India – Australia Test match, has become more like a show piece event. The teams face each other more often now than they had done in the past. Though, the frequent meetings have taken away little shine from the rivalry the intensity with which the teams play has never diminished. It has in fact been growing since the late 90’s tours. Today’s match is just another example for the manner in which these teams fight against each other. The never say die attitude of Aussies, umpiring errors, yet another match winning knock from one very very special guy, a gutsy 9th wicket partnership, and the game swings all were noticeable.
Aussies, more often than not will have one player or the other, who always pulls the team out of troubles. It was Shane Watson and Paine in their first innings, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger, almost did it, in the 2nd innings. This Aussie team may not be same as Vintage Aussie teams of 90’s and early part of millennium, but this team is capable of becoming invincible one. The most important thing is that Aussies are not relying on their more experienced players, to guide them to victory, but instead the youngsters they themselves do the job when needed. For instance, had the throw from smith hit the stumps during the dying moments, the result would have been in Oz favor. He had the guts and the desire to attempt a run out even when there is no player to back up the throw, to help his team win. A great sign – youngsters showing more appetite for success, for a budding team. Ricky Ponting can be a happy captain, though his personal form is not so good at present. One conspicuous thing is that the Aussies were able to push India to the verge of defeat, with bowlers who had very little experience playing in Indian conditions. They were relatively young and inexperienced compared to their Indian counter parts. If they can find a good spinner or an experienced bowler they can really give more tough fight in the coming test. 215 in 4th innings is going to be really tough in indian conditions to chase, but still the home team boasts of players like Sehwag, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Dhoni, Raina. It could have been a cake walk for them, had Hilfenhaus and Bollinger not come in their way.
OZ bowlers, bowled with lot of heart and more importantly they were not intimidated by these great players. They almost pulled it off, but for the very modest but special (Lax)man. He had played these kind of match winning innings often, the most recent one being the last test match against SL. But this one is Special, because this has once again come against his favorite team “Australia”. His place in the squad is never sure, as the writer in cricinfo rightly noted that “Laxman has to fight for the place through out his career”. But he takes everything, which comes, in his own stride and keeps performing. He loves to be in a tough situation and proves that he is tougher than the situation in itself. He has the uncanny knack of placing the ball, with just a roll of his wrists. The timing of his shots are exquisite. Nothing can bother Laxman, not even his back spasms, while he is on a mission to win one more match for India.
He has done it on lot of occasions, with different partners, but today he had Ishant Sharma, to take India to victory. Ishant have had a tough time coming to the test match and even in the first innings. But his 3 wickets in the 2nd innings, did wonders to his confidence and that showed up in his batting as well. For a tail ender to face 90 odd deliveries, (more than what Laxman faced) against the aussie fast bowlers and to help team win is a great achievement for this young lad. He applied himself and gained the confidence of Laxman. Laxman showed his belief by allowing Ishant to face the music, rather than shielding him and building up the pressure. A truly remarkable partnership between them helped India to taste the success.!!!
This was a real team victory with almost all the key players contributing. Zaheer with his 8 wickets, Sachin, Dravid and Viru with 50’s in first innings and bhaji 2 wickets during 2nd innings. This victory can be cherished for years to come. But India should improve in fielding,and those missed catches of Watson and Paine, would have counted a lot had the result gone in Aussie favor.
One last quote from Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged ” Great people in the world will never tell – They show ; They will never claim – They Prove”. Laxman is proving this for ages. He is proving by his craftsmanship with his bat. Indeed he is Very Very Special one for our Team and for future Generations!!