Monday, October 6, 2008

BP XI gains moral victory in drawn match

The domineering Board President's XI punctured Australia's usual aura of invincibility in the drawn warm-up match, exposing numerous chinks in the visitors' armour ahead of the four-match cricket Test series.
Yuvraj Singh (113) lit up the morning session with his batting pyrotechnics, while Wasim Jaffer (93) was distinctly unlucky to miss his ton as Board President's XI declared their second essay at 292 for four, some 47 minutes after lunch.
Chasing an improbable target of 434, Australia finished at 127 for two wickets in 38 overs, with a serious question mark against their perceived invulnerability.
Ricky Ponting (58 not out) and Michael Clarke (36 not out) did get some runs under the belt and Australia certainly did a better job in their second innings but they were not convincing against the spinners, something that might hurt them in the Test series.
Ponting signalled his positive intent with three successive fours off Manpreet Gony but Chawla would often tease and torment him with his bag of tricks.

Among his teammates, Simon Katich (5) came a cropper again, while Matthew Hayden (14), returning from Achilles injury, could not dust the rust.
Meanwhile, both individually and collectively, the local outfit achieved what they came for. Their spinners mauled the Aussies, sowing the seed of doubt in their mind, ensuring they go into the series with lot of pressure on their shoulder.
The Board President's XI batsmen also exposed what Australia tried to hide that they are not the same bowling force in absence of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
The final day's play didn't see any change in the script and after Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha had exposed Australia's laden-footed top order's frailties against anything that turns, Yuvraj and Jaffer took the onus on themselves to prove that their attack lacked venom.
Barring Stuart Clark, the Australian bowlers cut a sorry figure as Yuvraj and Jaffer added 200 runs in 44.3 overs, their free-scoring rate revealing the respect -- rather lack of it -- they had for the bowlers.
Off-spinner Jason Krejza copped it most and Yuvraj was simply merciless against the rookie off-spinner, milking 47 runs off his 26 balls that also included some morale-shattering hits over the ropes.
Resuming on 110 for two, Yuvraj smote Krejza for a massive six to bring up his fifty and unleashed him on both the offie and Michael Clarke whose left-arm spin proved equally ineffective.
With Yuvraj on song, it rained sixes and fours as the left-hander overtook Jaffer and his century came in when he hoicked Clarke over deep mid-wicket.
Yuvraj soon fell to Clark but the damage was done by then and the left-hander had plundered 113 runs that came off 143 balls and was studded with seven boundaries and as many sixes.

Jaffer, at the other end, remained his usual self, poised and confident. Occasionally, Yuvraj's aggression rubbed off in him as well and the Mumbaikar reverse swept Krejza and also stepped out to find the fence on a couple of occasions.
Seven runs from a well-deserved ton, Jaffer fell to Clarke, rapped in front of the wicket and that was the end of his 159-ball vigil, during which he hit 12 boundaries.
First innings centurions Rohit Sharma (29) and Virat Kohli (16) showed the same nonchalance and looked in punishing mood when declaration was announced.

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