Tag Archives: New Zealand

A few words of gratitude from Mental Disintegration

I would like to thank the other Test cricketing nation’s boards for managing to have three other Test series arranged to take place just before the 2010-11 Ashes series started.

With matches like India – New Zealand, Sri Lanka – West Indies and Pakistan – South Africa all going on during the early hours, I was able to formulate a mock conditioning program for Ashes viewing.  By sitting through infuriatingly painful moments such as Harbhajan Singh’s centuries, it’s going to take something extraordinary to send me to sleep now.

Nice going, lads.

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India remember that they’re ranked #1 in Tests

Having remembered this, they decided to start playing like it.

New Zealand meanwhile, having briefly discarded the form book, must have accidentally stumbled upon it again, as they batted on the first day like the dicks (in Mark Greatbatch’s words) that got battered by Bangladesh in an ODI series before they came to India.  The bulk of their paltry total of 193 came from two cripples in Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, before Tim Southee’s lusty blows off a Harbhajan Singh over in the first session of the second day.

Remarkably, India managed this without talismanic seamer Zaheer Khan, who has sat out this Test with a groin injury.  Ishant Sharma came in for Zaheer, and looked significantly better than in recent efforts for his figures of 4/43.

In reply, by the time I’d blinked once, Virender Sehwag had battered his way through and over the New Zealand fielders to chomp away at their minute lead, before yet again getting out to Daniel Vettori, chipping the ball back to the Kiwi skipper when a century looked to be calling.  His opening partner Gautam Gambhir played with growing fluency, before chasing a Southee delivery outside off-stump and out caught behind.

This brought Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar together in the middle.  Between the two of them, they have over 25,000 runs in Test cricket, just the men for the job when you want your team batting into a dominant position.  Telling these two that they have plenty of time to score runs is like showing a red rag to a bull, only much more sedate, as they compiled their 17th century stand (the most between any batsmen).

With Tendulkar looking set, Vettori and co. might just need a minor miracle to deny Tendulkar his 50th Test century on the third day, let alone avoid falling at the last hurdle in a series where they’d worked so hard to silence doubters.


Harbhajan Singh, Test batsman?

For a fielding side, there’s nothing quite as demoralising as a tailender carting your weary bowling attack around the ground after more than enough toiling in the field as the opposition’s top order flattened whatever hopes you had of taking something from the innings.

Well actually, there is, as New Zealand discovered.

Daniel Vettori must be getting tired of Harbhajan in this series.  On two occasions now, he has managed to almost single handedly undo all the work put in by the Kiwi bowlers and shift momentum India’s way.  In Motera, India were left reeling after Chris Martin’s brilliant spell had them on the ropes at 65/6, only for the spinner to put on a stand of 163 with V.V.S. Laxman, leading to his maiden ton (having scored 69 in the first innings) and India’s safety.

In Hyderabad, New Zealand’s fielding unit had put in a dogged performance to restrict India’s top order batsmen.  When Pragyan Ojha was dismissed, India were 367/9, leading by 17 runs.  By the time the final wicket fell, Harbhajan was unbeaten on 111, and India had 472 on the scoreboard, a lead of 122.  Once again, his batting had taken the momentum from New Zealand’s bowlers like he’d pulled the rug from underneath them.

Yes, there have been occasions when tailenders have scored centuries, but scoring two in back to back matches?  It boggles the mind.  Harbhajan Singh’s gone from being a jobbing offbreak bowler to one of the most in-form batsmen in Test cricket.  To think that the build up to the Hyderabad Test had been all about Tendulkar’s 50th century, that didn’t even happen!


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