Cricket for Americans, Jan. 3 2019: from Neesham to Pujara

A busy day in cricket yesterday. New Zealand beat Pakistan by 45 runs in a One Day International that saw the return of James Neesham: who crushed 47 runs off of just 13 deliveries — including five sixes in one over — and would have cruised to the fastest ODI half century ever had New Zealand not simply run out of overs. Then the all-rounder came back and took three Pakistani wickets to seal the game.

And he wasn’t even Man of the Match! Those plaudits fell to veteran opener Martin Guptill who’s run-a-ball 138 to kickoff New Zealand’s innings were enough to put them into a good position and keep them there all day. With the World Cup around the corner, you have to give some thought to the idea that this might finally be New Zealand’s time. They currently rank third in the ICC’s ODI rankings behind England and India. And while you have to make England the favorite this summer on their home turf, New Zealand are really making a case for themselves. Either way, things are setting up for what should be a tight, highly competitive tournament this summer in England and Wales.

Meanwhile, up the road a bit in Sydney, India won the toss and chose to bat on the first day of the fourth and final Test against Australia, with a chance to take the series 3-1 before they move into the ODI stage of the tour. And boy oh boy bat they did, highlighted by Cheteshwar Pujara who continued his run of good form, scoring a slow-burn 130 not-out to lead Australia to 303 for four wickets at the close of play.

It really was a tale of two batsmen then. First you have Neesham, who scored 47 off of 13 in probably like 15 minutes — while Pujara has defended his way to three centuries already this tour and has spent over 30 hours at the wicket since the Indian plane landed in Melbourne. Many people have said that batsmen like Neesham who revel in the shorter forms of the game will end up ruining Test cricket’s methodical pacing, and so they will be warmed to hear of Pujara’s success down-under these past few weeks.

I believe, personally, that there is room for all styles of batsmen in cricket, no matter the format. And new styles will only serve to provide more color to older formats. It’s a big old world, and there’s plenty of cricket, let’s mix it up now and again. It gives the game a variety that other sports simply don’t have. Neesham and Pujara are barely even playing the same sport, and yet somehow they are.

And people have been saying that this or that is going to finally be the nail in Test cricket’s coffin, and it never is, because there will always be people like Cheteshwar Pujara who simply like to bat, and score runs, and want to do it all day, no matter the format or the venue.

It takes all kinds. And yesterday we saw two of them. Cricket is infinitely interesting. And the above is just one example of its near constant state of curiosity. It’s an old bat and ball sport played with 22 people on empty fields of green yet somehow every day it throws up something different for us all to enjoy. You tune in one day and watch a muscle-bound hulk score 50 runs in 20 minutes, and you tune in the next and watch a skinny kid bat all damn day. It’s almost a miracle.

Mashonaland Eagles v Mountaineers at Harare, Coca-Cola Pro50 Championship

At this point and time, I am truly happy that I am not a supporter of the Indian national cricket team, a member of the “Swami Army” if you will.

Last night they collapsed, and I mean COLLAPSED, at the WACA, only to watch David Warner follow up with a blistering century off of 80 balls on the same pitch.  It was truly a brilliant innings from the King of t20.  And it sunk India.

I don’t see a way back for them in this match, and I think they will have an even more difficult time of things at Adelaide.

As such, I am glad I am not an India supporter, as that must be truly freaking depressing right now.  Sure, they won the World Cup not nine months ago, but after what happened in England, and what is happening in Australia, it must be down right embarrassing.

India has been pathetic, to put it bluntly.  Sure there are injuries, and they are older, and they are not accustomed to the conditions, and Australia has played better than anyone expected them to, but those are simply excuses.  The truth of the matter is: India is shit right now.

Again, to put it bluntly.

And these are not nobodies, these are world class cricketers, some of the best batsmen in the history of cricket, and they are getting out cheaply and easily.

It all feels so…wasteful.

As long a long suffering Arsenal supporter, I can almost relate.  The last six years have been tough, sure, and there was that 8-2 drumming at the hands of Man United last September, but the team has changed over several times, and the league has changed immensely; while the Indian squad has remained largely the same, with only a few tweaks here and there.

Then I think: what if Wegner had kept the Invincibles together? Henry would be 34, Bergkamp 42, Pires 38, Viera 35, Campbell 37, Ljundberg 34, Lehmann 42…

Sound familiar, India?

