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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Retirement of Anil Kumble overshadows the Aussie fightback

Finally, the last day of the third test at Kotla resembled the first test at Bangalore - after all the batting glut that happened on the first four days. The Indian Fab Four combined effectively to shut out the Australian bowling attack. Gambhir and Sachin started off the fightback, which was continued till the end by VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly - just like the first test.

The Indian situation was ironical considering that after the first 2 days (why even after the third day), it was they who were in the drivers seat!!! This talks highly of the Aussie comeback, especially the batsmen, who not only scored runs but also spent time in the middle, thereby reducing India's chances. The Indian fielders made mess of the catches that were offered to them - one wonders what would have happened if Ishant had caught Clarke early on the 4th day. This was one of the slices of luck that the Aussie team needed on a tour, that is posing a lot of questions to them.

Even though the batsmen brought back Australia to the match and ensured that they were still in the hunt as far as the series is concerned, the bowling form will definitely be a cause of concern. Of all the innings that the Indians have batted, the Aussie attack has been able to get them out only in 2 innings. The lack of a quality spinner or even a good backup seamer is felt very badly - this has been the reason why the scoreline of the series stands at 1-0 for the Indians, instead of 2-1 for the Aussies. Brett Lee seemed to be trying hard to come back to form - this was not enough for getting the vital wickets though.

The match was made memorable by the sudden announcement on the last day by Anil Kumble - knowing very well that he would not be able to play the final test, he decided to retire from all forms of cricket. He has been struggling for the last few test matches and his repeated injuries must have helped him make the decision. A great legend who did not receive his due credit as a match-winner, only because of the presence of another legend (Sachin Tendulkar) in the same era. The performance of Amit Mishra in Mohali must have gladdened Anil Kumble - justification
enough for him to leave in the peaceful thought that Indian spin is in good hands.

The next match at Nagpur will be interesting to watch now - will the Aussies strike back and draw the series? The pitch is another factor that will come into the equation. If the Aussie bowling can come to the party, just like their batsmen, the Indians will have their hands full. Sehwag and Rahul Dravid are the batsmen who have not scored yet - will Nagpur be lucky for them? From all counts, it looks like Harbhajan will come in place of Anil Kumble and Munaf Patel for Amit Mishra. The Aussies will look at bringing in Brollinger for Cameron White.
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