A match analysis wouldn’t make it into the 3L&3S generally but this one is special. It is special for more reasons than one. First, it reminds us about why no amount of sex and violence that T20 cricket is can measure up to the sublime drama of Test cricket. Second, it captures very valuable life lessons around resilience and tenacity through the actions of India’s young cricketers, like the way only sportsmen can demonstrate. Last but not the least, for the eloquent prose that Siddharth Monga, perhaps one of the finest cricket writers to emerge on the scene in recent years, puts out. Monga sets up the piece with this:
“Ishant Sharma (whole series). Mohammed Shami (three Tests). Virat Kohli (three Tests). Umesh Yadav (two Tests). Ravindra Jadeja (most likely, one-and-a-half Tests). Hanuma Vihari (most likely, one Test). Rishabh Pant (at least half a Test). Rohit Sharma (two Tests). KL Rahul (not close to the playing XI but out of the series). R Ashwin has tweaked his back too. Cheteshwar Pujara is playing with a hand injury sustained in the nets. This is the known list of injuries suffered by the Indian team on the tour to Australia.
Everybody is sick of the bio-bubbles and Covid-19 restrictions. They have been away from home for close to five months. A man has missed his father’s funeral, another the birth of his child. A third made it to the birth of his child only because he got injured. They are asking you not to leave your floor in your hotel. You perhaps know the bigger picture. You perhaps know you are the fortunate ones to still have a lucrative job. Yet it can get to you after this long.
The only thing left to do then is to just go out and play the cricket, the only place where you can be free. There, too, is a random racist bloke in the stands calling you names.”
Then he takes off on how there couldn’t be two cricketers more different from each other than Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant, and yet they got together in a match saving partnership to achieve a common goal, in very different ways, sticking to what works for them best and in a way what got them into the team in the first place. And then the fluid yet hard hitting passages around the other partnership of the game, this time with both partners wounded – Hanuma Vihari with a torn hamstring and Ravichandran Ashwin with a broken back, playing out the better part of two sessions with no capability nor intent of running (supposedly the whole point of the game – runs). With this piece, Monga does a Rohit Brijnath whose piece
on the Sydney test is itself an ode to Test cricket.
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