And what if those guys were all still playing for Arsenal, and I had to watch those once proud world beaters get demolished in the same way India is getting demolished? Well, that would be positively wrenching – it would depress the life out of me.

Therefore, India supporters, you have my sincere condolences.  Hang in there.  Your boys will be home again soon.

Personally, I am just ticked because I was looking forward to watching cricket tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day.  And while I will still watch, it won’t have that “edge of your seat” drama that I was hoping for.

And, yet, I can feel that old demon “hope” start to creep in – what if India take a couple quick wickets?  What if they can get Australia out before lunch? What if Sehwag finally starts to look like the batsman we all know he is?

Class is permanent, form temporary, right?

And there I go again…

Remember, India, it’s not the disappointment that’ll kill ya…

…it’s the hope.

Until next time.

South Western Districts v Boland at Oudtshoorn, CSA Provincial Three-Day Challenge

Currently: Day four, India 260-3, trailing Australia by 208.

Last night, before lunch, I experienced one of my favorite cricket moments ever.  (Admittedly, my experience is limited.)

Michael Clarke was in the 280s. He had taken his helmet off as India had brought spin into the attack. The commentators were silent (still not sure if they were actually quiet or if there was a technical glitch.)  There was the softest of buzzes from the stands.

And there stood Clarke, in his baggy green hat, and his label-free bat, looking exhausted but focused, like a cricketer from another era, another century.

Some cynics will say that Clarke was playing up the part, hamming it up in order to regain the favor of the fans and the press, and well, no matter, he won me over.   It was a wonderful moment, and it brought out the romantic in me.

At this moment, however, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar look not like cricketers from earlier time, but like themselves from just a few short years ago.

Their partnership today is at 92 runs, and they look to be in good enough form to maybe, just maybe, keep India in this match.

Unfortunately, there looks to be no chance of rain today or tomorrow in Sydney, so if they want to earn a draw, they are going to just keep on batting.

And, really, once they lose their fourth wicket, that really could be it for India.  Next is Kohli, who has had a terrible series, and Dhoni, who as we saw in the first innings cannot carry this team all on his own.

So the partnership of VVS and Sachin is India’s only hope.

Thankfully, for India, they are in good hands.  Tendulkar, of course, has over 15,000 test runs, and Laxman has almost 9,000…

And just like that, just as I was looking into the partnership totals of Laxman and Tendulkar, the Captain Clarke strikes: Tendulkar: OUT for 80 off of 141 deliveries.

It is surely Michael Clark’s test match.

A lovely knock under pressure for the little man, but India needed more.

And that is probably it.  I was hoping to be able to have one more night of cricket viewing tomorrow evening, but I have a feeling will all be lucky if this match makes it to the tea break.

And with that, I am going to sign off an enjoy it while I can.

Until next time.

Madhya Pradesh v Mumbai at Indore, Ranji Trophy Elite

About five minutes ago, Michael Clarke became only the 21st cricketer to hit a test 300.  And he is still going, and I would not be surprised if he reaches 400, as India has seemingly all but given up on this test, on this series.  Clarke has buried them.

Like most Indian supporters and neutrals, I keep waiting for India to spring to life, to take a couple quick wickets, and then maybe bat on for two days and earn a draw and we all go to Perth with a smile.  But it’s just not happening.

But back to Clarke’s 300: there have been 25 triple centuries in test cricket in the 134 years of the format’s existence from 21 different batsmen.  And just like I always do here, I will try to put this into a bit of context:

The first thing that came to mind was the perfect game in baseball.  And, yeah, I know it is apples to oranges, as a baseball game at most lasts three hours, and the pitcher is only out there for half of it, and most perfect games are actually closer to two hours long than three hours. While Chris Gayle, for instance, during his 300 two years ago against Sri Lanka, batted for almost 11 hours, while seeing 437 deliveries.

But, still, the perfect game, like the three hundred, is five parts stamina, three parts mental fortitude, and two parts dumb luck.  And they are rare:  It has only been accomplished 20 times in the history of the Major League Baseball.  And like the 300, it is truly a modern accomplishment, with majority of the perfect games happening in the last two decades.

And considering there have been countless baseball games, while there have only been 2,000+ tests, one could even argue that the perfect game is a rarer accomplishment.

