Record Book – Jayasuriya pulverises India with a one-man show

   That Sanath Jayasuriya relished playing against India throughout his career is well known. He delivered his best performance against them back on October 29, 2000 in what was the final of yet another triangular Champions Trophy held in the desert state of Sharjah. Zimbabwe were expectedly eliminated, thus setting up a summit clash between India and Sri Lanka. 

  Sri Lanka had been unbeaten in the four games thus far in the tournament, while India managed two scratchy wins over Zimbabwe. Just two days prior to the final, the wily Muttiah Muralitharan had grabbed 7/30 to  help his team condemn India to a 68-run defeat. India were the underdogs going into the final as a buoyant Sri Lanka looked to round off their unbeaten run with a flourish.

  India ran into a marauding Jayasuriya, then the captain, on the big day and his innings flattened them to the extent that they ended the match with two utterly dubious records to their name. Sri Lanka chose to bat, and except for Jayasuriya, the top order came a cropper. India were dictating terms with the Lankans at 116/4 in 28 overs – the only hitch was Jayasuriya, who was just preparing to up the ante.

  All he needed was a willing ally, who came in the form of Russell Arnold. Jayasuriya had already crossed 70 when the fourth wicket fell and he took his time to reach his century, which came off 118 balls. But later he launched into an assault Sir Viv Richards would have been proud of – indeed he went on to equal the second-highest ODI score, made by none other than Richards himself in 1984

Image   The Matara Marauder celebrates yet another milestone during his awe-inspiring knock (source – msn.com)

   His final 89 runs came off a mere 43 balls and together with Arnold (52*), he put on 166 at more than eight an over for the fifth wicket (Arnold contributing less than 25% of it) to transform a struggling Sri Lankan innings into a boundary-hitting fest.

  There were still eleven balls to go in the innings when Jayasuriya was out stumped, for a massive 189 off 161 balls with 21 fours and four sixes. A further stay would have most certainly led to the first ever ODI double hundred – which eventually came almost ten years later from the man upon whom the task of chasing the total of 299/5 largely lay. 

  Sachin Tendulkar had fond memories of Sharjah, courtesy his famous ‘sandstorm’ knocks in 1998 against Australia and was in good touch in the lead-up to this final, having stroked a breezy 61 in the preceding ‘Murali’s Match’. But Jayasuriya had inflicted serious psychological damage on the Indians – seldom has one man made such a huge difference to the pattern of a one-day game.

   Even Tendulkar gave up the fight early in the chase, joining skipper Sourav Ganguly in the hut with the score 10/2 – both falling to Chaminda Vaas. That was that then, but the manner in which the rest of the batsmen capitulated was shocking. Vaas was virtually unplayable that day and mopped up the top order to have India reeling at 19/4.

  Muralitharan (3/6) was introduced into the attack, and he kept things boiling. The last recognised batsman Robin Singh was out for 11 – the highest score in the innings, with the score reading 44/7 and India staring at a humiliating defeat. It didn’t take long to come, with Vaas finishing the innings off to return 5/14.

  India were shot out for 54 in 26.3 overs – their lowest ODI total ever and then the third lowest ever. Worse still, the crushing 245-run defeat margin was the highest ever, until it was left behind three years later. True, India were hardly masters at chasing big ODI totals at that time while Sri Lanka were unbeaten throughout the tourney.

  But the manner of this defeat was painful, especially after having Sri Lanka in a difficult position earlier on. It therefore took just one man’s blasting performance to completely turn the game around and shatter India’s confidence. Jayasuriya ended up with 413 runs in the series and was named Man of the Match and Series. His 189 is still the highest ODI score by a Sri Lankan.

  While Vaas can be credited with ripping through India’s top order, the actual damage was done by Jayasuriya, from whose assault India could never recover and ultimately succumbed to their most embarrassing ODI defeat. 

