India claim series after draw in second test
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Player:G Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Z Khan
Event:England in India 2008/09

DateLine: 23rd December 2008


The Indian team finished the year 2008 on a high by claiming the RBS test series after drawing the second and final test at Mohali. It was a shame that such a fantastic Test series was truncated to just two matches just when a healthy rivalry was building between some of the key players. There were banters but all were just for fun.


The final Test was played at Mohali but due to unfavourable weather conditions and that was one of the facts that result could not be forced, though on the final day India did not show much urgency in their scoring rate. They comfortably batted England out of the game with Gambhir falling agonizingly close to scoring his second century of the by just three runs.


Gambhir and Yuvraj maul England


There was once again a delayed start but after the play started Gambhir and Yuvraj lit up the arena with some breath taking stroke-play. With only 68 overs possible in the day, the two batsmen opened up and by the time lunch was taken up the English bowlers were mauled into submission.


When Gambhir and Yuvraj came out to bat, Kevin Pietersen employed a very defensive field almost like Dhoniís tactics to frustrate the Indian batsmen, there were men back at deep cover and deep point, long-off, and third man to go with a fine leg on the on side - the idea was clearly to strangle the scoring and the message to the bowlers to pitch it on one side of the stumps, preferably a bit wide. But the bowlers lacked the efficiency to execute that plan. With a packed off-side field, Anderson bowled on leg stump and Yuvraj swung him for six and when Broad pitched straight Gambhir walked across his stumps to pull it for four past midwicket.


After treating Swann with disdain, Yuvraj n consecutive deliveries brought back those chilling images of Durban 2007 to Broad, when he hit six sixes. First came an audacious shot, a front-foot, flat-batted bludgeon for six over mid-on. Next ball, Yuvraj creamed Broad over backward point for six to which Broad had a bemused smile on his baby face. But in the next ball Broad showing that he had learnt his lesson pitched on a yorker length and Yuvraj just jabbed it to third man.


Gambhir after crossing his fifty began to open up as he struck the next ball for a boundary. The onslaught thus broke when the umpires called for the lunch session for the day. Thus speculations began to rise whether declaration is around the corner.


Gambhir and Yuvraj miss centuries; draw on the horizon


Yuvraj and Gambhir went on the field with centuries in sight. For Gambhir he would have joined the selected band of players to record twin centuries and also one of those rare Indians to achieve that unique feat. But neither of them could reach the century mark and Gambhir fell agonizingly close.


There was the talk of when Dhoni would declare the Indian innings and when the pair walked out for the post-lunch session it was clear that India wanted to bat England out of the match and also let this pair have a go at their respective centuries. But Yuvraj failed to get back to his crease in time and was run out by Bellís accurate throw from short fine leg. Eight deliveries later, Dhoni left the scene without troubling the score by handing Monty Panesar his easiest wicket on a thoroughly disappointing tour. Gambhir, short of his hundred by three runs, played a cut shot which was intercepted by an air borne Bell at gully and thus that brought declaration for the Indian innings. England had an hour to bat before tea.


Their approach was cautious, but Alastair Cook nicked Ishant Sharma to VVS Laxman at second slip. An out-of-form Bell poked and prodded, shuffled and swayed against pace and spin and England went to tea with no further damage to their scoreline.


Anti-climatic final session


At the end of the second session it did not need any rocket science to predict the end of the Test. After a pulsating four days the final session came to a close with Dhoni turning his arm over in the final over of the session and symbolically the final over of the Test series. The bowlers bowled a defensive line and the batsmen not even bothering to try to put any ball to the fence.


Only once Strauss managed to send a very short ball from Mishra to cover boundary, other than that it was all display of how to play defensively. With nothing happening and presumably the last over of the day, Dhoni decided to infuse some fun by rolling over his arm, while Laxman kept the wickets. Bell took a single to reach the other end while Strauss had the duty to see off the over. After that it was all handshakes from both the teams as the series came to a close


Gambhir was declared the man of the match for his monumental effort in the first and second innings and Zaheer Khan is declared the man of the series for his splendid bowling performances on near perfect batting tracks.


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