The day one had spent weeks and months waiting for finally arrived this morning.
Boxing Day at the MCG. You can click on the link to study its rich history but the more obvious parts are that the first ever Test match was held here in 1877 when Australia beat England by 45 runs. And then it was here that the Centenary Test was held where Australia beat England again. By 45 runs. The MCG is also the place where the first ever one day international was held. And the 1992 World Cup Finals. Oh and yes, the 1956 Olympics.
Besides which, it has a long history. Its a grand kinda ground. The locals call it “The G”. I’ve never been there myself but people who have say that its a great experience. Madonna performed at the ground in 1993. She dubbed it “the G spot”…
This here is a first hand picture of the Keith Miller statue at the G. Its taken by David McMahon, who is a Melbourne based journalist (and was part of that special crew that used to be Sportsworld when I was growing up), is justifiably one of the better read bloggers out there and certainly the most prolific, an internationally published photographer and author of the bestselling Vegemite Vindaloo. (Thanks, David !)
Anyway, it was at the G that the real Test series started today. And so back to regular blogging it is.
First things first, India’s squad for the tour includes Sehwag. One can only assume that the rationale was of bringing guns rather than knives to the gunfight. The fact that Sehwag’s not playing (and will probably only play if someone has injury or serious loss of form) implies that there is inherent doubt of whether the gun’s loaded in the first place. So Rahul Dravid, (yeah that guy who won us the last Test series – our first victory over England in England since 1986) will now open (“he doesnt have a choice” said his skipper only half joking) with Wasim Jaffer.
And so, India bat deep with the top 8 with Test 100s (it could have been 9 had they taken the safer route with Irfan Pathan). The safer option would have been forgiven if one looked at the lack of preparation, the washed out game against Victoria, the fact that Australia had won all 14 of their last Test matches and all 8 of the last games played at the G.
India lost the toss, and the first session even though they probably bowled as well as they bowled at any time of the day in the first hour. But for a while now, the Indian bowling attack’s been underrated in Tests and winning two sessions on Day one of a series is a great start.
One series and a day after he became captain, I’m still unclear in my head about Anil Kumble’s captaincy and more often than not his first statement on getting the job comes to mind. “Better Late Than Never”. Waiting for the opponent to commit mistakes, getting into defensive mindsets early if opposition partnerships develop and such. And maybe thats just harsh, because as a bowler he’s decidedly more aggressive. Also, today – the opening partnership apart – the Aussies hardly got any partnerships going but that’s going to be the key in this series. How relentlessly we apply pressure.
Nevertheless, day one belonged to India. Even if the reason is that it did not belong to Australia. Or that we clawed it back from 135 for no loss.
Going ahead, India’s massive in-form batting lineup understands that 337 for 9 needs to be upped a bit because of runs conceded in the field and by the fact that we will bat last on this pitch.