Match Scorecard

             

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT – Vallance Jupp’s bitter-sweet record

  Getting ten wickets in an innings is a feat every bowler dreams of – very few get to achieve that in their career. Getting ten in an innings, and top scoring with the bat in both innings – that is the stuff of fantasy. Vallance Jupp of Northamptonshire achieved this remarkable feat for his county in the 1932 Championship. How he would have wished to inspire his side to a thumping victory…

  Northants, who were flirting with the bottom of the table, came to Tunbridge Wells to face Kent, following a satisfactory draw against Somerset. Jupp scored a brilliant 163 in that game before getting out hit wicket. But Kent were a different proposition, with the likes of Les Ames and Frank Woolley in the ranks. Ames duly smashed 149, and Woolley 52, as Kent posted 360 on the first day, after winning the toss. Ames put on 194 for the 7th wicket with Thomas Pearce (83) to rescue the home team from the depths of 164/6. However, the man who stole the limelight in this innings was Jupp, aged 41. He could bowl both off-breaks and medium-fast, and worked his way to an amazing 10/127 in 39 overs, and he must have surely hoped that this would inspire the batsmen to rise to the occasion as well. 

  So much for hope. Leg-break bowler Alfred Freeman wrought havoc on the struggling visitors, claiming 8/44. Jupp, in at No.5,  added to his legend by top-scoring in the innings, making 34 out of a paltry total of 97. On the third and final day, Northants started their second innings, needing a miracle to stave off Kent’s victory bid. Freeman, opening the bowling yet again, reduced Northants to 8/3. Jupp strode in, and dug in again. With the score at 59, Jupp was 7th out for 32, Freeman (8/38 this time) bowling him to end his match. Northants were shot out for 75 eventually, and went down by an innings and 188 runs. 

  It would have surely been tragic for Jupp, especially with Freeman hogging the accolades completely. Jupp’s achievement would have been legendary, if only his team-mates had shown the same spunk. Instead, it will go down in history as the only performance of this kind in a losing cause. Northants eventually finished last-but-one that season, while Kent finished third.

  Jupp played 8 Tests for England, the last in 1928, and finished with 28 wickets. But his feat at Tunbridge Wells will always depict in the record books, as the sailor who gave his crew a fighting chance for survival, only for the crew to leave him standing alone on the burning deck, twice over. 

Match scorecard – http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/14/14345.html

VIEWPOINT – The rankings story

 ImageSouth Africa celebrate after scaling the summit (source – dailymail.co.uk)

  England saved their best for the fag end of the recently-concluded three-Test series against South Africa, but it was not enough for them to cling on to their crown for a bit longer. The South Africans, perennial chokers in many a limited-overs tournament, staved off the late English challenge to script a worthy victory at Lord’s to be deservedly crowned as Test champions, under the leadership of their record-breaking captain Graeme Smith and coach Gary Kirsten, who interestingly became the first coach to lead two different nations (he was coach of India in 2009) to the top of the test table. Few would disagree that this South African unit has been the most deserving of the handful of Test teams who have occupied the top spot ever since Australia began to decline. Let us go down a few years and scrutinise the other teams who have held the top spot.

Australia’s Decline 

  For many, the retirements of a clutch of top players from the Australian team after the 2006-07 Ashes threw open the field to other challenging sides. India hoped to stake an early claim, and even won the series in England in 2007. But losses in Australia and Sri Lanka over the next year hampered their progress, and Australia managed to hold on to their coveted pole position. In 2008-09, India silenced Australia at home, and this win made India believe that they could indeed be the Test champions in the near future. Later that season, South Africa tamed the Aussies in their own backyard, and leapfrogged both Australia and India to occupy the top spot, albeit briefly, as they succumbed to a home defeat when Australia paid a return visit a few months later. India, meanwhile hardened their case, by winning the series in New Zealand. England suffered a series defeat in West Indies during the same time, and lost a chance to move up the lad

India’s wobbly stay at the top 

  Both South Africa and India hardly played any Tests at the start of the 2009 season, whereas Australia visited England, and ended up surrendering the Ashes. This ensured that Australia slipped down again, and South Africa were back on top. This also signalled England’s intentions to be a strong contender to scale the summit. But India were breathing down South Africa’s neck, and scored a home series win over Sri Lanka to be the top dogs in Test cricket for the first time, whereas South Africa and England settled for a drawn series during the same time.

