It was Adam Gilchrist’s final day as a Test player and perhaps the last time that Australian crowds will watch Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble in a five-day game. But on a day for legends, it was another touched by greatness that stole the plaudits with a magnificent century that earned India a draw at the Adelaide Oval. Australia may have won the series 2-1, but Virender Sehwag’s dazzling 151 will still be talked about in the years to come. The marquee names either failed or were incapacitated, and the next-highest score was Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 20.
Given the emotion-tinged nature of the occasion, it was appropriate that Gilchrist had a hand in Sehwag’s dismissal, holding on to a thin edge off Andrew Symonds. By then, Sehwag had faced 236 balls and the lead was 216. The game, despite the absence of contributions from anyone else, was safe. At 5:28pm, with just over half an hour for the scheduled close, both captains and umpires decided that that was the case, with India closing on 7 for 269.
The key passage of play was either side of the tea interval. With Dravid having broken the middle finger of his right hand, the game was still in the balance when Dhoni arrived at the crease. Unconvincing with the bat for much of this series, he was again in hit-or-miss form. A wild flail off Brett Lee flew behind point for four, and there was another streaky shot through the slips before he came down the pitch to slam Symonds over mid-on for four more.
By the time Matthew Hayden held a stunning catch leaping to his left off Lee’s bowling, Dhoni had helped Sehwag add 51, nudging the lead to 200. And that in effect was that, with the final moments dominated by players and spectators alike bidding adieu to the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman of all time.
Having lost Dravid and then Tendulkar to a disastrous run out, what India needed after lunch was a long partnership. They weren’t to get it from Ganguly, even if he did avoid falling to Brad Hogg once again. Ricky Ponting had gone off the field leaving Gilchrist in charge, and it was Mitchell Johnson that proved to be his go-to man.
A loud shout for leg before was turned down, but Ganguly then hit a full delivery to short cover, where Michael Hussey took a fine reflex catch. The bat had thudded into the ground and a huge puff of dust went up. A confused Asad Rauf consulted Billy Bowden and then went up to the third umpire, who confirmed that the ball had indeed gone off the face of Ganguly’s bat.
Laxman too failed, gloving one down the leg side off the tireless Lee, and it was left to Sehwag to hold things together. With Johnson bowling a fine 11-over spell, Sehwag didn’t hit a single boundary in a session where India made only 68, but his mature approach was just what was needed.
Earlier, he had made 42 runs on his own in the morning before Tendulkar opened his account with a pleasing cover drive off Stuart Clark. Dropped on Sunday evening by Michael Clarke, Sehwag started the morning in a positive frame of mind, cutting Clark behind point for four. A slash against Lee was less precise, but it still streaked past the slips for four.
By then though, Lee had dealt a blow of his own, crunching Dravid on the bottom hand with a bouncer timed at 144 kph. He tried to carry on, but within a couple of overs, the pain had intensified to an extent that he had to go off for a precautionary x-ray. He finished with 11 runs, and muted applause, a far cry from his heroics of four years earlier.
The first ball that Tendulkar faced after walking out in a hurry saw a huge appeal from Symonds for a catch on the ricochet at cover after Tendulkar had driven the ball into the ground just short of Phil Jaques at silly point. The umpires conferred before going for help to the third umpire, who then ruled in Tendulkar’s favour.
None of it appeared to faze Sehwag in the slightest. He cover-drove Lee and then cut him uppishly past gully to reach his half-century from 78 balls. There was also a lovely drive behind point, and a glance for four as the lead started to grow. Hogg’s introduction only accelerated the progress. After taking him over long-on for a massive six, Sehwag then played two cover drives, before a single to mid-on off Johnson got him to three figures in just 123 balls.
Two balls later, disaster for India. Tendulkar tapped one on to the leg side and set off. Within a few seconds, he realised his mistake and tried to turn back. Johnson’s throw though was precision itself, and Tendulkar was way short of his ground. His final Test innings in Australia had produced just 13, and yet another second-innings failure.
Sehwag’s innings gave India the opportunity to dream, but reality bit soon after lunch. There wasn’t to be a series-levelling win, but a draw was nothing to sneeze at after the manner in which Australia have brushed aside most tourists in recent seasons. A series that commenced at the MCG with hopes of an epic contest had delivered exactly that, between the two outstanding Test sides on the planet. Bring on October, and the next chapter.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Anil Kumble, Australia, India, India in Australia 2007, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Viriender Sehwag, VVS Laxman
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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