Brisbane Test – Day 2 – Musings

Apologies everyone for the long gap between these posts. I’ve been following tbe Tests, but for one reason or another, haven’t written on them. This is an attempt to rectify that mistake. 🙂

Here’s the deal. You’re a kid who loves swimming. But because of x condition, you couldn’t do that for a long time. You felt frustrated at the conditions. Then, one fine day, you get to go to the nearest pool/river.

“I’m going to swim till the sun goes down, or till I’m yanked out by the arm,” you think to yourself, struggling to control your smile. As you get ready to jump into the water, you’re stopped by an older boy. Cue more frustration. He’s standing right at the edge of the water, blocking your way, pulling you back every time you try to jump.

You pretend as if you’re going back home, but the moment he gets complacent, you jump into the water. That first dip, you feel the water touch your soul. You splash around, beating down on the water with your arms, grinning in pleasure.

While not a direct analogy to the first two days’ play at the Gabba stadium in Brisbane, this kind of describes how I felt since yesterday morning till about the time T. Natarajan bowled Josh Hazelwood.

The frustration part is the injuries to India’s first and second choice bowling attacks. The joy at getting to go swimming is finding Indian bowlers pinning Australia down to 315/8. The next part is Lyon and Starc making merry. You know the rest.

In a logical world, Australia would’ve batted till Tea and declared at 551/6, or some such score. We’d all have been lamenting the injury epidemic that the Indian team is facing. There’d have been gloating from this or that guy from the Oz camp about “survival of the fittest”. But it’s almost like India have patented turning logic on its head.

Debutants against the opposition’s best batsmen? Why not?

Before the series, expecting India to even win one Test match was optimistic, given what we knew about Ishant and Kohli, and, to a lesser extent, about Rohit. But here we are, on the second day of the final Test match, with everything still to play for. How have India managed this? Like really, how? The mind goes back to Zaheer Khan dropping out injured – Melbourne 2003, Lord’s 2011 – and the subsequent pasting we received on each occasions. To weird selection calls (Noel David 1997, R P Singh 2011). Suffice it to say that when Shami’s arm was fractured, I’d resigned myself to 0-4. Yesterday morning, when I opened Cricinfo on the phone at 5:30, half-asleep, I found the team sheet taking a butcher’s knife to my sleep. Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin, both missing. Any last messengers of sleep were massacred when I noted Washington Sundar’s name on the team, and Kuldeep Yadav missing from it. Like, what? Why? How?…

There were mitigating circumstances, and given the injury epidemic, there really wasn’t any way one could blame the team management. My heart still went out to poor Kuldeep. A total of 0 matches for him since the T20Is started.

As incredible as watching two physically broken men batting 43 overs to save a Test match is watching an India B attack stopping the Oz on their own turf for 369. That too when India lost their only remaining out-and-out pace bowler to injury. India still made sure Australia couldn’t summon their Down Under Batting Juggernaut™.

Later in the day, Rohit Sharma showcased yet another chapter in his evolution as a Test opener. His dismissal was another of the day’s frustrating moments, and might yet prove to be the harbinger of doom. But after 36 all out, against this GOAT-candidate Australian attack, can we, in any good faith, overlook what he’s brought to the team? Look at India’s opening stands in the first two matches. 2 of the 3 openers looked shakier than a dude with 6 pegs on Friday night. We’re frustrated because he’s Rohit Sharma – he who can bludgeon any bowling attack – and not because he’s your standard issue international Test opener of the last three years.

A sample of what he can do:

Batting has been tough worldwide since 2018, owing to sporting pitches and well-rounded bowling attacks. Here comes this guy, after no cricket in almost two months, and plays 27, 30 and 20 overs respectively in his first three innings on tour. He may not have done his job as “Hitman” and as the senior pro, but he’s done what his stated batting position requires him to do, particularly in those overseas conditions. That’s a huge shot in the arm for this injury-riddled team. It’s also one of the many reasons why this team is flipping logic for fun, non-stop since Boxing Day.

India are still in the hunt to breach Fort Gabba. Until I’m pulled out by the arm, I’m going to keep swimming. I’m going to keep dreaming.

Featured image courtesy.

Thanks for reading.

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