  India, though, hardly looked comfortable at the top, and were more than twice involved in must-win situations to hold on to their spot. They could only draw the series against South Africa at home late that season, and followed it up with two drawn affairs in Sri Lanka and South Africa the coming season, each time having to square the series after an early loss to somehow stay at No.1. In between in 2010/11 they won at home against Australia and New Zealand, but their overseas showings were sketchy to say the least. 

ImageIndia – tigers at home, kittens abroad

 England surge, then stumble 

  India arrived in England in 2011, still as the top Test team, and riding on the back of an unconvincing 1-0 win in the West Indies. What followed was disaster, and all the fears of India being comfortable only at home were confirmed in the series, which ended in a 0-4 walloping for the visitors. India had reached the top primarily through home wins, and wins over lesser opposition. A determined England exposed the frailties in the Indian ranks, and jumped to the top of the table for the first time. Later in the season, India further sank to abysmal depths, with a similar whitewash in Australia, and the days of being Test champions seemed long gone. India’s performances showed that they were the team, who perhaps least deserved to be at the summit. 

  England too hit a roadblock immediately after their glorious summer. Pakistan, who were until now silently winning the limited number of series they got, made a statement by whitewashing England in the Gulf in early 2012. The Test table had become a level-playing field, with teams winning with ease at home, and succumbing tamely abroad. England managed to secure a draw in Sri Lanka to hold on to the title, saw off West Indies at home and became all set to await the challengers from South Africa.

Image     England – bit the dust in the Gulf

  South Africa finally back to where they deserve to be 

  In the scramble for Test supremacy, it was always a case of so near, yet so far for South Africa, as they had missed many opportunities to win series after taking an early lead. After losing to Australia at home in 2009-10, they drew in India in the same season, and a year later drew at home against India, and again at home against Australia – all after taking a series lead. Late last year, they also lost a Test at home to Sri Lanka for the first time.

  But behind the inconsistency, lay a fact that none of the other teams could boast of – South Africa had lost an away series back in 2006, and had the best overseas winning ratio among all teams – a very important catalyst in easing their road to be the Test champions. Under an excellent captain and an inspirational coach, the South Africans set foot in England with a burning desire to topple England off their perch, and achieved their goal, first by thrashing the hosts in the first Test, and rounding off with a thrilling win in the third. 

  India hardly looked champion material, while England’s stay lasted a scratchy one year. Possessing perhaps the most complete Test unit in recent times, it is South Africa who indeed look good to remain at the top for the long haul. After quite some time, there seems to be a team who can be actually worthy enough of the crown. However they will have to face a stern test -next up is the tour of Australia, where Smith will be up against an equally fierce captain in Michael Clarke, who is commendably building up a potent team in a bid to regain their Aussie pride of the 2000’s.

  A win for South Africa there will further enhance their claim as a true top-ranker, but a loss will dent them a lot – and the mad scramble for Test supremacy will perhaps, begin all over again, and at such times, the need for a World Test Championship will be so badly felt!

IN FOCUS – V.V.S Laxman, the elegant champion of Test cricket

  Indian cricket became poorer for the second time this year, with VVS Laxman following Rahul Dravid into the sunset of retirement. Laxman’s announcement came as a surprise to many, especially since he was picked for the home season-opening two Test series against New Zealand, and the fact is that he was also given a chance to play for the last time at his home ground in Hyderabad. But being the dignified person he is, Laxman decided to quit cricket with ‘immediate effect’ after serving the nation in 134 Tests, leaving behind a legacy, which included memories of once-in-a-lifetime performance – the epic 281 which was instrumental in instilling a new winning belief in Team India at the start of the previous decade.

  Laxman had a wonderful ability to quickly adapt to tough situations. Which is why, many of his memorable knocks have come in intensely crisis situations. Rewind to Kolkata 2001, where Laxman came up with a showing which has been unmatched. He came in at one drop in the second innings, instead of his customary number 6, with India 222 in arrears and staring at a tame series surrender. When Tendulkar and Ganguly were also out, India 42 behind with 6 wickets left. But Laxman was in his element, and all he needed was some solid support – he got it through Dravid, with whom he had swapped positions from the first innings.

