Almanac Cricket – Australia v India Test series: Thank god we met Kohli!

28 January 2008

Adelaide Oval Test, Day 5. A pleasant surprise as the quirks of scheduling once more grant Adelaide Oval an Australia Day Test. A public holiday Monday presents the perfect opportunity to come and watch a day of cricket from the (old) Chappell Stands on the eastern side of the still in original shape oval.

An opportunity to farewell Tendulkar and Gilchrist on their last days in the Australian Test arena. And maybe, just the sniff of a possible result. It happened last summer, after all.

On an old fashioned Adelaide road, Australia’s 563 (Ponting 140, Clarke 118, Hayden 103) matches India’s 526 (Tendulkar 153) across the best part of four days. On the dawn of Day 5, with India eight runs to the good, a draw beckons.

But trailing 2-1 in the series and with nine wickets in hand, just maybe an entertaining day’s cricket is ahead. India could bat productively for the best part of two sessions and give themselves enough runs and time to attempt to collapse Australia into a series draw.

The man sitting next to us is from near West Bromwich. Life has been good enough to him that he can now afford to travel the world, on the comparative cheap, watching cricket. We talk about the unlikelihood that his local football team can make it in the Premier League and that “the Hawthorns” means something else in Melbourne.

Sehwag strides out with as much intent as Dravid lacks. After Draviding his way along to 18 from 55 balls, a Brett Lee bouncer cracks his finger and puts him out of the Test. Lee, in this late stage of his career, is the very picture of controlled aggression. Tendulkar’s is the only wicket to fall before lunch, no match between wickets for the rocket attached to Mitch Johnson’s left shoulder. But 100 runs to the good and Sehwag still at the crease, India are well placed to launch in the second session.

If only someone had told Ganguly and Laxman who chew up balls slower than a nursing home resident gumming a well-done steak. 70 runs for the session and the Test (and series) is officially dead.

Not that there was much of a chance of a result but India, Sehwag aside, showed absolutely no intent to chase a result. The fear of losing from that position outweighing in the minds of their leaders the possibility of drawing a series in Australia. It is, of course, a nod to the quality of Australia’s bowling and batting that they didn’t deem the risk worthwhile.

 

9 December 2018

Different decade, different time of year, substantially different stadium, but India are once again visiting Adelaide Oval. Largely off the bat (and front pad) of Pujara, India now have a lead of around 300.

Much to the consternation of various media (social and otherwise) commentators, the Indian middle and lower order throw their bats to limited effect. Nathan Lyon finally gets the reward that his early innings contest with Pujara deserved.

India’s captain is clearly more interested in having enough time to bowl the opposition out than putting themselves in an unlosable position. Certainly against a comparatively weak opposition, but important nonetheless.

India win.

 

Under Kohli, this is a different visiting India to what we have become accustomed. Attacking, combative, entertaining. What all forms of cricket should be if they expect people to pay to get in and watch. Test cricket can be all of those things and still retain its unique charm.

Virat likes a scrap. So much so, that he seeks to provoke it at seemingly every opportunity. It’s the spark that drives the fight; the desire to win rather than the fear of losing.

It’s taken a while to get here, but I bloody love Virat!

 

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About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"

Comments

  1. With you 100% DB. I have a big man crush on Virat. He is the only player that I turn on the TV for at the moment when he is at the crease. He has a fire in his eyes that never goes out. His crisp footwork is a joy in an era of lumpen T20 hoikers and plonkers.
    I loved it when he was revving up the Indian majority in the Perth crowd to get behind his bowlers. Nothing sinister there. Sheeds waving his scarf.
    And I respect Tim Paine enormously for refusing to be bluffed by the hoopla. He should remain captain when the Boy Wonder returns. Like Mike Brearley – who says the best player is the best leader? Both Gary Abletts clearly showed that leaderships was the missing element of their sporting DNA.

  2. DBalassone says:

    King Kohli is great, isn’t he? Aside from his supreme batting prowess, I love his sense of theatre out in the middle – I see it as passion (not arrogance). I love how he is testing the now-tentative Aussies to the max with his antics. And good on the Aussies for giving a little bit back. Interesting to compare the two different Indian mindsets 2007/2008 (btw I think Sachin was back in 2011/12) with Kohli’s current team. I wonder if some of the drama of that 2007/08 tour helped create this different Indian mindset.

  3. Citrus Bob says:

    Virat for Governor-General and Tim Paine for the first President of the Australian Republic although I know Timmy wont get Rulebook’s vote!

  4. Kohli incredible batsman but for mine that’s it folks if a aussie was carrying on like he does he would be crucified also he’s great at giving it but quite often squeals when he cops fantastic and appropriate sledge from Payne imo ( great topic Dave he is so pollurising )

  5. “Tickets” Kohli.
    Not too many redeeming features I can spot there.

    It is possible to win, to challenge orthodoxy, to attack, to back your own team, and do it all without carrying on like a prawn.

  6. Kohli is a quite remarkable character, incredible bat and a big mouth. Nice to see the Australian captain giving it back to him. Now it gets down to Melbourne and the Boxing Day test where there’s sure to be plenty of bums on seats. Hopefully the Aussie batters can find a little form.

  7. Beauty DB. I’ve great admiration for Kohli as a bat and a skipper. I’m just not sure if I like him. He’s certainly dominating the summer’s narrative arc.

    With his infantile yelping at every spinner’s delivery I think Pant’s worthy of more scorn than his captain. For mine he’s gone past Wade for reasons to turn off the stump mike.

  8. Good seeing Kohli taken down a peg or two. He’s there with Williamson and Root as being in the top 3 current international batsmen, but as a person?! I totally concur with Rulebook, Fisho, the great eucalyptus etc.

    Tim Paine summed him up perfectly.

    1-1 all now, 1 more victory than many expected. Roll on Boxing Day.

    Glen!

  9. Thanks for the read and comments folks. His ability to polarise is very much part of his appeal for me (anyone who is exposed to Indian cricket twitter will know it is not a place for nuance or the faint hearted).

    I think Paine absolutely nailed the approach in that Test, PB. Not a backwards step but not abusive.

    You are correct, DB, he did come out in 11/12. We were convinced in 2008 that we’d seen the last of him at Test level, though (lost in the mists of my mind was that he actually did come back). That 2007/08 Indian team was remarkable in a number of ways. In the side that played in Adelaide, captained by Kumble, you also had former captains Ganguly, Tundulkar, and Dravid with soon to be captain MS Dhoni as well. It can’t have been an easy team to lead.

    Interesting concept, CB.

    I think the Paine sledge cut pretty deep, Rulebook.

    Yes, it is possible to win without carrying on like a prawn, ER. But is it possible for Virat (I don’t know)? All I am sure of is cricket against India is more entertaining for his presence.

    Yep, Fisho, hopefully the MCG pitch lifts its game too.

    Yep, Pant is an interesting character too, Mickey. Needs to put as much work into his batting technique as he does into his chat.

    I’ve been getting the lad to watch Kohli bat, Glen!. Such economy of movement, head always in the right place. The universal first stride that occasionally gets him into trouble but has been rewarded with mountains of runs. If given the choice I’d rather watch Williamson, though.

  10. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great piece Dave. We bemoan the lack of characters in sport in the professional era. Here we have a real character on our shores, a polarising character at that.
    The first two Tests have been totally engrossing. Hard fought, aggressive, entertaining. Paine a fine leader. Kohli a general, a maestro, a villain all at once. We don’t often get a Test series like this in Australia.

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