Harbhajan Spoils New Zealand’s Party & English Underdogs

8 11 2010

Black Caps Miss Out

So close but yet so far for the Black Caps. Going into today’s game the Kiwi’s were handed a golden opportunity to do win the opening test match of their series. Sadly for them Harbhajan Singh and India’s man for a crisis, VVS Laxman (who else?!), ensured that this dramatic and unlikely turn of events was not to be.

The Kiwi’s can take immense heart from their performance – after all to bowl India out twice with a severely depleted attack is an immense achievement and one that Australia didn’t manage at all last month. Written off in the lead up to this test as distant also-rans, the Kiwi fighting spirit re-emerged in all its glory and for a while at least they had India on the ropes.

Part of the praise for escaping this predicament must be awarded to the pitch – a benign surface throughout the game – but the majority must go to Laxman and Harbhajan. We all know about Laxman of course – he has long been someone with a track record of pulling India out of a hole – but Harbhajan is also someone who should be recognised for the fighter he is and now, with this century, could arguably apply for ‘all rounder’ status.

Unlike his partner in foiling the Black Caps, Harbhajan has never been one of our favourite people. He has long been a bit spiky for our tastes, a little confrontational and certainly came across as an arrogant individual – yet that is not to say we do not respect his cricket hugely. Probably it is these qualities that enable him to be so successful in fighting India’s corner when needed and so, at least from his team mates and fan’s point of view, they are not necessarily a bad thing.

Special mention must go to Sehwag too for yet another study in how to make batting look easy; to Jesse Ryder and Kane Williamson who perhaps along with Ross Taylor, McCullum and Vettori can ensure a consistent supply of much needed runs; and finally to Chris Martin. Written off, derided as a distinctly average seamer and thought of as too old – he proved all his critics wrong with an exciting and crucial spell on the fourth evening of the match.

Either way we are pleased to have seen yet another absorbing test match and are happy for the series sake that New Zealand live to fight another day. Their success will hopefully have the effect of putting more ‘bums on seats’ in the next tests as well as proving to themselves that they can compete with the top of the table, India.

***********

Positive Start For England

A solid start for England yesterday as their opening tour match against a virtual second eleven from West Australia ended in a win yesterday.

Obviously sterner tests await (and it is important not to read too much into this), yet we can’t remember an Ashes tour getting off to such a positive start for many years… The Australian rite of passage usually involves a thrashing by a motley collection of current and ex-pros in the traditional tour opener at Lilac Hill (remember Harmison’s wides and no-balls in 2006) followed by tough games against near full strength state elevens.

Clearly doesn’t mean much being the first game and all that – yet with every positive result the fans (and media’s) expectations will inevitably rise.

We are here therefore to remind any English people reading this to not get carried away; to remember Australia are at home and hardly a poor side; to instead relish and assume the role of the underdog. It is a well known fact (as any superstitious fan would tell you) that this is crucial to the success of any England side when playing Australia.

 

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