Ever saw a kangaroo skipping a few hurdles instead of simply hopping across in a desperate bid to win? If not, then you must have missed the 2nd test match between India and Australia played out at SCG Stadium, Sydney, which was won by Australia to equal the Steve Waugh's record of 16 consecutive test wins in the unlikeliest of cricketing ways. In a nightmare come true for all the admirers of quality cricket, umpires rather than any of the players managed to grab the spotlight for their consistently sloppy decisions against the visitors along with quite a few unprofessional Aussie-isms which reduced the match into more of a cricketing farce than anything else.
1st Day: After winning the toss, Australia chose to bat which seemed like just the right decision to have been made. Aussies got off to a fidgety start though, with openers departing too early in the day but Ponting and Hussey brought in that much desired element of stability in the innings with a 92-run stand for the third wicket. Harbhajan Singh and RP Singh, however, assessed the situation well and made a strong comeback to claim 4 prized Aussies scalps in quick succession to leave the home team teetering on the brink of collapse with 6 wickets being lost for a score of merely 134 runs. Symonds and Hogg were, however, quick to realize the consequences and worked to put Australia on the top with an excellent 173-run partnership for the 7th wicket. By the end of the day, Australia managed to pile up a cricket score of 376 runs for 7 wickets after losing Brad Hogg to the deceptive swing of Kumble.
2nd Day: Continuing from where he left off, Symonds was at his belligerent best to remain unbeaten at 162 at the end of Aussie innings, while Brett Lee celebrated his half-century against India before giving in to a lethal piece of bowling by Kumble. Beginning with their first innings, India suffered an initial jolt in the form of Jaffer's wicket but after that it was the turn of Aussies to feel the pressure brought on by an indomitable display of batting from the Indians. The balance virtually seemed to tilt in India's favour as Dravid and Laxman showcased their class to outdo the best side in international cricket. Finally, Aussies managed to break the threatening partnership at the fag end of the day which only served to compound the problems of home side by bringing Tendulkar and Ganguly to the crease as India cruised to a cricket score of 216 for 3 wickets.
3rd Day: The third day saw the match turn upside down for Australia with Tendulkar looking unstoppable in his marvelous form and Ganguly providing some excellent support from the other end. The game soon changed complexion, though, after a flurry of 4 Indian wickets starting with Ganguly, followed by India's surprise package in the form of Harbhajan Singh who left the Aussies dazed by throwing his tailender status to the air with quite a few untroubled cricketing shots. He contributed a gutsy knock of 63 runs to his side. Soon, India ended up at 532 runs for the loss of all wickets but Tendulkar who stood his ground to celebrate an unbeaten stand of 154 runs. India gained a 69-run lead over Australia in the first innings. Australia started off with their innings at the fag end of the day and did not lose any wickets till the play was closed for the day.
4th Day: Closing in on the thin lead of India, Australia were haunted by the ghosts of first innings with a couple of quick wickets falling early in the day. It was, however, followed by a dominating century by Hayden in his trademark style which worked to balance the things to a great extent. It was yet again at the fag end of the day when Kumble struck to claim the wickets of Hayden and Clarke on consecutive balls to weaken the Aussie attack. Hussey was, however, going well which saw Aussies end the day the cricket score of 282 for 4 wickets.
5th Day: No one knew that the 5th and the final day of the match was destined to go down as an infamous day in the history of cricket. Continuing with their innings, Aussies managed to pile up a score of 401 runs against India with the help of Hayden and Hussey's century efforts which helped gain a 332-run lead over the visitors. Indians never got off to a positive start in the second innings, however, except for a half-century effort by Ganguly before succumbing to one of the freaky umpiring decisions against Indian players including Dravid and even Harbhajan Singh amongst others to make a mockery of the game. In a twisted end to the tale, India ended up losing up all the wickets with only a few minutes left in the day, slumping to a 122-run defeat against the home side. Australia rejoiced in their 16th consecutive test victory which, however, placed quite a few question marks on the professional credibility of their side.
As if this was not enough, later in the day, Match referee Mike Procter banning Harbhajan Singh for the next three matches on unproven charges of improper on-field behaviour with Symonds. The international cricketing community went in a tizzy, with BCCI, the governing body for the cricket in India, threatening to call off the tour if the suspension is not removed and the umpires, guilty of handing out wrong decisions against India are not removed from the next matches. So far, ICC has not heard the appeal against Harbhajan's suspension, although, in the latest development, Steve Bucknor, one of the guilty umpires have been banned from the next matches and it has been suggested that if the suspension hearing does not take place before the next match, India can play Harbhajan. Come what may, the grisly developments in this game have no doubt done great harm to the spirit of international cricketing, apart exposing the chinks in the armor of world champion side.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012