If yesterday was a near perfect day, then add that to today and together they combine to make the makings of a very special match. That is two amazing days in the sun.
As it sits India are 267 behind with nine wickets in hand. We bowled them out 314 behind our score in the 95th over of the innings. I put that in a pretty straight forward way because it’s quite an amazing situation we find ourselves in.
After having our bums smacked in Hamilton, defeated by 10 wickets, we have turned it right around, on a very, very good batting track. We’ve given ourselves a chance to pull off a huge and special win. We’re not celebrating at all yet, but the thought is there and in the hard times that we will find ourselves in over the next couple of days, it will spur us on to go to the next level.
I didn’t have the best of days with the ball. For some reason I just didn’t have ‘it’ today. The rhythm wasn’t there, the snap on delivery wasn’t there (till later) and the result was consistency issues; I wasn’t terrible, but it just didn’t feel very good. My first spell today to Dravid and Tendulkar was not what I was after. First over a maiden the next went for eight; to straight and then to wide. And the majority of the rest of the day was similar. I couldn’t settle onto my normal lines and lengths and have a lot to thank the other bowlers for today. Martin was outstanding, Dan and Jeets kept doing what they started the previous night and Franky hit great areas all day long. I felt like the weak link today, and that happens, sometime you just got to take a back seat and watch the others perform; I didn’t bowl in the 2nd session of the day because of it.
Jeets got the breakthrough for the day, Tendulkar on 49, looking to push one into the off side to bring up his 50, it takes the edgy and Rossco, at slip, takes a special catch. Jeets takes off on a celebratory run out to deep cover, I think he was happy! Thoroughly deserved and appropriately celebrated.
Jesse got the next break through, his outstanding match continues. A short wide one and Dravid slashes, takes an edge and Baz completed a very good catch. I’d bowled plenty of those short wide ones today, and none of them even got close to the edge of the bat! The change bowler worked a treat and India was 246/5.
With the new ball taken and with Tommy (Martin) running hot we were treated to a special spell of fast new ball bowling. A seven over spell, taking three wickets for 29 runs turned our day dramatically. Tommy’s areas were great, asking questions with pace and a little movement with the new hard rock on the flat track.
I still wasn’t feeling great; I had the newish ball in hand and a couple of lower order batters to bowl at. What a great way to turn a day around. And then it all goes wrong, a bouncer that I didn’t bowl hard enough heads a long way over the boundary by Harbajhan, not the result I wanted. I thought I’d try him out again, this time making sure I got the bouncer up high, it worked and Tommy took a great catch at fine leg to give me my first wicket. The batters crossed and Khan was now on strike, hitting good areas was all I was telling myself. A little wide, this one, and he slashes at it, Jesse at gully, jumps and takes a screamer. India all out and we head back to the shed and then we’re all looking at each other; make them follow on or not, 314 behind, we have to, no other option really.
Tommy and I shared this new ball. These nothing quite like what a couple of wickets does for ones confidence. All of a sudden things were feeling really good. With two wickets in two balls to close out the previous innings, I was on a hat trick. The thing about being on a hat trick is that you want to give yourself the best chance of taking a wicket. So fullish and straight was where I was going. Sehwag hits it back past me for four; oh that’s right, he don’t care, he’s hitting everything everywhere!
I had the snap and bounce I was searching for all day long, my areas were tight and lengths good. No wickets for me tonight, but another one for Jeets. Sehwag looking to score freely from ball one again and spin, again, was the key to the breakthrough.
So as we head into Day 4 the team has a very good feel about it, we haven’t been in the field to long that the tiredness should affect us today. We have to hang tough to our plans and when we get it wrong get back to where we should be and let them make the mistakes. We have to keep our standards in the field and keep the energy up so that everyone can feed of it. One of the biggest days of cricket is just around the corner......
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