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India v Australia, 4th Test, Nagpur, 1st day
Chappell: 'Why was Krejza left out?'
November 6, 2008
The Sachin Tendulkar-VVS Laxman partnerships sets India up, while debutants Krejza and Vijay impress
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'Sachin Tendulkar came along and did what he has been doing so well right through his career: he scored his 40th Test century' © Getty Images

All the spotlight was on the man playing his last Test - Sourav Ganguly - and the man playing his 100th Test - VVS Laxman. While that was going along, Sachin Tendulkar came along and did what he has been doing so well right through his career: he scored his 40th Test century, and in partnership with Laxman, he gave India the opportunity to post a really good total on a pitch that is already helping the spinners.

But first up it was Virender Sehwag who got things moving for India and boy, didn't he get things moving in a hurry. He took just 45 balls for his half-century and he had a very solid and confident partner in the debutant M Vijay at the other end. And importantly for India, Vijay ran well between the wickets with Sehwag. He was prepared to take the singles and I was extremely impressed with his debut. I think he has got a good future: he is confident, he was looking for runs and he ran well between the wickets. He was eventually out to a good piece of bowling from Shane Watson who has improved his bowling on this tour. He bowled a short one to Vijay and then followed it up with another short one that took the edge and Brad Haddin took the catch.

That triggered a bit of a collapse. Sehwag had gone after Jason Krejza, who was included in the Australian side, and he had belted the first couple of overs from Krejza and looked like he was trying to hit him out of the attack. The fall of Vijay brought in Rahul Dravid and with the form that Dravid has been in, he really should not be batting ahead of Laxman at this stage. But he was only there for two deliveries and fell to a good, bouncing delivery from Krejza. It was a good fightback from the offspinner after the treatment meted out to him to him by Sehwag and he got his first Test wicket in the form of a big name in Dravid. He followed it up by getting rid of Sehwag when a good field change from Ricky Ponting enticed Sehwag to try and run the ball down to third man and he inside-edged it onto the stumps. Suddenly Australia were right back in the game with three wickets down at lunch.

But from then on it was the Tendulkar-Laxman partnership that took the game right away from Australia. Tendulkar was playing confidently and it was only when he got into the 90s that he looked a bit different. He seems to have got the horrors of late when he gets into the 90s. I guess when you make seven of them in one year in Test and one-day cricket, you do get the jitters a little bit. The Australians helped him out with two dropped catches; the one dropped by Mitchell Johnson should have been taken and it would have been another wicket for Krejza. It wasn't to be and it was hundred No. 40 for Tendulkar and the tenth against Australia. He got terrific support from Laxman; that pair seem to love batting together and they really did make it look pretty easy. The ball was turning and bouncing for Krejza but that partnership took India to 262 before the fourth wicket fell: Laxman falling to Krejza as he was looking to cut the ball.

The second new ball was taken and once again it was an abysmal over-rate from the Australians. They couldn't reach their quota of 90 overs even though play was extended to 5 pm. Mahendra Singh Dhoni came in instead of sending a night-watchman which I thought was good, positive captaincy. He's there with Sourav Ganguly and I think probably a score of 400 will be the best way to win this match for India. The way Krejza bowled makes you wonder why the selectors have kept him out of the side, particularly when he was the spinner selected in the original squad while Cameron White was only a replacement. Krejza can be very proud of that debut. He showed a lot of courage and the ability to spin the ball and get it to bounce.

At 311 for 5, India are extremely well-placed at stumps and a score of 400 will put a smile on Dhoni's face.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a cricket commentator for Channel Nine, and a columnist

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Posted by Chris on (November 8, 2008, 2:45 GMT)

well Krezja i think is a just a one-hit wonder and got a bit lucky. a first-class average of more than 50? 0/199 in the practice? i would've picked white because fo his batting and dropping stuart clark at the start of the test?? foolish move but has it paid of? austrlia's next test i think is against new zealand is brisbane expect them to play 4 quicks plus watson/symonds and they HAVE to play noffke in brisbane. he's a very good player

Posted by Riyas on (November 7, 2008, 11:37 GMT)

I am very happy for Krejza's courage inspite of the onslought by Sehwag. Welcome to international cricket. Fielding department of aussies bit sloppy, which is surprising.

Posted by Ricky on (November 7, 2008, 9:57 GMT)

43 first-class wickets at an average of 50? The selectors must be mad. Eight wickets did you say ...?

Posted by Riley on (November 7, 2008, 9:29 GMT)

You have to question the Australian selectors judgement in not playing Krejza in earlier tests. 8 wickets on debut is a great effort even if they cost 215 runs. Look at Cameron White's figures - nothing like Krejza's & he's played most of the series. I can't remember the last test series when Australia's attack has taken such a ponding!