  What followed was the catalyst in India’s future Test fortunes – the duo put on 376 for the 5th wicket to pulverise the world champions into a submission of shock. Never has there been a partnership which has impacted a team’s winning pattern so drastically, and never has there been a knock which has singularly put fear into the invincible Australians of yore. Laxman had achieved that, his 281 being the highest score by an Indian at that point. Laxman’s marathon innings squeezed the confidence out of the Aussies, and they succumbed to a defeat minutes before stumps on the final day. India went on to win the series (Laxman scoring 65 and 66 in the third test at Chennai), and Australia had discovered that there was indeed, a man who could more than measure up to them. In fact, a warning had been sounded a year back, when he scored a classy 167 at the SCG in a losing cause.

ImageLaxman during his epic 281 – an innings that made India believe

  Since then, Laxman went on to become a modern day great, establishing himself as one of the pillars of the successful Ganguly-Wright regime. When India toured Australia the next time after the painful 0-3 debacle in 1999-00, there was an actual belief that India would square up to Steve Waugh’s men. That India took a lead in the second Test, and eventually drew the series was a great achievement, and Laxman continued to build his reputation as Australia’s arch nemesis. He became part of yet another mammoth partnership with Dravid, putting on 303 to rescue India from the depths of 85/4 to 523 in reply to the host’s 556 at Adelaide, and eventually onto a famous victory. Unlike Kolkata, it was Dravid who was the chief contributor (match total of 305), but India’s win would not have been possible without Laxman’s gritty 148. Yet another huge stand followed (353), this time with Tendulkar (241) at Sydney in the final drawn Test,  Laxman carving up a stylish 178.

  Laxman made his Test debut in 1996-97 at Ahmedabad, and instantly made an impression with a vital 51 in the second innings as India saw off South Africa by 64 runs. Due to his tendency to bat lower down the batting order most of the times, Laxman developed the art of making crucial 50+ scores, often batting brilliantly with the tail to either rescue his team or lead it to victory. The finest example of it came in as recently as 2010-11, where Laxman battled pain and injury to steer India to a memorable, thrilling one wicket win against – Australia of course.

  After coming in at no.10 in the first innings due to injury, Laxman came in at no.7 in the second dig, with India tottering at 76/5 on the final day in pursuit of 216. Wickets continued to tumble, and India were reeling at 124/8. Even a Laxman special couldn’t have rescued India. But it did, as he found support in Ishant Sharma, with whom he added 81 for the 9th wicket, before guiding last man Pragyan Ojha like a true senior statesman, as India won under an atmosphere of unbearable tension. Laxman’s 73 was one of the greatest knocks given the situation. Interestingly  his 73* took only 79 balls, depicting a pleasant aggression which hardly anyone noticed while the thrilling chase was on.

  ‘These situations bring the best out of me’, said Laxman. And rightly so, cometh the hour, cometh the (Lax)man. Alas that was among the last of Laxman’s best that fans were to witness. The 2011-12 season was a harsh reminder to him, that the reflexes had slowed down, and that his fitness issues were glaring than ever before. He could accumulate only 337 runs in 16 innings in England and Australia, a India hurtled to losses in each of the games. In between, Laxman soothed his nerves at home with a few good knocks against the West Indies, and was expected to produce one final fling in his ‘other home’ Australia. But it was painful to watch Laxman head back to the pavilion time and again. The man who had McGrath and Warne at his mercy ten years back, was finding the likes of Pattinson and Lyon too hot to handle. The swansong had come earlier than expected. 

  Though he was selected for the upcoming New Zealand series a few days back, Laxman would have never been comfortable, with critics baying for his ouster. being the team man he is, he gracefully accepted his time was up. His Test average of 45 does not really reflect his worth in the Indian team, because most of his innings could hardly be measured by numbers – it was more to do with the grit and tenacity of the man. Except for the number 281 of course, which in my opinion is the greatest innings to played in the modern era.

GUEST SECTION – It all started at Lord’s : Andrew Strauss special

  When Andrew Strauss led England on to the Lord’s, it was his 100th test match for England. What makes it better is that its at the same venue when he scored century on debut against Kiwis in 2004. 

