by Fraser Sutherland
Australia had just won the first Test match of the Border-Gavaskar series between India and Australia over the Boxing Day period at the ‘G’. It was time for the New Year’s test match between the two to be played at the SCG. Australia chose to bat, so Phil Jacques and Matthew Hayden ran out onto the field. One of the greatest test matches ever was about to begin.
Australia batted solidly putting 463 runs on the board with Andrew Symonds making an impressive 162 runs. However India had other ideas about this good start by Australia and churned out 532 with Laxman and Tendulkar both making terrific centuries to put Australia on the back foot after the first innings.
Instead of Australia letting India dictate the game, Australia bounced back with a superb 401. Hayden and Hussey contributed magnificently with tonnes next to their names on the scoreboard.
It was now India’s turn chasing an improbable 333 on the last day. The match was looking like a dead rubber for most of the day’s play with Sourav Ganguly contributing a meagre 51 runs.
Andrew Symonds was to bowl the 70th over to Anil Kumble with Harbhajan Singh at the other end. With the test match looking close to a draw with very little time left in the game , the score was 7/208. Not much happened in this over with just two runs from it which left Harbhajan Singh on strike for the 71st over to be bowled by Michael Clarke.
At this stage in Michael Clarke’s career he had shown plenty of talent with a century on debut for Australia however he had been tagged as bit of a pretty boy. This is because he had done quite a few commercials and drove fancy cars.
Despite this he had been given an amazing opportunity to win his country a Test match. The first ball of his over was to Harbhajan and was quicker than usual. Pitching on off stump it bounced and spun causing dust to puff up off the pitch hitting the shoulder of Harbhajan’s bat going to Michael Hussey in first slip. OUT. For once it seemed possible that Australia could win this test match.
Next in was R.P. Singh who was one of the youngest players in the Indian team. Michael Clarke came into bowl to R. P. Singh.Clarke put the ball on a fullish length to draw R.P. forward but straightened just enough to hit him on the pad in line with the stumps. OUT. Michael Clarke could do it and win this game.
The next man in was the youngest player in the team, Ishant Sharma who was only 19 and playing in only his third Test match. Who was to be the hero for their country, Clarke or Sharma? Sharma came out with two right handed gloves! This was obviously a time wasting technique used by the Indians to make sure that this was the last over of the game. After this time wasting Clarke came in and bowled a similar delivery to the one he got R.P. Singh with. However despite hitting Sharma’s pad it was slightly shorter pitched than the other one and Sharma got well forward meaning he was safe for now.
Clarke came in again with a shorter ball that Sharma easily defended off the back foot. It now seemed that India could do it.
Michael Clarke came in to deliver the ball with the weight of Australia on his shoulders. It was fuller pitched on off stump drawing Sharma forward spinning off the sacred SCG pitch. It hit the edge of Sharma’s bat and went straight into Michael Hussey’s hands. OUT. Michael Clarke had done it. Australia had won this nail-biting thriller at the death.