Monday, December 15, 2008

The Chase: Victory at Chennai

First the bare facts. India beat England in the first test at Chennai by 6 wickets chasing 387 in the fourth innings after having conceded a 75 run lead in the first innings. The sensational run chase was kicked off in the most imperious fashion by Sehwag and the rest of the team built on the start provided by him. There were good performances all around by the Indian players except Dravid. Yuvraj Singh cementing his place in the middle order and Sachin Tendulkar scoring the match winning runs to reach his 41st century. It can now be safely said that the Indian team is on a roll and is looking good to replace the Australians as the numero uno in all forms of cricket.

However this victory was not about cricket alone. The test occurred in the backdrop of one of the most horrific terror attacks in the country. The England team had abandoned the one day series midway and left for home. It was a good decision as cricket was the last thing in anybody's minds when the commando operations were going on. However it was a much braver decision to return to the country for the test series. The matches were rescheduled but the fact that the match took place at all was considered a big victory for all concerned. The England team is easily the most admired team to have come to play in India in recent times. The match is easily amongst the best test matches ever played. And it was a perfect endorsement for test cricket itself. And the perfect finish was provided by Sachin Tendulkar, himself from Mumbai, scoring the winning runs.

Now coming back to the cricket. So many times in the past we have seen India buckle under the pressure of a big run chase in the fourth innings. In fact when the innings started, my expectations were a fighting draw at best. But Sehwag simply turned the game on its head with his audacious innings for which he rightly got the Man of the Match award. However more importantly, the others built on the start provided by him with support from Gambhir. Yuvraj and Sachin put the finishing touches with a huge partnership for the fifth wicket and ensured that the match was won. Sachin silenced his critics by scoring his 41st century and winning the game for India.

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