Game Day, Second Test,

Chennai, Oct 14th 2004.

As far as this game is concerned, more than Cricket or to see India improve its performance, my wait was to watch the good old MAC Stadium and its ambience. The D Stand noise, aristocratic Pavilion Terrace, foreigner filled A Stand, small whispers of Tamil speaking TV Crews, It is around 2.5 years since my last trip to Chennai. DD coverage made it more nostalgic, camera panned and showed people at regular intervals, most of whom I really do not know who they are or where they are from, may be from Tambaran, Anna Nagar, Chrompet, T.Nagar, Triplicane, but some how all of them seemed very familiar to me, my eyes scanned through the cheering crowd to see “is there someone known to me”. I was thrilled to see high balloon over the score board, Triplicane buildings in backdrop and the train passing by in the near by Chepauk station. Watching this “Home” game from a distant land on the other side of the world in the wee hours is really a great feeling. I simply miss Chennai.

On to the Second test, you would have known by now Indians are on top. Aussies were bundled for meager total of 240, thanks to Anil Kumble, he was clearly out standing. The way he bowled was simply superb , I am a very detailed critic of Anil Kumble, usually if he gets 7+ wickets in an Inning, he would have scored a century along, meaning you would find a triple figure in the runs column. This time it was sweet, less than 60 runs. Way to go big Guy.

Gangully had an attacking field all through, a very big change in him. The flood gates opened when Harbajan got Hayden out. The game plan was to slam Harbajan, Hayden did this right from the word go, Hayden soon completed his 50 by launching one more SLV-6, MAC became a stand by SriHariKota. At lunch Umpire Shepherd was seen dancing in one leg in the pavilion, yes Aussies were 111/0. Great position,

I had no interest to watch the game further; I dozed off in my drawing room. However Sanjay’s MAnju MAnju nose cries on TV woke me up for the post lunch session, though I was still half sleep, I tried to peek at the score at regular intervals. India desperately needed a break through; Aussies were set to score 600+ easily.

The 1st Wicket: Hayden came out his crease and launched Harbajan was caught by Laxman., the real fair and balanced Chennai Crowd cheered for Hayden as he walked out. He made 58. Slowly one after another breaks, at times I thought I was dreaming. How ever what unfolded on the screen was for real. Kumble was taking wickets at will.
Best one I saw was the debut century maker Clarke, he never saw the ball well right from the word go, and he was trapped in front by Kumble’s “Soekly” Googly , he looked in vain for Billy “the Dancer” Bowden, No! He was gone, Shep raised his finger at once.

1st Session was dominated by “Sleep” and the Aussies, the following sessions were totally electric. Chennai crowd was going nuts seeing wickets tumble; But I was also soon bundled out by Mr. Sleep, Later at 5.30 am EST, got a phone call from my Dad, he woke me up and told about the match situation. I was up bright and clear. Soon Aussies were all out, about 40 minutes to close of play.

Kaif was preferred in place of Chopra, I really do not know what justification Ganguly has for dropping Chopra, Kaif did not add any value. Short leg position was specialized by Chopra, it was missing him dearly. As usual Pathan tried while Zahir Khan did nothing.

Patel’s keeping was totally shoddy, he failed a lot, thank heavens that he did not fumble catches. Think about this, how can a player without any kind of local game experience handle world class spinners like Harbajan and Kumble? WHAT IS THE JUSTIFICATION TILL DATE, it was clearly visible to every one, WHY SELECTORS ARE “BENT” ON KEEPING THIS GUY STILL IN? I would ask Patel to go and collect stamps before collection behind wickets.

Umpiring, Shep ruled not out to Kasprowicz, how ever this guy walked, a rare gesture from an Aussie, in general if an Aussie player is given out for a poor decision, a crane is required to lift them out. General practice is they simply never move and Ranjan “Madgale” will punish Indians for over appealing. But was nice to see Kasprowicz, but Mr. Shep who ruled him “not out” was left guessing. I felt Gillespie to be the most important wicket. India bowlers never wipe out the tail quickly, I expected him to stay and take the score to 350+, however, it was Kumble’s day, his critics like me often comment that he takes wickets between Adi and Amaavasai, Yesterday was one.

Yuvraj , the over rated cricketer of our times came to open with “Viru the Cautious Sehwag”. Viru has an above 50 batting average in test cricket but still has an axe above his head. Viru started of quite well showed no reaction punished bad balls, However Yuvraj the talented Indian never settled, he struggled a lot and was stuck on the helmet by McGrath, I request all the villain actors in Kodambakkam or to be Villains actors to check the smile he gave to Yuvraj after the blow on his helmet, Man! what a sinister smile, which gave the message “is your skull in place mate”.

Yuvraj was all set to get out, and played a poor shot to a wide ball from Shane Warne. Gill Christ took a very hard catch, Yuvaraj walked on his own. Shane Warne equaled Murali’s World Record. Then Pathan walked in as night watch men, Stumps on the first day, India 28/1. Hope we put more runs on the board.