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November 6, 2008
Disappointment of the day
What do you have to do to get a sizeable Test-match crowd in India? The Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) built a swanky new stadium, put a roof over all the stands, and had chairs for all of its 45,000 capacity. Ricky Ponting even said the stadium was "terrific" and yet there were fewer than 500 people present to watch the first ball of Sourav Ganguly's last - and VVS Laxman's 100th - Test. The only colour at the start of the match belonged to numerous empty rows of blue, green, yellow, pink and purple chairs. The fact the stadium is around 17 km outside the city and the poor transport facilities probably had something to do with it.
Confident start of the day
If you haven't been following the Border-Gavaskar Trophy news over the last few days you'd have wondered who on earth was facing the fourth ball of the match from Brett Lee. M Vijay's first ball in Test cricket was relatively harmless and he let it pass outside off stump. The next ball told us more about why he was playing this vital match. Vijay moved smoothly on to the front foot and punched Lee through covers to get off the mark. He played a similar shot in Lee's next over but this time he timed it well enough to score his first international boundary.
Worst appeal of the day
Lee appealing for lbw is normally a spectacle: he hits the pads, and extends his follow-through by running towards the batsman with arms up in the air in celebration. He turns around to face the umpire so late that it's almost an afterthought. His first appeal was in the third over - a few balls before Vijay's first boundary - and it fitted the description entirely but for one significant detail. The ball had gone no where near the pad, instead it had thudded off the bat towards deep backward point.
Even contest of the day
The giant screen at the VCA Stadium flashed "Best wishes Krejza" at the start of the 13th over, Jason Krejza's first in Test cricket. Facing him was the other debutant in the match, Vijay - an even contest between two lightweights. Vijay defended the first couple of deliveries watchfully but had enough confidence to land the first punch in Krejza's next over. He stepped out of his crease and lofted the offspinner cleanly over mid-on for four.
Uneven contest of the day
You knew it was coming as Krejza skipped in to bowl at Virender Sehwag. The first ball wasn't particularly bad - a flighted delivery outside off stump. Sehwag judged the length quickly and planted his front foot forward before smashing the ball over the head of the fielder at mid-off. The next ball was similar and this time Sehwag aimed for the long-on boundary and cleared it. Krejza's first three overs cost 32 runs but his day was about to get better …
Happy moment of the day
Despite the hammering he received from Sehwag, Krejza continued to flight the ball and his first delivery to an out-of-form Dravid brought a remarkably different result compared to his first against the Indian opener. Dravid lunged forward to defend but the ball bounced into him and he ended up jabbing it into the hands of Simon Katich at short leg. Krejza hurtled towards Brad Haddin and Katich in celebration. Test cricket wasn't such a bad place after all.
Shot of the day
The ball sped to the boundary frequently off Sehwag's bat during the morning session but the shot of the day came long after he was gone. It was the first over after the drinks break during the second session and Lee was in the third over of his second spell. The third ball was on a decent length and the line was on off and middle. Tendulkar, however, took a small stride forward, presented the full face of his heavy bat, and drove the ball between the bowler and mid-on. There was no flourishing follow-through of the bat but the timing was such that the shot didn't need it.
Missed opportunity of the day
Australia's debutants have had success against Tendulkar in this series: he was Cameron White's first wicket in Bangalore and Peter Siddle's in Mohali. That honour escaped Krejza when he dismissed Dravid but the debutant offspinner had a terrific chance to run out Tendulkar when he was on 74. Tendulkar pushed the ball towards cover and set off for a non-existent run. He had only made it only mid-way to the other end when Krejza picked up the ball and gave up by the time he released the throw. The ball missed the stumps and Tendulkar jogged past the crease while the Australians stood with hands on their heads.
Lucky landmark of the day
Tendulkar had looked on course for his 40th Test century in a couple of innings this series when he got out to soft shots. He was destined to reach the mark today and Lady Luck was sitting on his shoulder guiding him safely through perilous moments. On 74 he survived a run-out opportunity; on 85 he mis-hit Krejza to mid-off where Johnson perhaps had the sun in his eyes; on 96 he skied Krejza once again to long-off where the catch was dropped by Lee. He played out another 11 dot balls on 99 before reaching his hundred by cutting Krejza to the point boundary.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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