And that, really, is the only comparison I can come up with – in team sports anyway.   The 300, to me, is a solitary feat in modern sport, and has no equal anywhere.  To stand up, at the crease, in the pressure of a test match, for nine, ten, eleven, twelve hours; to defend, to score, to run between the wickets with the highest degree of skill and intelligence, in a sport where the margin of error is positively razor thin…well, it truly blows me away that it is even possible, much less that it has happened 25 times since 1877.

A couple of other accomplishments I kicked around were Pete Rose’s hitting streak, Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak, or maybe, a professional cyclist winning a tough mountain stage without the help of teammates.  But at this point, we aren’t even talking apples to oranges anymore, we are talking apples to elephants.

The only other event I can think of, other than a perfect game, which even comes close to a triple century in cricket is a really long Grand Slam final in tennis.  Like, maybe, the 2008 Wimbledon Final between Nadal and Federer that lasted almost five hours.  A close comparison, I think, really.

Of course, Clarke’s 300 today at the SCG is even more impressive than most 300s, because he is the squad’s captain, and when he entered the match his squad was reeling at 37-3, but the captain stood up and batted on and on and on…and now they are 650-4.  He did what captains are supposed to do: he put them team on his back and carried them.

Now, truthfully, Dhoni did the same thing for India in their first innings, but unfortunately batting partner after batting partner failed him, while Clarke had the luxury of batting with two fellas that each hit centuries.

Back to the match and Australia are now ahead by 460, and they could probably declare now and still get a day off.  And, really, they should be continue and continue to bat at least a little longer to guarantee a win, because despite India’s poor performance with the bat, they are still India, and they still feature Sehwag, and Dravid, and Tendulkar,  and Laxman.

Clarke would be a fool to underestimate them.

Meanwhile, in Cape Town, Sri Lanka are steadily chasing down South Africa’s 580 on day three.  It has been a fine test match so far at Newlands, always great to see.

That’s it from here.  Until next time.


Tamil Nadu v Maharashtra at Chennai, Ranji Trophy Elite

It is day two of the second test of India’s tour of Australia, and to this novice, it looks as if India is already thinking ahead to the ODIs, or maybe even to the plane ride home.

Dhoni and Co. look perfectly content to let Ponting and Clarke bat on and on and on and on.  151 runs for the partnership at press time, and they are cranking along at 4.28 runs per over, and they look ready to give Australia a decisive lead in the match, and if India allows that to happen, then for all intents and purposes the test series is over before a single ball is bowled in Perth.

It is everyone’s greatest fear come to fruition, as it is so far a repeat of this past summer in England.  Actually, that is untrue, as India actually gave England a real scare in the first two tests.  In Australia however, aside from a few moments on day two, and a few wonderful balls from Kahn, India has barely been in the ballpark.

Here’s to hoping we are all jumping the gun too soon.  But reading around the Internet today, as bloggers near and far attempt to dissect what exactly is wrong with India (remember this team was the number one test nation on earth six months ago) I am afraid to say that I think we are not jumping to conclusions too early.

(Two such articles are here and here, from The Reverse Sweep and a Cricketing View, respectively.)

Now, I am not going to write India’s postmortem quite yet, and in fact part of me believes there is life in their team yet, and Australia has honestly bowled really well, and their tail has batted out of their skins, but it is quite obvious even to me that considering the batting talent India has, there is something terribly wrong with the squad, something that can’t be fixed with a different player batting sixth or with a different off spinner.

So what’s next for India?

Well, unfortunately, as an extended stay at home might be what they really need, this is a long stay in Australia; their last ODI takes place almost two months from now, on February 28th.  Then it is off to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup series, and then home for the IPL.

Then again in July they are back on the road already, with three tests in Sri Lanka.  After that, however, they are home for one year (aside from the Champions Trophy) when they travel to Zimbabwe in 2013.

In other words, they will get their long stay at home to rest and examine their squad as players start to retire eventually, but it is going to be a while yet.

Australia, on the other hand, look like world beaters again.  Ponting, who was dead to the world not four months ago, has pushed the sky back into sky and looks to knock his first test ton since he scored 209 against Pakistan at Hobart – 32 test innings ago.

And their young quicks continue to impress, especially Pattinson, who just keeps taking wickets.  As such it might not all be India’s fault, that as I alluded to above, it might simply be that Australia is playing quite well.

Over in South Africa, another aging batsman is showing that age is just a number, as the 36 year Jacques Kallis is at 159 not out for the hosts, who have batted for 347/3 against Sri Lanka in the first innings of the third and decisive test.

