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Happy Diwali!!!
October 26, 2008, 10:57 am
Filed under: Festivals | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I Wish all my readers and other millions of Indians across the globe a happy,prosperous and safe Diwali .

HAPPY DIWALI!!

HAPPY DIWALI!!

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Harbhajan puts India on course
October 20, 2008, 11:11 am
Filed under: Cricket | Tags: , ,

Harbhajan Singh removed the openers after Australia were set 516 to chase Tea Australia

268 and 50 for 2 need 466 runs to beat India 469 and 314 for 3 (Gambhir 104, Sehwag 90, Dhoni 68*)

Backed up by a pile of runs – thanks to Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni – Harbhajan Singh dismissed Australia’s openers in a frenetic opening over to leave India on course for victory. Gambhir’s second Test century, his first at home, and Sehwag’s 90 took India’s lead past 400 in the first session of day four in Mohali, before Dhoni inflicted further pain on Australia. Dhoni followed up his first-innings 92 with a brisk unbeaten 68 and declared when India’s lead touched 515. Australia began in overdrive, but Harbhajan’s double-wicket over jolted them off course dramatically.

Australia’s bowlers struggled for the third session running and were frustrated by partnerships of 182, 42 and 66 on another day of Indian dominance. When the day began, Gambhir and Sehwag made sure the platform built over three days was not wasted. Gambhir finally converted a start into a second Test hundred, and first against anyone but Bangladesh. India scored at five runs per over to finish the first session firmly in control, with a declaration imminent.

Both openers found the gaps in the field with ease, as Ricky Ponting began with a defensive mindset. Gambhir treated the fans to some striking flicks through midwicket, and Sehwag was obviously looking to get on with matters. The ball didn’t always come onto the bat but Sehwag repeatedly tried to whip it away between midwicket and mid-on. Soft-handed drops in front of the fielders earned Sehwag and Gambhir cheeky singles, and the intent was clear. Brett Lee, who injured two fingers yesterday, did not bowl and Mitchell Johnson was off key, so runs came at a good clip.

Gambhir was fortunate to survive when a thick edge off Cameron White lobbed off the wicketkeeper’s pads and was spilled by Matthew Hayden at slip. There was nothing fortuitous, however, about a twinkle-toed six off White that sailed over long-on. Gambhir scored a number of his runs on the leg side and down the ground as the bowlers strayed in both line and length. Square-drives and steers through gully were also on view as he sped past fifty and towards a century.

Gambhir’s previous best in India was 96 against South Africa in 2004, and the wait for a hundred was over with another lavish clip past mid-on for four. It was a long time coming, and the form shown by Gambhir on return to the Test side will worry most teams. On reaching three figures he miscued an extravagant shot to mid-off, but few would grudge him given India’s position.

Dhoni smartly promoted himself to No. 3 – after Sehwag fell for 90 chasing a wide one – and asserted his dominance over the bowlers. He ran hard, hit hard, and displayed form that augurs well for India. Always looking to hustle the field – which remained spread throughout – he unveiled a selection of shots, some out of the Twenty20 manual. Michael Hussey served up a full toss, Dhoni punched past extra-cover for four. Lee dropped one short, Dhoni pulled to deep square leg. White tossed it up, and Dhoni cleared long-off. He added 66 with Sourav Ganguly, who was last out for 27 when he skied Lee to mid-off, after India’s lead reached 500.

Australia launched a spirited chase. From the first ball – slashed tantalizingly over the wide mid-off – Hayden’s intent was evident. Like Australia, India went with a defensive field but Hayden still found the boundaries. He drove Zaheer Khan past silly mid-off and then cut him behind point for two more boundaries in his next overs, but failed to curb his enthusiasm against Harbhajan. Introduced after seven overs, with Australia 49 for 0, Harbhajan trapped him from around the stumps as he went for an ambitious sweep across the line.

Then Simon Katich, who hit four well-timed boundaries, threw his bat at a wide one and was excellently held when Sachin Tendulkar at point, dived forward and plucked it an inch off the turf