Border-Gavaskar Trophy: 4th Test, Day 3 - Performers of the Day
It was a series that brought out a lot of home truths. Starting with the fact that India were still a force to be reckoned with at home, barring a few occasional blips here and there, to the reality that Australia had been dealt a more than painful blow to their entire cricketing legacy.
The word ‘resistance’, often used to describe Australian cricket was the most heavily hit as most of the Australian players struggled to find their balance and their rhythm. Some however succeeded, outshining the rest in an otherwise mediocre display of cricketing skills. On the other hand, most of the Indians found their way back into their A-game and rightfully into the out-performers’ list with a stellar, inspired and a more than convincing cricketing aptitude.
Cometh the moment, cometh the man. This phrase could have been rightfully penned for Ravindra Jadeja in the 2012-13 Border-Gavaskar series. Impeccable and solid, from the very beginning till the final moments of the series, it was Jadeja who gave the hosts extra reasons to be boastful about.
In the second innings of the fourth Test, Jadeja provided the initial breakthrough for the hosts, ripping apart Glen Maxwell’s stumps in the fifth over. Just a couple of overs later, he trapped David Warner LBW and went on to pocket three more wickets, taking his total wickets’ tally to five. His bowling stats for the second innings were – five wickets for 58 runs in 16 overs, with an economy of just 3.62 runs. The only blemish to his otherwise spotless series was the umpires’ warning about his unnecessarily loud exclamations after scalping the Australian wickets.
With the openers and the middle-order batsmen failing, yet again, it was Peter Siddle who gave Australia a much needed reinforcement. His half-century in the second innings gave the visitors some respite, helping his team to put up a decent total to defend. He also became the first No. 9 batsman in the history of Test cricket to score half-centuries in both innings of a match. With consideration being given to the upcoming Ashes, Peter Siddle will be one name that the Australians would be looking to lead their bowling in the Test squad.
Yet another half-century gives this Saurashtrian the distinction of being a through and through match-winner. His score of 82 not out also made him the second-highest run-getter in the series, only surpassed by Murali Vijay (430 runs to Pujara’s 419). His innings today was built with as much patience as it was with extreme class. Where in the first innings he was fluid, Pujara was much more aggressive in the second innings, not just making the best of the loose balls, but also continuously rotating the strike at will. Exquisite timing – a quality that has been the mark of many a past Indian cricketers – was the hallmark of Cheteshwar Pujara in the fourth Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Under fire for the past few months, Mahendra Singh Dhoni finally gave Indian cricket and the Indian cricketing fans innumerable reasons to cheer about. He lost four tosses in a row, yet got us the matches in the end; he proved that he had the ability to lead the squad to thumping victories. He was impressive behind the stumps with virtually no margin for errors and coming out as a batsman, got us the winning runs. Most importantly, it was Dhoni who got the best out of the team while channelizing his and his teammates’ focus and momentum right till the very end.
If these players led from the forefront, there were those few who provided the right support to these pillars, like:
He struck hard for the Aussies, but in the end his efforts came a little too late. His bowling figure of 7/94 was the most impressive – amongst both teams – though it failed to prevent Australia from facing a whitewash. Even so, Nathan Lyon did prove himself valuable to the Australian ensemble in the fourth Test.
He remained largely obscured due to outstanding contributions of Ashwin, Jadeja and even Ishant Sharma; but in the end, Pragyan Ojha made his presence felt by taking two important Aussie wickets. Matthew Wade, who was lured to step out of the crease, only to be caught by Dhoni and skipper Shane Watson, who was left rattled with a ball that he dragged onto his stumps after misreading its length.