At this point, it looks like it is going to be South Africa’s match to lose, and considering how tame Sri Lanka’s bowling attack has been, you have to ask: is it time to entice Lasith Malinga out of test retirement?

He is only 28 years old, and before he retired right after the 2011 IPL, he took 101 test wickets in 30 matches.

Now, I understand why he retired: Sri Lanka was not paying him and he needed to rest his injury prone body for the IPL and other one-day formats in order to make a living, but the Sri Lanka cricket board needs to look at the situation and figure out a way to bring him back into the test squad – pay him more, let him bowl part time, something.

His country needs him, despite their famous win at Durban. He is one of the most dynamic bowlers in world cricket, and he should be playing tests.  My two cents.

Unfortunately, the above will continue to happen as big money t20 domestic leagues lure players away from test cricket, and that is just simply the age we live in now, but when it comes to a player like Malinga, I feel like it is a real loss not just for Sri Lanka, but for cricket.

(Author’s bias, Malinga was one of the very first cricketers I fell in love with after discovering cricket.)

Now I need to get back to the cricket, and working on other writing.  I am starting to think I might get up before dawn to watch some of South Africa v Sri Lanka, see if Kallis can get only his second double century.  First ball of the day is at 3:30am local time.

That’s a giant maybe.

Until tomorrow.

Knights v Dolphins at Bloemfontein, SuperSport Series

Well, that was that, that was the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

I was out last night and was unable to watch any of the fourth day, but I was able to follow it on my phone and it looked as though Australia really had India’s number.

The day started with Australia already in the ascendancy, but a 43 run ninth wicket stand put them in the driver’s seat for sure, leaving India needing 292 runs to win.

If their batting clicks, of course, that is more than a doable total for Sehwag, Sachin, and Co.  Heck, it wasn’t even lunch yet on the fourth day and there was no rain in the forecast.  I even had visions of Tendulkar winning the match AND getting his 100th century with the same swing of the bat.

But then Sehwag fell after only seeing 12 balls, and as soon as that happened, you just had this feeling that this was just not going to be India’s test.

One after the other, the visiting batsmen fell to a vicious attack from the Aussie quicks, finally taking Yadav in the 48th over of Indians second innings to win the match by a healthy total of 122 runs.

For me, I can pinpoint two sessions that seemed to turn the tide for India and both involved weak Indian bowling after lunch: on the first day when Australia were cranking along at 4.55 runs an over, and on the third when Dhoni seemed absolutely unwilling to set an attacking field.  In both cases, absolutely no pressure was put on the Aussie batsmen and they just plugged along, piling on runs.  And that’s your 122 run different right there.

In fact, if not for the brilliant Zaheer, Australia could very well still be batting.  And that’s why, for me, he is Man of the Match (Pattinson was the official MotM, deservedly so.)  Zaheer though kept India in the match and, less objectively, played with a flair and an aggressiveness that made me really love him.  He also took 10 wickets while restricting Australia to 130.

Other heroes? was a hero for sure, brilliant streaming.  Except after tea, for some reason.  The stream always got dodgy after tea…

Also: Eddie Cowan, of course, and his slow but fun to watch 68 in the first innings.  Ponting Leared his way to 62, as well, taking Australia to a respectable, despite the haters, first innings total.

Yadav was expensive, but impressive, and of course all of the Aussie quicks impressed: Pattinson, Hilfenhaus, and Siddle took 19 of the 20 wickets.

Moment of the match?  Again, in a losing cause, it was the first couple of hours of India’s first innings.  Tendulkar, and Sehwag, and Dravid raged for around three hours, giving the hosts a real scare.  I had fantasies of 600 runs by lunch on day three.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but it was a treat to watch.

The best part of all of this?  Three are THREE more tests to come.  Next up, Monday night in Sydney.


Meanwhile, in Durban, another Boxing Day Test match is happening. Sri Lanka are taking their time, and South Africa are hanging on, but this looks like the visitors match to lose.  I think I will sign off here, and follow the match on Cricinfo, old school style.

Until next time.

South Africa v Sri Lanka at Durban, 2nd Test

Just a few notes from last night’s test match:

1. I was able to watch the final 60 or so overs of the day.  I missed the first two wickets, but I saw Ponting’s 50, and Cowan’s 50, and the two wickets that weren’t, and the two wickets that were.

