Sunday, August 07, 2005

Cricket at its best

Man !! what a match it was in the end...what a thrilling end to the 2nd Ashes test. Inspite of all the gutsy batting display by the likes of Warney, Lee and Kaspro against the hostile bowling of Harmison & Flintoff, england are right back into this Ashes series !! When the match started here on the 4th day @ edgbaston few would have thought that aussies would give any fight. But well i had a bit of hunch that they might just make it, with Warney at the crease, he has played some invaluable innings for Australia when they r in need in the past...incl. his highest test score of 99 when Australia were on verge of follow-on. He has been in good first class form scoring both of his first class hundreds this season for Hampshire. As expected england started with their 2 most effective and hostile bowlers Harmison and Flintoff. Warney quoted last night that "I hate losing, and will try to win. Lee is quite a good bat, n well Kaspro is due !". And alas these 3 almost did it for the aussies, well only ALMOST !! Flintoff and Harmison carried on their hostile bowling into the 4th day, giving both Warney and Lee a few bruises. Lee has been in firing line throughout the tour starting with the 20-20 match esp. against Flintoff. But both Warney and Lee took those bruises in their stride and kept fighting on...there were a few great shots in between including one thunderous off-drive by Lee off Harmison. Meanwhile Lee was gloved a harmison delivery over slips, Warney gloved another one over the keeper's head. Once Warney was hit on the leg by Flintoff, he somehow managed to run a legbye on just one leg - only to find Mr. Billy Bowden declaring it a dead ball !! And he had to walk back all the way down to the striker's end !! That one can call a one lighter moment of the day among all that REAL SERIOUS CRICKET, well not lighter for Warney though, coz he was the one who was hit actually. Then came another moment of brilliance from the Man with the golden arm [for england], Freddie Flintoff, after being in firing line for quite a short ones from flintoff, warney decided to go back on a fuller delivery too, though the delivery went down the legside to keeper, but Warney went too far back and across to hit the stumps and give England a much needed wicket. And now it was down to Lee and Kaspro to score around 60 odd runs for the last wkt. They started well, a few short balls down the legside accounted for few useful byes, then a few good boundaries from both of them. 13 runs were scored of a hapless Giles over and target was down to 30. Vaughan got back to his 2 most reliable bowlers Flintoff and Harmison again. But Lee and Kaspro delt with all the blows and short pitch stuff with aplomb. Slowly and steadily the Aussies got closer and closer to the target. Lee was hit brutally on his arm-guard by Flintoff. But like a real warrior he stood up and picked up the bat again, to restart the aussie battle against the expected. On the other hand Kaspro almost guided a wide ball outside the offstump to the third man, Simon Jones dived and got both hands to the ball but spilled the chance. At that time 15 were needed, and it looked Jones had dropped the match and probably the Ashes when Lee hit a boundary of the very next ball, that was a no-ball too. And the target was down to single digit - 9 runs ! But in the end Flintoff and Harmison kept their cool. Flintoff bowled a fine over to Lee barraging him with some fiery short-pitch stuff. Harmison followed it up in the next over with a brutal delivery which Kaspro tried to duck under, but somehow just managed to get his glove onto it, which Geraint Jones too gleefully. And the fine fine battle of the Aussie tail of Warney, Lee and Kaspro against all the odds finally came to an end just 2 runs short of one of the most astonishing victories of all time.

Well i surely will remember this day for long, an amazing day of test match cricket. After 3 great days of test cricket this surely was an icing on the cake. This Ashes battle has surely lived upto all its hype. England were down and almost out after the thrashing at Lords, but they got a lifeline just before the start of the 2nd match with one of their biggest tormentor Glenn Mcgrath getting injured in a freak incident. But still they have to do the job, and their another tormentor Shane Keith Warney was still around. And they surely did it in some style thrashing 400 odd runs on the first day. Warney tried to do his best with 4 wkts in first innings and 6/46 in the second and not to forget the crucial 42 runs in the 2nd innings. But that wasn't enough to prevent a Flintoff-driven England from winning. Flintoff had a dream match, which he surely will remember for ever - 2 half centuries in match (incl 9 sixes !!), 7 wkts and 2 catches. For last one and a half years he has been the man Vaughan has gone to when he needs a wkt and he has almost always done the job for him. But in this match he supported it well with his batting too, that too against the World Champions. All n all it was a great match, one to remember for a long time. And the fighting [never-say-die] spirit that the aussies showed in the end, scoring over 100 for the last 2 wkts just emphasises the reason WHY they are my favourite side. They just dont give it up easily. Someone has to play really really well to beat them, some out of the skin performance like that of the Freddie Flintoff. Well but england too have shown a bit of that character in the series. This all lines up for an even more exciting series ahead.

A 10-wkt haul in this match has left Warney on 599 wkts. And i believe with this mez gonna lose the bet that he will pick up KP as his 600th wkt. With Mcgrath not around i believe he will be the one picking up top-order wkts as well [esp of Strauss :) ] and KP bats at no. 5, so unless Lee picks up the top order early Warney won't get KP as his 600th wkt. Well i hope and i know Aussies will bounce back :)

Over to Old Trafford..
Over for now...

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