THE BRIGHT START Andrew Strauss had a very bright first year in international cricket hitting 4 centuries in 9 tes

Andrew Strauss after scoring his century on debut

t matches. He top-scored in the series win in South Africa in Basil D’Oliveira Trophy scoring 656 runs for his side including 3 centuries an unbeaten 94 @ 72.44 to be named Man of the series. 

THE 100-TEST ENGLISH CLUB The English 100-test club just got a 9th member. The list consists of Alec Stewart (133), Graham Gooch (118), David Gower (117), Mike Atherton (115), first English to cross 100 tests – Colin Cowdrey (114), Geoffrey Boycott (108), Ian Botham (102) and Graham Thorpe who played exactly 100 tests.

STRAUSS THE SKIPPER Half of Strauss’ matches have come as captain. He has led them to impressive 24 wins and 10 draws. He is 3 wins short of becoming England’s most successful skipper taking it from Michael Vaughan’s 26 wins from 51 matches 

THE PARTNERSHIP Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook had formed a formidable partnership at the top scoring 5248 runs together in 131 innings with best of 229 with 14 100-run partnerships. Strauss has shared over 1000 runs in partnerships with others as well – Marcus Trescothick (2670), Ian Bell (1168), Jonathan Trott (1164) and Kevin Pietersen (1037).

THE DEBUT : 112 & 83 – The 1700th test and Andrew Strauss makes his debut at Lord’s in May 2004. Kiwis manage 384 in high-scoring match after batting first when Strauss walks out with Marcus Trescothick and starts with 190-run partnership. Strauss’ knock helped England take a lead as they put 441 on board. England had to chase 282 after Kiwis were out for 336, and Strauss guided with a 83 with skipper Nasser Hussain hitting an unbeaten ton.

THE HIGH SCORE : 177 – Strauss was out for a duck in 3rd & series-deciding test at McLean Park, Napier as visitors

Andrew Strauss completes his century while scoring his career-best 177 in 2008

managed 253. Sidebottom brought them back with a 7-wicket haul as Kiwis were bundled out for 168. Strauss added more misery on hosts scoring 177 to take the total to 467 as Kiwis was set a target of 553 but managed 431 as they conceded the series 2-1.

VIEWPOINT – The Irish conundrum

  The International Cricket Council (ICC) are always trying hard to make us believe that they are constantly striving hard to develop the game, and spread it to all the corners of the world. They take pride in announcing development programs, which, we would all like to believe, are actually for the betterment of the lower-rung nations. But the truth is, the thinking of the ICC remains to be myopic and hypocritical; because the issue of Irish players being poached by big bully England is being frowned upon by almost everyone who loves the game, except the ones who claim to love it, as in reality all they care for is the moolah.

  The clamour for Test status for the spirited Irishmen has gained momentum again, following Boyd Rankin’s decision to pursue only county cricket, in the hope of being selected by England for Tests. Rankin, a tall fast bowler, was a vital part in Ireland’s rise in the past five years. But now, thanks to an archaic rule that absurdly still considers Ireland as one of the counties; Rankin has followed in the footsteps of Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce, into the English camp.

  While Morgan is very much a part of England’s limited-overs plans, Joyce wasted four years (another absurd rule), after England forgot about him, and he returned to his native team in 2011. Imagine the pangs of betrayal that an Irish fan will feel, when Kevin O’Brien, destroyer of England in the famous World Cup game too decides to consider being poached by the unsatisfied Englishmen.

ImageIrish cricket : running out of support? (source – ecb.co.uk)

  While I have always wanted Ireland to be a Test nation as soon as possible, I surely know that it will take  some time coming. Ireland do not have a proper multi-day domestic tournament, nor do they as yet, have a stadium which can be packed to capacity for a Test match. But there are other factors which might be strangulating Ireland’s desire to be a Test nation in the near future. The general belief is that, India and England are the nations which do not quite like the idea of a eleventh Test nation.