2.  Regarding the above commentary:  The wicket’s of both Cowan and Hussey would surely have been over-turned if a review system was in place.  Yes, I know, it is a flawed technology, but it is better than nothing.  Those two wickets changed the entire day and turned the match in India’s favor, and it is really unfortunate that both decisions were wrong.

Further, I think not having DRS available puts more pressure on the umpires, not less as some would suggest.  And I believe that that added pressure is a big reason behind why both calls were flubbed.

The technology exists, and for the flaws in it to be ironed out, the technology needs to get used on stages such as the Boxing Day test match at the MCG.

At the end of the day, Indian, Australian, or neutral, you have to feel for Eddie Cowan.  He played a marvelous debut innings, and he should still be out there batting.

3.  I mentioned in a post a few days ago that “three magical deliveries out of nowhere will change everything” – or something like that.  And that is exactly what happened last night.  The wickets of Ponting, Clarke, and Hussey were taken with just wonderful attacking balls.  And whether or not the decisions would have been overturned by DRS does not diminish the quality of those deliveries.

Zaheer Kahn really is a special bowler.  The only real match changer out there for India, and they are lucky to have him.

That is not to discount the performance of his fellow fast bowler, Umesh Yadav, who took three for 96, but Kahn is just simply a step ahead of him, skill wise.  For now, anyway.

4.  For the first 25 or so overs last night,’s quality was impeccable.  After tea, unfortunately, the quality started to decrease, but before that it was just lovely.  Hopefully it was a sign of things to come.

5.  During the match last night, there were a few promos for the KFC Big Bash League.  The juxtaposition of that circus to a wonderful test match was impossible not to notice.  BBL is all noise, signifying nothing; while the test match was of the highest quality, and was operating on multiple levels.

As I have said before, I truly believe there is room for both forms, and I understand that money-printing domestic competitions such as the BBL have to exist, for financial reasons, but gah the BBL makes me a little ashamed to be a cricket fan.

6.  Twitter is a real hoot during big matches.  At one point, nine of the ten trending topics in India were related to the Boxing Day test match.

7.   I am going to start writing down ideas for blog posts.  I thought of one yesterday while writing my match preview but now I cannot remember what it was and it is DRIVING ME CRAZY.

8.  I did not watch a single ball of South Africa v Sri Lanka.  Maybe tomorrow.

9.  Only one over was lost yesterday due to rain.


A cynic could even attribute that lost over to Indian’s notoriously low over rates instead of Mother Nature, but I am not a cynic.

10.  70,000 people at the MCG yesterday.  And my rough estimate says that 1/3 of them were India supporters.  So much for home-field advantage.

11.  During the first hour or so of the second session, the Aussies were cranking along at 4.55 runs per over.  That, for me, is the story of the match so far.  India’s bowlers were very poor after lunch and if not for Kahn’s heroics and the two dodgy decisions, the visitors would be in a whole lot of trouble.

12.  Day 2 begins in five hours and 25 minutes.

13.  Until next time.

Australia v India at Melbourne, 1st Test

Writing a proper test match report is a skill that is a little bit beyond my pay grade.  It takes a deft touch that I simply do not have, not yet anyway.  You want me to sum up 30 hours worth of play in 1,000 words – are you insane?  I will leave that for the professionals.

(Speaking of which, are we going to get more songs during this series?  I sure hope so.)

And, I guess, writing a proper match preview is another task that is best handled by an expert.

That said:  here is what I have to say about the upcoming Boxing Day test match.

Most, if not all, of the pundits I have read over the last week have concentrated on the weaknesses and inherent flaws of both Australia and India (primarily their batting and their bowling, respectively.)  Now, I agree to some degree that those flaws are the story of the series that is worth telling right now, and the opposing weaknesses might make for four intruiging games, but I am a glass-is-half-full guy at heart, and prefer instead to on positives.

Positive #1:

The weather.  Several different weather sites have confirmed for me that we are to see perfect cricketing conditions over the next five days.  Dry (!!!), sunny, highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s (Fahrenheit.)  If the two teams can make it through the first match without losing a single over, then the most important people win: the fans.

Positive #2:

We all get to see Sehwag, Dravid, and Tendulkar et al, bat on a perfect pitch, in the sunshine, in a test match.  These are the best batsmen in a generation, if not ever. If that does not get you a wee bit excited, then I don’t know what to tell you.  Of course, Dravid and Sachin do not really have a history of magical performances at the MCG, but Sehwag did throw up a double century in his first and only Test appearance in Melbourne.

