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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lost in the Garden of Eden! Lost in the Garden of Eden! Aint no one gonna believe it but we're lost in the Garden of Eden!

Been a while since I wrote for the blog, mainly due to illness, trips to the emergency ward and such. Had a whole host of things I wanted to talk about, but they've all been forgotten now...maybe they'll surface again in time. :-D For now, instead, you'll just have to read about cricket :-p.

Never actually written about any game before, but hey, there's a first time for everything, and I've decided that since my own life doesnt really have anything to interesting to write about at the mo, I might as well branch out a bit.

Today was one of the more intense days of cricket I've watched, even though I barely got to 'watch' any of it, and had to spend most of the time following the online commentary on cricinfo. But intense it was, because of who was involved, what was at stake, and not least the incredible quality of the play on the field.

In the end it was great to see India bring it home, taking the final wicket with an over or two to spare, and fighting back to tie the series, after we were so completely and clinically destroyed in Nagpur. Most people (the media in particular) rejoiced at the fact that the team had managed to hold onto our No 1 ranking, but for me, what was especially satisfying was the brilliant fightback and turnaround from the previous game.

I argued at the time, that the defeat wasnt quite as bad as it appeared...that it had taken a perfect storm of circumstances to bring about...injuries to dravid, laxman and yuvraj, career defining innings from amla and kallis, the law of averages catching up with our own mr cricket gambhir, and one incredible day of bowling from dale steyn. We might have lost that game anyways, but it certainly would have been a lot closer if even ONE of those circumstances had been different. I certainly didnt agree with people who immediately seemed to overreact to the defeat, calling for wholesale changes, talking about our No 1 ranking being a sham, and all the other hysterical commentary that any Indian defeat brings.

That said, even I couldnt have expected just how heavy a counterpunch India would throw back at them in the second test- especially leading up to tea on the first day of the match. Prem Panicker describes the events that followed in the last session much more eloquently than I ever could. It's been said before, but there just seems to be something about Eden Gardens, and Indian comebacks. In just over a session, SA crashed from 218/1 to 266/9, and one could argue that from there, it was India's game. Of course, that wasnt really true, with many roadblocks to overcome...India's innings was hardly a 82/2, the game was in the balance before Sehwag and Sachin joined for a huge partnership....when they lost 3 quick wickets at the end of that day, SA once again had a sniff, except that Dhoni and Laxman then managed to put together a second 200+ run partnership. (Apparently its only the second time that 4 Indian batsmen have scored centuries in the same innings...and since the first one came against Bangladesh, that hardly counts does it? ;-)

Finally, there was the small matter of bowling out South Africa again in the time left, and as expected, they didnt exactly lie down without a fight. The rain certainly didnt help, with most of the 4th day lost, and then came the news this morning that Zaheer Khan was injured and couldnt play, depriving the bowling attack of their cutting edge, the man who has been India's best bowler for most of the last two years. Oh, and then there was Hashim Amla, SA's best batsman in the series, who'd already scored 253 and 114 in his previous two innings. As long as he stood firm, they would always have a chance of saving the game. As it turned out, he scored yet another unbeaten century but his nine hour struggle wasnt quite enough, with his teammates leaving him stranded on 127. As a matter of interest Amla's numbers for the series are 490 runs from 3 innings, losing his wicket only once. I wonder if its a little irritating for South Africans to know that their best batsman is a beardy brown man :-D

So the series is done now (well, the Test matches anyway, and since the ODI team is seriously depleted, i expect nothing less than a mauling from a pissed off SA team that wants revenge)
You'd expect that a marquee clash between the top two teams in the world would have involved some tight draws and closely fought victories, not each match ending in an innings defeat for either team, but despite that, I dont think anyone could say that it wasnt exciting cricket. The end of the year, and India's trip to SA for the return series, cant get here fast enough.

Right now though, I need to go find my South African mate Evan, and do some constructive gloating.

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