The first cricket test played between India and England, during December 11 and 15 in the Chepauk Cricket Ground, Chennai, was unique and historic in many respects. It restored the pride and interest in the sagging test cricket as evidenced by the large turnout of 30,000 people on the fifth day of the test.
The test was unique and historic because India won the test by unbelievably chasing a fourth innings target of 387 runs by losing only four wickets in the process and won the first test by six wickets. Only the day before yesterday, the Australian sports columnist Peter Roebuck wrote in his article, published in Hindu, that M. S. Dhoni's Indian team has the right balance to claim the number one spot in the world. Within hours after the publication of the article Indian cricket team has made history by winning the first test against England.
The test was dominated by England for the first three days and India snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat in the last two days. England made a reasonably good total of 316 runs in the first innings helped by the 13 th test century by the England opener Andrew Straus. In reply India managed to score only 241 runs, the main contributors being the skipper M. S. Dhoni with 52 runs and Harbajan Singh, the ace offspinner with 40 runs. It is needless to say that both openers Sehwag and Gambhir, the great wall Dravid, the little master from Mumbai, very very special Laxman all failed to score in the first innings. Then England played its second innings and declared it at 311/9, with fine contributions from Andrew Straus and Paul Collingwood , each scoring 108 runs. Thanks to a fine bowling performance of Zakir Khan and Ishant Sharma, who scalped 6 wickets among them and restricted England to 311 for 9.
England having already gained a first innings lead of 75 runs over India, set an improbable target of 387 runs for India to chase in the second innings. It was a wearing pitch with bowlers getting occasional bounce and England spinners Swan and Monte Panesar were on song and appeared to dominate and threaten in the last day. Media had already written off the first test in favour of England as if they had strongly been in the driver's seat and poised to win the test.
It was the fourth day of the test. England skipper Kevin Peterson declared the England second innings at 311 for 9, setting a target of 387. The Indian openers came to play. It all started when the swashbuckling Indian opener Virendar Sehwag set the tone and momentum of chase by scoring a quickfire 83 runs of 68 balls with 11 fours and 4 sixes. His innings instilled the requisite enthusiasm and confidence among the Indian players and made them believe that they could make the run chase and the target was achievable. Viru's opening partner Gambhir continued the momentum and scored a decent 66. Then came the historical run chase and entertaining partnership between the little master Sachin Tendulkar and the Yuvaraj Singh, while the former scoring his skillful 41 century (103 not out) and the latter scoring a brisk 85 by giving an able and adequate support to Sachin.
By chasing 387 runs in the fourth innings, India won the first test by six wickets and is one up in the two test series. The run chase was made possible when the Indian players believed in themselves. It was Virendar Sehwag who won the man of the match award for his quickfire 83 but the credit of making a successful run chase should go to all Indian players like Sehwag, Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvaraj Singh. It was a fantastic team effort!
1. The Hindu (daily)
2. The Deccan Chronicle (daily)
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