Jaffer shines as first Test ends in draw
Murky conditions forced Eng and India to call off play with the hosts 108 runs behind. Scorecardindia Updated: Mar 05, 2006 22:53 IST
From a cricket manic who loves and feeds on ODIs to a purist whose passion is to watch Test-only cricket, the kick-off encounter at the Orange city had everything.
Dominance of the home team to a counterpunch knockout by the tourists and finally a testy comeback by the hosts, one could not have wished for anything else.
After England declared their overnight score of 297 and set India a target of 368 runs - in an obvious move to flutter a wing or two in the rival camp - the home team looked to grind out the whole day with Jaffer and Dravid again weighing heavily on the English bowlers including man-of-the-match Matthew Hoggard.
After three hours of play, India had put on 92 runs and one had visions of first two dreary Tests in Pakistan.
Spectators were glad that their side was going to draw the match after being down-and-out for more than two days. But they were not on their feet... as yet.
In comes the post-tea session and all calculations go awry!
Team India showed the nerve and tenacity to go all out for the win, with Dhoni, Pathan and Sachin shooting ammos with blazing guns.
Needing 200 runs from 25 overs and then 150 off 17 overs and finally 108 from 12, the trio hit every Tom, Dick and Barmy from the England bowling attack, all over the park, inducing heavy perspiration from Freddie Flintoff.
But with wickets falling at regular interval and murky conditions interrupting play, the match eventually ended in a draw but not before bringing the stadium to light.
The crowd loved it and so must have the viewers, glued to their TV sets since morning, waiting for something to happen. India's last shot at churning the run-mill meant that the Test ended with both sides on even keel before the clash at Mohali starting from March 9.
With no result possible, India started off the last session on a flyer with Dravid shocking the opposition campby hitting the bowlers all over the park.
Jaffer became noticeably dormant but soon brought the crowd on their feet with his first ever century in his comeback Test and announced his return to international cricket after three-and-a-half years of anonymity.
Travel to the Orange city, clearly had been a boon for him!
Skipper Dravid, however was soon sent packing by a cracker of a delivery from Monty Panesar. Jaffer too fell on 100 that took 198 balls with 12 hits to the fence.
With two quick wickets down one would have expected that the rest of the batters will move into their shells.
But Pathan and Dhoni took on the bowlers, trying to heave the bowlers out of the ground every alternate ball.
Pathan in particular was murderous to the spin combo of Monty and Blackwell. Flintoff, under pressure, switched on to pace but that's when Dhoni got into the act. With 150 runs required off 17 overs, India were getting into the act and entertaining the crowd.
The former, however tried a biff too many and soon hauled out in the deep. He departed after a breezy cameo of 35 runs off 25 balls.
With Pathan gone, a slew of wickets fell. With 11 overs remaining and under murky conditions, both teams, England and India agreed to end the match prematurely with the home team 108 runs behind.
The first Test looked like grinding to an inevitable draw as Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid further frustrated the England team with their continually churning run-mill. The duo put on 130-run partnership for the second Test at tea.
Wasim Jaffer looked like a man-possessed as he kicked-off India's second session in assertive fashion.
The first ball he faced after lunch raced off to the boundary like a rocket while the third and fourth made a dent in the fence.
He hit his second-consecutive half-century and announced his intention to the opposition camp that he won't take any more biffs from the English.
Dravid amazed by Jaffer's run-charge adopted a defensive style of play to emulate the sheet-anchor role which further frustrated Freddie Flintoff.
With all early morning freshness evaporated, the seamers including 'Hurricane'Hoggard toiled hard without any conclusion. The spinners looked simply impotent.
The duo cruised to a hundred-run partnership with ease. At tea, India had piled up 131runs for the loss of one wicket with Jaffer eyeing his hundred.
Team India shortened the oddsin favour of a draw with a pugnacious 62-runpartnership for the first wicket between skipper Rahul Dravid and opener Wasim Jaffer on the final day of the Nagpur Test.
India's tryst, though was off to an awful start, with the hosts' could-be rescuer committing hara-kiri early in his innings.
Virender Sehwag's stumps were castled by Matthew 'Hurricane' Hoggard with the batsman on nought off 13 balls.
Although India had suffered an early damage, Rahul Dravid showed the Poms why he is known as the Wall. The skipper along with opener Wasim Jaffer grinded the English pacers with solid defence - topped up with occasional boundaries - to produce a recovery of sorts.
The duo put on a fifty-run stand, continuing their good form from the 1st innings. At lunch, India had played out a reasonably good session with the scoreline at 63/1.
Earlier, England declared their overnight score and set themselves up for a remote yet possible shot at victory with an almost insurmountable target of 368 runs.
AJ Strauss, AN Cook, IR Bell, KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood, A Flintoff (captain), GO Jones (wicketkeeper), ID Blackwell, MJ Hoggard, MS Panesar, SJ Harmison.
W Jaffer, V Sehwag, R Dravid (captain), SR Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni (wicketkeeper), M Kaif, IK Pathan, A Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth.
Hours of play: 10-12 hrs; 12.40-2.40 pm; 3-5 pm
Umpires: Ian Howell (SA) and Aleem Dar (Pak), Third umpire: I Shivram (Ind)
First Published: Mar 05, 2006 10:31 IST