Posted by James on (November 7, 2008, 8:18 GMT)

It seems to me people are giving Ponting too much credit for team selection. I don't believe he has that much say. It is easy to say in hindsight Krejza should have played, but there is absolutely nothing in his first class or tour match record to suggest the case was compelling. Having said that I'm happy for 'Crazy' and I thought Ponting captained him brilliantly. Many captains would have taken him out of the action after 3 overs and the Aussies would be looking at 600+ (again). White was retained because conditions are expected to suit the spinners and Watson has been doing a more than admirable job of 'keeping an end tight'.

Posted by Ausram on (November 7, 2008, 4:02 GMT)

I am very happy for Krejza's courage inspite of the onslought by Sehwag. Welcome to international cricket. Fielding department of aussies bit sloppy, which is surprising. Great batting display by Sachin and VVS. I think it is going to be a great finish for this match. Good luck to Vijay who batted like his 20th test match. He has a good future ahead. Once again Ponting lost the toss. Good luck to him and the team to show a good fightback when they come to bat.

Posted by Vipul on (November 7, 2008, 3:19 GMT)

Going purely on the basis of stats Jason averages 48 runs per wicket at the first class level and hence it was a bit of a surprise when he was selected. He enjoys the reputation of being a big turner of the ball but in the tour game in india he had trouble even landing it and went for 199 runs with no wkts to his name. But boy , whatever little I could see on the various news channels of his bowling he certainly had the courage to flight the ball even when the batsmen were going after him and to induce a batsman of the calibre of Sachin to come down the track and play false attacking shots calls for a great deal of skill. Kudos to him ! Must admit that Australia is the only nation which understands spin bowling.

Posted by Anton on (November 7, 2008, 2:50 GMT)

ok although i can see most people here are enjoying a bit of a ponting-bashing session, lets cool it. the reason that krejza didnt get a bowl was his first class record and his performance in the tour match. obviously. the reason clark has been dropped is that he was very obviously not fully fit in the last game, bowling a lot of overs off a shortened run. its easy to blame ponting for being defensive, but he can only work with the team handed to him- blame has to fall on the selectors for giving him a part-time legspinner and an offspinner with a 50plus 1st class average when a decent chinaman bowler was available. also his field placings in this test have been nice and aggressive, keeping men up for krejza etc. oh yeah and for what its worth i would like to see haddin's place in the team reviewed.

Posted by Ramakrishnan on (November 7, 2008, 2:29 GMT)

Very good analysis by Ian about the state of the game.. However, I feel whether any captain would give a chance to a young spinner like Krejza particularly after he got hammered and went wicketless in a tour game. Probably, Ponting had more confidence in White especially due to his batting qualities. Dropping Clark to accommodate Krejza seems to be a foolish move by the Australian think tank. Though Clark had little success in this tour, he was the one who was able to plug the runs at one end. With regard to Brad Haddin, the Australian selectors should think hard. To expect Haddin to fill the place of Adam Gilchrist, is asking for too much. There appears to be a big task ahead for the Australian selectors in naming a winning combination for the future.

Posted by Nick on (November 6, 2008, 22:11 GMT)

Having seen Krejza bowl firsthand, as well as keeping an eye on his stats, I knew why Ponting was hesitant to play him; his first class performances have been quite mediocre. This is the state of Australian spin bowling. However, I thought he performed reasonably well. You can't expect a Narendra Hirwani debut all of the time, and I think that he is promising. Remember that Shane Warne took 1 for 160 in his first Test innings. As for Brad Haddin being a poor replacement, he is certainly not a poor player. He's one of the best batsman in the Australian first class system, and was a shoe-in to replace Adam Gilchrist. This is only his second series in the Australian team, and he still finding his feet at this level. I do agree that Australia could do with Andrew Symonds back in the team. He hasn't been performing well for Queensland, but he is a much better allround player than Shane Watson, who is really a batsman who can bowl a bit. This way, Australia can play Stuart Clark and Krejza.

Posted by David on (November 6, 2008, 21:17 GMT)

Perhaps Krezja not being picked had something to do with his performance in the tour match - 0/199 is hardly inspiring, nor is a 50+ first-class bowling average.

Posted by Peter on (November 6, 2008, 21:06 GMT)

Credit is due to Ponting though for bowling Krejza in the 1st session and continuing with him even though he was getting tonked. But Ponting needs to fight his defensive inclinations.

Posted by Peter on (November 6, 2008, 20:40 GMT)

I totally agree with previous comments about Ponting's negativity. Gone are the days where McGrath, Warne, and any two other half decent bowlers would be enough to bowl sides out twice. The new Australia need an extra bowler to compensate, and what do they do? Drop the only world class bowler they have, Stuart Clark. He has suffered because nobody bowling at the other end can keep the pressure on. He's bowled far better than his tally of wickets have suggested, but the weakness of the rest of the attack has let him down. Krejza, although buying his wickets at a premium rate, was refreshingly attacking. Cameron White has obviously been retained because Ponting is worried about his side's batting. There's no point scoring runs if you can't take the wickets - and he really should've packed his side with bowlers.

