Sunday, October 10, 2004

Cricket: Aus in Ind 2004 - Day One

Today was Day One of the much hyped Test Series, dubbed as the Clash of the Top Two teams in the world and the Final Frontier for the all-conquering Australian cricket team (almost literally true after the SriLankans were banked 3-0 earlier this year).

Day One provided the opportunity for 2 cricketers at the opposite ends of their career to face the media. They were at the opposite ends of their tether as well, to judge by the outward appearances of Anil Kumble and Michael Clarke.

Kumble, who had been laid low by a flu virus and managed just six hours' sleep on the eve of the match, was tired but contented after becoming the ninth man in Test history to reach 400 wickets. Australia's boy wonder, Clarke, on the other hand, was utterly unfazed by his achievement in batting for more than four hours on debut to reach an unbeaten 76 (later completed his century on debut).

For Kumble, it was the third occasion he had brought up a landmark on home turf, after taking his 100th and 300th wickets here at Bangalore too. "It's just a coincidence," he shrugged. "Somehow it often seems to work out like that. I did start thinking about it as I got closer, but really we just had to get on with the game, and break that partnership [between Simon Katich and Clarke]."

Clarke, for his part, also admitted to nerves, although they were scarcely on show in the course of his innings. "It was great to get off the mark," he admitted, "but obviously the longer I spent out there, the more comfortable I became. Batting with Simon really helped as well – he's at New South Wales now, so it was great to spend time with him. He played really well, and deserved a hundred, but unfortunately he missed out today."

Katich, in the end, became Kumble's landmark victim, as he was bowled off an inside edge for 81. "It's a great honour to have 400 wickets," said Kumble afterwards, before setting his sights even higher than that. "Obviously the next target for me is another 35 wickets, to go past Paaji bhai [Kapil Dev], but it's more important to win this Test, and if I contribute to that then records will take care of themselves. I just want to keep taking wickets, and I feel good at the moment."

Tomorrow it will be Clarke's own milestone that takes centre stage, and if anyone has the self-confidence to get to a hundred on debut, it is he. "Yeah, I hope I can get there," he enthused. "I'll come back tomorrow, aim to put on a good partnership with Adam [Gilchrist], and hopefully get to a hundred."

Besides this article from, adapted from CricInfo, there were a few nice ones on why Anil Kumble is the greatest bowler for India.

Michael Clarke's was one of the most anticipated and delayed debuts.. He certainly is here to stay.

And, amongst modern day spinners, Kumble's stats against Australia (certainly the best players in the last decade) are better than Muralitharan and Shane Warne never has to bowl against the Aussies... but Kumble has reached 400 wkts faster than Warne (and McGrath too) !!

Late Addendum:

What a great job by Harbhajan Singh in his comeback match !! In his first match since December 2003 (where he played with an injured finger) he took 11, expensive nevertheless invaluable, wickets. Boy, does Anil Kumble have competition !?!

Looking at the spirited performance of the Indian tailenders, we hope that the others will wake up and with a few changes to the playing Indian XI we will be able to achieve that all Indians want.. Go India !!


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