And I honestly believe with all of my heart that Sachin will get his 100th 100 during this match.  Bank on it, in fact.  Another positive.

Positive #3:

On a more statistical note, we are pretty likely to get an outcome of the first match, as a Test match at the MCG has not ended in a draw in 14 years.

India have won two test matches in Melbourne, lost seven, and drawn one.  Which, really, is not a terrible record.  Winning two tests in Australia is never anything to sneeze at.  And considering there penchant for losing the first test of an overseas series, I think having the first match at a ground that has been successful for them bodes well for the Indians.

Australia have won 58 of the 103 test they have hosted at the MCG, which is not all that convincing, really.  But they will be home, with a big crowd behind them, and I think they will feed off of that a bit.  And considering their recent implosions, both on Boxing Days of late as well as against New Zealand and South Africa, I think the Aussies might be due for a good performance.

Positive #4:

The match will be live on  I hope, HOPE, to be able to watch at least a bit of the first day’s play, but I am not getting those hopes too high.  It is Christmas after all.

Positive #5:

Eddie Cowan.  And Australia’s young seamers.

Positive #6:

Twitter.  @limitedovers.  Hashtag: #ausvind

Positive #7:

The MCG:

And that’s what I have for you today.  There is a lot more to be excited about, of course, but like I said, it’s Christmas.

Happy Christmas, readers, hopefully I will see you all later tonight.

Baroda v Bengal at Vadodara, Ranji Trophy Elite

Today is my last work day before the Christmas holiday, and I won’t be returning until the day after Boxing Day.  I am looking forward to some time off, as well as some time to write, and to watch cricket – and there will be plenty of cricket to watch:

The Boxing Day test between Australia and India at the MCG is number one on the list of must watch matches.  The first ball might be on the morning of the 26th in Melbourne, but it will the evening of Christmas day here in Minneapolis.  My family is getting a bit of a late start on festivities this year, so hopefully I will be able to rush out and get home in time to watch.  But if dinner goes late, and Australia wins the toss and elects to have a bat, and I miss Eddie Cowan’s first test innings, well, my Christmas will be ruined.

Here is a fun article on Mr. Cowan from Mr. Cricket With Balls.

I am excited to see Australia’s young bowlers again, and I am excited to possibly see Sachin’s 100th 100, and I am excited to see if what happens if both teams collapse on the last day of the test – will the universe explode around them like a dying star, like when a person meets themselves from a different dimension on Doctor Who?

Only one way to find out.

Also on Boxing Day, with the first ball actually on Boxing Day here in the states, is the second test between South Africa and Sri Lanka.  Sure, it is not the marquee match of the two, but South Africa is the third best test nation on the planet right now, and Sri Lanka, while struggling, has some exciting young players to watch.  Hopefully, Sri Lanka can make a match of this one.

Oh, and the best part: both matches are available live on Willow.Tv.

It’s funny, test cricket.  The whole cricket loving world will pause and pay attention to the Australia-India test starting Sunday night.  Prime time here in the states, but morning in Australia, late evening in England, middle of the night in India.  At around lunch, England will go to bed, as India wakes up, and sees the scores.  Over five days (hopefully, weather permitting), this cycle will continue.  Five days, a work week, watching 22 men play out one of the greatest dramas in sport. At this point, we like to think we know who the heroes will be…the villains, the goats…but no one really knows for sure, which is why we will all watch, as much as we can, to see the plotlines develop, the heroes emerge from the pack.  It will at first feel a little slow, but then you will blink and there will be a 100 partnership, and the batting side will have the momentum, only to have it shattered by three magical deliveries from nowhere, and the batters will build again, only to be destroyed again.  And the pitch will change as the days progress, as it is a player in this too.  The G’s pitch is known to provide an even playing field for both bat and ball, but will it continue to do so? Will it favor India’s spin?  Will it swing for Australia instead?  And lest we forget that the match is taking place at one of cricket’s greatest stages: The Melbourne Cricket Ground:

It seats 100,000 people, it has hosted test matches since 1877, and the ghosts of almost 134 years worth of cricket haunt its outfield.

In summation: I am looking forward to this one.  As are two billion other folks.  See ya’ll on twitter.