Posted by Omar on (November 6, 2008, 19:29 GMT)

I reckon Dravid should play a season (if a decent team is willing to take him) down in Australia during their summer. This will help him get his confidence back while playing against top quality domestic attacks-maybe even rekindle that fighter spirit.

This has two advantages: (1) It makes way for Rohit Sharma who is inevitably going to take over Dravid's position when he retires and will be a good learning ground for him.

(2) Dravid can come back, if he has regained his form, and play for another season (which, I think should be one of his last).

Posted by devarajan on (November 6, 2008, 19:16 GMT)

Dravid doesn't need a break. He deserves to be sacked. In his last 26 tests he has got just 2 hundreds that too one against Bangladesh and 6 fifties. He has scored less than 20 in 24 innings and not to forget his terrible scores like 12(126) in England at oval, 5(66) and 16(114) at Melbourne, 53(160) at Sydney, 11(64) Adelaide and 29(106) against South Africa in kanpur. Comme on Dravid why don't you retire.

Posted by Venkatraman on (November 6, 2008, 18:30 GMT)

He was left out in the first 3 tests since Ponting wanted 8 batsmen. Very attacking style of cricket that is. Ponting feels insecure with even 7 batsmen under Indian conditions and hence White played, since he is more a batsman who can bowl a bit. Now he is down 0-1 which calls for some attacking strategy, he plays his off-spinner. But instead of dropping White and keeping the one fast bowler who kept one end tight, he plays White and drops Clark. Why one may ask? Some may say because Clark did not take wickets in the first 3 tests. But White was not magical either (LOL). Clark was atleast economical and kept the pressure. Even then why Ponting kept White & dropped Clark? That is the question Chappel should ask also. Why, because Ponting is insecure going in to the match with 7 batsmen, so he wants White and drops his #11 (Clark). That is Aussie brand of cricket for you!!!

Posted by Mani on (November 6, 2008, 16:46 GMT)

The only reason I can think of sticking on to White was the batting depth. Australians thought an 8th batsman may come handy in saving tests. Purely diffensive approach which was well masked by giving him the spinner's role!!

Posted by Anand on (November 6, 2008, 16:31 GMT)

I would suggest that Dravid take a break from the game. Any one thats watching him bat at this present time can see that he is not in the right frame of mind. He is not been positive when he is batting and looks as though he lost that hunger for scoring runs. India has lots of young latent and choices that they could jump on with out missing Dravid in the present line up. The way the Indians are playing at this time, could get them to the number one spot in the world very soon. I like very much what I see in this Indian team but we have got to fix the weak links and not have the other players to take up the slack. With the English coming over on the 9th Nov. India must give some of the young guns an opportunity to show case their talent.

Posted by Aswin on (November 6, 2008, 15:51 GMT)

Yes Ian! Even I was wondering why Ponting delayed a deserving spinner like Jason Krejza a place in the playing XI. Having said so, it would be interesting to see how he progresses during the match. He looks to be a good spinner who relies on flight and guile to lure the batsman into giving away his wicket. To sum up the proceedings, the day has ended with the honours even. India have lost 5 wickets on a track that turned out to be a batting beauty, but looks to detiorate. I am wondering whether it will assist spin and reverse swing during the third, fourth, and fifth days. It remains to be whether Harbhajan and Sharma can get a better purchase from this pitch and get wickets. If India can score a total of 450-480 and bowl well, we can hope for victory. But having said so, India can never offer to be complacent. They have to play good and aggressive cricket on all five days to win this match.

Posted by Shruti on (November 6, 2008, 15:32 GMT)

Dravid is going the Kumble way.Out of touch and out of sorts.All in all a good day for India.Aussies need to polish the remaining five wkts. for 50-60 runs or else it is going to be India all the way.

Posted by Yenjie on (November 6, 2008, 15:28 GMT)

Agree with Chappelli on all counts. Dravid is probably resisting batting lower down to avoid showing a sign of weakness. He really should swap places with Laxman right now and work himself back into form, without worrying about his ego. Playing White in the first 3 tests, instead of the specialist spinner Krejza is likely due to the strangely defensive midset Ponting and the Aussie think tank has shown throughout this series. They are worried about their lack of batting depth and obviously White's been repeatedly picked for his batting - without much success. Obviously Ponting's feeling Gilchrist's absence badly, and Haddin's just a poor replacement allround. Even so, with Hayden, Katich, Ponting, Hussey and Pup as the top 5 with Haddin and Watson to follow, picking White as a backup batsman instead of the specialist spinner Krejza is indefensible. White's underdone as a test cricketer anyway. Without Symonds and Gilchrist, Ponting looks a whole different captain. Troubled waters ahead

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