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A thrilling Twenty20 Debut for India
by NT Shiv Kumar
Dec 03, 2006
When Ajit Agarkar bowls a wicket maiden first up in a biff and blast format of the game, you safely bet the stars are at last lining up for an Indian evening! The clouds of gloom gave way for some much-awaited sparkling moments for India to celebrate their initiation to the 20 over razzmatazz in the festive carnival settings at the Wanderers – that unforgettable venue where India had lost the World Cup within the first 20 overs of the game.

Zaheer Khan buried the ghosts of his last outing at the WC finals, denting the SA progress and yet again accounting for Smith who is fast emerging as his favorite bunny. Gibbs slapped a long hop from Agarkar straight to covers and though Kemp threatened to repeat his Newlands heroics, there wasn’t much of that in a sustained fashion from the batting line up that missed Kallis, Boucher and Pollock.

India’s fielding was sharp, catches were taken and except for Agarkar’s torn groin, nothing really fell apart for India even when Morkel hit Harbhajan for the biggest six on the Wanderers. 127 off 120 balls, with 10 wickets in hand, would have looked like a walk in the park for any team chasing but one did not dare to put the money on India despite the absence of Pollock, Ntini, Nel and Hall.

Tendulkar flattered to deceive after a couple of rasping drives but Sehwag looked determined to tell the selectors so what if you take away the vice captaincy- I will cut down my batting ‘vices’ and play a captain’s knock today- until Mongia’s wrong call truncated a potential match winning innings from the captain.

Mongia made amends for that, playing very sensibly and applying his learnings from the English county stint. When Dhoni fell for a naught, the proteas sensed a kill but Dinesh Karthik ensured there was no repeat apocalypse. He may not feature in the slogging hall of fame but his batting has been more cerebral than some of his peers like Kaif and Raina. He displayed not just his technical adequacies but also some intrinsic ‘smarts’- attributes that transformed Dravid from a loser to be amongst world’s best in the ODI version. Karthik is bound to go a good distance as a specialist batsman in both Tests and ODI’s; it may not be surprising to see him open in the upcoming Tests- an option Chappell would certainly love to toy with.

When 9 were required from the last over, the odds favored SA but Karthik’s mid wicket swipe off Peterson’s first ball must have prevented many a heart attacks in India. This last over win should hopefully reverse the losing streak, just as the last over drama of Bravo’s slower one to Yuvraj in the Kingston ODI had halted the winning streak.

Sehwag will go for the kill at Centurion on Sunday. And he will have the Bengal Tiger cheering him from the dressing room. Indian Cricket is sure in for some wild times ahead- both on and off the field!

 
More Views by NT Shiv Kumar
  Sehwag sizzler rocks Chennai
  India unearth ABC down under - Agility, Bench Strength, Cerebral Approach
  Dhoni says no to old age home, prefers young legs
  Opener Dravid crucial for India’s game plan
  Aussie Muscles Flexed by Indian Nerves
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