  For England, of course, it will be the end of their poaching spree; while for power-crazy India, it will mean a possible reduction of the Asian bloc. And as we know, the ICC just cannot oppose India, no matter how poor India play, and no matter how genuinely the ICC is concerned for the game’s well being. With all respect to Bangladesh, they certainly did not deserve to be given Test status in 2000, on the back of a solitary one-day win against Pakistan in an inconsequential World Cup game.

  The results are there to see, even eleven years later, the Tigers are succumbing to innings defeat after innings defeat, although the sheer passion for the game in Bangladesh is certainly a thing to applaud. By contrast, Ireland have been consistent in associate competitions, have beaten four Test teams already, and have players who display their wares on the county circuit. If anyone believes that Bangladesh was made a full member just to strengthen the Asian bloc, then he has reason enough to justify that. India did play a role in helping Bangladesh get full status, but their apathy towards them is for all to see, with India not even agreeing to host their eastern neighbours even once for a Test series. Also, ICC’s indifferent attitude was seen in the way they handled Kenya, even after the Africans actually made it to a World Cup semifinal nine years back. And look at where Kenya is today, sadly. 

  I am not saying that Ireland should be made a full member right away, but there needs to be a plan in view. Three day fixtures against A teams of Test nations can be one of the ways forward for Irish cricket. However, sadly the ICC and the ECB are actually stunting the growth of Irish cricket, and are taking several backward steps by allowing the English side to scoop off the cream of Ireland’s best talent. This is downright cruel, and painful for Ireland and their bunch of spunky, spirited and passionate players and fans alike. The need of the hour is, that this unfair rule should be scrapped forever, because it is only making the full members stronger, and the associates weaker, and because it is completely in contrast with what is needed from the ICC; although it indeed in line with their usual hypocritical attitude.

  Rankin’s Irish retirement has naturally had the Irish Board fuming, and it has demanded a fast-track road to full status, or at least provisional full status. But no one is listening, and unless some common sense and morality is drilled into the ICC bigwigs, who congregate in 5 star hotels now and then to discuss ‘pertinent  issues (which usually is how-to-please-India)’; nothing will change.

  Till then, let us enjoy and admire the spirit of the Irishmen in the few opportunities they get, and let us just hope and pray that they do not go the Kenya way. 

GUEST SECTION – Cricket at the Olympics

  Indians have played at Lord’s many times, but coming here with a bow instead of a bat made it look different. It made Indians and many other cricket feels something is missing there and all cricket fans around the globe will be hoping for that gap to be fixed – that cricket returns to the Olympics. 

THE ILLOGICAL REASON We all know that cricket was part of 1900 games where just 2 teams took part.

Lord’s has reached Olympics.. will cricket get there too?

Both teams weren’t selected by national boards and French team contained English players. After that cricket was removed from Olympics due to a single game being too long. That notion is however  way too outdated and with t20 format, cricket has gone a step ahead. Each match can be completed in around 3 hours time, quite close to other events at Olympics. As seen in events like World T20,  3 matches can  held on a single day 

THE GLOBALIZATION The sports that are played in today’s OlympicEs are played across several countries. Today cricket has spread globally due to t20 cricket and IPL.  Cricket at Olympics will fetch the top teams along  with others and will be competitive enough for Olympic sport. It would be interesting to see if England would combine with Ireland and Scotland and West Indies split into respective countries.

THE UPWARD JOURNEY  Cricket’s reach will increase if it makes the games. During Olympics, people watch events like rowing, cycling and maybe others like canoeing, sailing, gymnastics or archery because they get to view it only at major events. The same thing could happen with cricket – people from outside the ‘cricket range’ could see the game and maybe later on follow it. Countries would also look at it as a chance and might send in their teams and it will result in cricket’s gain

THE ISSUES Cricket could face some issues if it reaches the big games. First of all ICC will have to dig into schedule

Cricket at 1904 Paris Games

which is already cramped up. It could be solved by removing some series from schedule. Another issue is that it shouldn’t go the soccer-way as countries play in u-23 players with 3 overage players. Other sports also find less following compared to events of athletics, cycling and swimming

THE BOTTOM LINE Cricket should definitely be tried at one edition of Olympics and then the decision should be made. Having cricket at the games will boost cricket’s domain and take the game to new levels.