can get. Right now, India are the team to beat in world cricket, in all forms of the game. An under-prepared England team gave it their best, and provoked the best possible response”.
    There were many winners in the whole game. The top one on the list is … TEST CRICKET”…
    Can’t wait for Friday.

  2. Well done India. England no doubt will be scratching their heads wondering how they could dominate the rest for the first 3.5 days and still end up on the losing side. This was Test cricket at it’s very best and India pulled off an unbelievable victory. No doube helped be a number of folks…Dhoni and Bajji in the first innings, Zaheer’s bowling and the fantastic batting of Ghambir, Shewag, Tendulkar, Yuvi. In the past there has not been an occasion when Stauss has scored a century and England have lost a game…always a first. Well done all…the best of test cricket in all that I can remember.

  3. @Sriram & @Raj

    It was Test cricket at its very best. Just don’t tell Sehwag – he thought it was a T20 game 🙂

    And England should feel no shame in losing this game – they were under prepared, had injury problems and the toll the attacks on Mumbai had on the Team cannot really be quantified. Yet, they dominated the game for well over three & a half days and gave us a terrific test match.

    From an England supporter’s point of view, it was a disappointing finish, but for Indian supporters, the English earned their respect just by showing up.

    And it was earned even before a single ball was bowled…

  4. Yes-Blogesh-I absolutely agree-I love the English team-They are a nice bunch of human beings-Even the Flintoff-Yuvaraj onfield misdemeanor was hilarious and very watchable!
    On a serious note-Yes Pieterson and Co deserve all the credit for standing up for the game-Hats Off!!

  5. “I absolutely agree-I love the English team-They are a nice bunch of human beings”. Well said subbu. What a pleasant contrast from the whining Australians to the smiling Englishmen. Kudos to Pieterson and Co.

  6. @subbu567 and @palambrugge

    The fact that the English team showed up in itself is a big think. I suspect that the following teams will not have made the trip under similar circumstances: Australia, South Africa, New Zealand. England is the ONLY “white” team that would have made the trip. For that they deserve all the kudos. Re the Flintoff, Collingwood Harmison Vs Yuvi, unfortunately, part of the game…Yuvi let it affect him the first innings and as he said to Shastri in the post match…he was not interested in English lessons from Freddie in the second innings. the only other altercation I observed was Sehwag talking to Peiterson about negative bowling by Panesar in particular.

    The spirit was right. I feel England could have used more pace at one end and applied an outside off stump line set a 7-2 field and choked the flow of runs somewhat (similar to the one day against Australia at Nagpur).

    The question I ask myself would have been…what if the Tendulkar catch had been held (at silly point by Cook?) and India had folded?…I say it would still have been a great game as the intent of the terrorists would have been blunted and England would have shown good resolve after a 5-0 defeat in the ODI’s

    Raj

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