Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all-time and this last week he looked to an unlikely new sport.
During an event in Melbourne, Djokovic was joined by legendary Australian spinner Shane Warne, Australian women’s captain Meg Lanning and batsman Aaron Finch in trying his hand at cricket.
The trio helped Djokovic with his cricketing skills, with Warne bowling to one of tennis’ greatest players. As expected, the Serb struggled with the bat before using his tennis racquet to hit Warne into the stands.
What did you think of Djokovic’s batting and bowling?
January 18, 1998 was a memorable day for the Indian cricket team.
It was the day that India successfully chased down 315 in 48 overs in the third final of the Independence Cup against Pakistan to lift the trophy.
Batting first, Pakistan posted 314-5 thanks to centuries from Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed. Not many gave India much of a chance as such totals were uncommon in those days.
A 26-ball 41 from Sachin Tendulkar gave the Indians hope, and with Sourav Ganguly and Robin Singh adding a 179-run partnership for the second wicket, it looked like India were in the driver’s seat.
But a middle-order collapse, a regular occurrence for India in the ’90s, saw Pakistan regain control.
Saqlain Mushtaq was given the responsibility of bowling the final over and India found an unlikely hero as Hrishikesh Kanitkar smashed a boundary when three runs were needed from two deliveries.
Ganguly was named the Man of the Match for his superb 124, which included 11 fours and one six.
The question on most cricket fans’ minds today must be – how can a team lose a Test after scoring nearly 600 runs in the first innings? Bangladesh have demonstrated how to pull off that feat, managing to lose the Test in Wellington on the final day after scoring 595 for 8 declared in the first stanza.
A few days ago, we were all celebrating the stupendous 359-run partnership between double centurion Shakib Al Hasan and captain Mushfiqur Rahim, and rightly so. Bangladesh have made major strides in their game and have a talented bunch of batsmen, senior players and bowlers that can aim to deliver consistent results going forward. This defeat, however, will set them back and be extremely painful to swallow.
While there is much to talk about the poor mental fortitude of Bangladesh’s batsmen and their inability to see out a day’s play after dominating large parts of the Test, I see it as part of a growing trend in Test cricket where big first innings totals are no longer safe.
Since December, we have seen four instances of a team scoring 400 or more in the first innings and still losing the game. England did it twice against India, scoring 400 in the Mumbai Test and 477 in Chennai and losing both by an innings. Pakistan weren’t far behind, surrendering the Boxing Day Test to the Aussies by an innings despite declaring on 443 in the first outing. And the Tigers topped them all by grabbing defeat from the jaws of a draw against the Kiwis.
This isn’t an aberration but a by-product of modern day Test cricket where we are seeing a lot more results. Gone are the days where teams would score big and then look for victory, assured of not losing the match.
But with the increase in scoring rates, even if a team notches close to 500, chances are it would have used up less than 150 overs to do so. That means a lot of time remains in the game and the opposition can look to match the score and then leave it all for the final day-and-a-half, where a deteriorating pitch can play various tricks in the minds of batsmen who looked confident a couple of days previously.
Since scoring at a rate of around 3.5 an over has become the norm, batsmen now are not expected to learn the art of batting the entire day and just grinding the bowling down. If a batsman is out there for three sessions or more, he better have a substantial score next to his name. Batsmen now ‘get on’ with the game and therefore are losing the ability to score a fifty off, say, 200 balls.
While all of this makes for result-oriented Test matches, you also get instances of inexplicable results like the ones we have seen in the last two months.
So if you believe Bangladesh have stooped to a new low in cricket, please don’t. Because that’s how matches have been shaping up, and expect more teams to end up with similar results in the future.