Sunday, March 12, 2006

Zoo News International: Cricket Fascinates Me

I read sporting-page reviews of cricket games a lot. I understand nothing of the game except that they call the bat a “wicket,” their pitchers throw underhand like softball pitchers or girls, and at some point they run around the bases. The scoring and mechanics of the game are beyond my knowledge in their totality.

But ignorance of a topic never stopped or even slowed me from commenting upon it. Here’s the article – let’s go for a ride.

Three-wicket Kumble puts England in a spin

Anil Kumble grabbed three wickets (ok, first sign of trouble. If a wicket is a bat, grabbing three of them makes no sense.) brighten India's hopes of forcing a win (how does one “force” a win? You can take, steal, or deserve a win, but to force a win sounds like the other side had to give it to you. I don’t get it.) in the second Test (game? Inning? half? period?) against England after Ashes hero Kevin Pietersen's dubious dismissal (so their refs suck, too. At least something is the same.).

The in-form (shapely? comely?) England batsman was given out (like outed? Like formerly closeted?) by Australian umpire Darrell Hair when his attempted sweep off spinner Harbhajan Singh (this is dense; first ignore the name) was held by Rahul Dravid in the slips (a geographical place), but the TV replays suggested the ball hit only the forearm (a body part). (a sweep off was held in the slips but actually just it some guy’s forearm. Sorry, I haven’t a clue.)

Pietersen, who had scored two successive half-centuries (I know this. I read ahead and think a century refers to scoring 100 points. I’m so happy!) in the series, contributed just four this time before walking back in disbelief. (get over it, loser.)

England had struggled to 112-5 (struggled? Sounds like an ass kicking.) in their second innings at stumps (stumps? Slips? This game sounds like Dungeons and Dragons) on the fourth day ((how the hell long do they play?! Four days?!) after conceding a lead of 38. The tourists (playing for the better part of a week, I guess it is appropriate to call the visiting team tourists) are now just 74 ahead with five wickets in hand. (carry five bats around again. Bizarrre.)

Stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff was unbeaten on 16 with wicket-keeper Geraint Jones on one and the last two recognised batsmen were at the crease. (how does one enter a game and be unrecognized? Stumps, slips, crease – the list never ends!)

Ian Bell top-scored with a solid 57 for his seventh Test half-century before being caught behind to become leg-spinner Kumble's third victim (OMG, they killed him!).

Kumble, who became the fifth bowler in Test history to complete 500 wickets on Saturday (a record? Very cool. Must be like lots of home runs. But Test still throws me.), kept testing the batsmen with clever variations to end the day with 3-41. (Nope. Testing with clever variations? 3-41? So Kumble played a kind of funky Jeopardy! with the batsguy and the batsguy got 3 out of 44 questions right? This cricket game sounds so cool.)

India go into the fifth and final day on Monday (tourists, like house guests, never seem to leave, eh?), when as many as 98 overs (over what?) are scheduled to be bowled, hoping to press home their advantage after the first Test in the three-match series was drawn. (This sentence seems to have a bunch of grammatical errors, but I’m sure it’s a British thing. They suck at grammar.)

Pietersen fell three overs (dunno) after England had lost Andrew Strauss, who was given out by the third umpire, India's Arani Jayaprakash.

The left-handed opener (I hope this is a person rather than a back-handed comment) tried to sweep Kumble but the ball hit the bat, boot and then pad (rather complete description of ball trajectory) before being held by wicket-keeper Mahendra Dhoni in front of the stumps (a clue! The stumps must be around the guy that keeps track of the bats.).

Kumble's other victim (OMG, a serial murderer!) was all-rounder Paul Collingwood, caught at slip by Dravid (accessory to murder) after making 14.

India secured a first innings lead after an impressive 95 from Dravid and useful contributions from bowlers Irfan Pathan (52), Harbhajan (36) and Kumble (32). They were bowled out for 338 (Bowled out, nope. Don’t get it.) in reply to England's first innings 300.

India were (that grammar thing again; India is a collective noun requiring a singular verb.) in danger of conceding the lead when they were reduced to 153-5 (another ass kicking) after resuming on 149-4, but Dravid and Pathan steadied the innings with a crucial 76-run stand (wow, how many times do these guys get to bat?) for the sixth wicket.

Kumble and Harbhajan were then involved in a rollicking 53-run stand for the eighth wicket.

Flintoff was the most successful bowler, claiming three of the six Indian wickets that fell on Sunday to finish with 4-96. Swing bowler (boy, another sexual reference. Guess it’s natural when you stay for five days.) Matthew Hoggard and paceman Steve Harmison each bagged two (hunting season? This game is unbelievable.).

The England captain dismissed well-set Dravid and the free-stroking Pathan in the morning session. (did someone mention a daisy chain?)

Dravid looked set to complete his 23rd Test century before he inside-edged a delivery on to his stumps (sounds painful). He had added 35 to his overnight score of 60 and hit 10 fours.

Pathan struck one six off left-arm spinner Monty Panesar and five fours in his sixth Test half-century before being caught by Collingwood at backward point (another place to add to the list) off Flintoff.

England then faced resistance from an unexpected quarter as tail-ender Harbhajan chanced his arm (his arm was running ahead of him? How bizarre.) to smash seven fours in an entertaining 41-ball knock (sounds like a good time was had by all).

(For true cricket fans, I have included what seems to be a scoring summary below. After studying everything presented in the article, I have concluded that I learned nothing about this rather very long game. Oh well. Maybe next article.)

Panesar 31 V. Sehwag c Jones b Harmison 11 R. Dravid b Flintoff 95 S. Tendulkar c Strauss b Flintoff 4 Y. Singh c Bell b Hoggard 15 M. Dhoni c Jones b Harmison 16 I. Pathan c Collingwood b Flintoff 52 A. Kumble b Plunkett 32 H. Singh c Jones b Flintoff 36 P. Chawla c Collingwood b Hoggard 1 M. Patel not out 11 Extras (lb25, nb8, w1) 34 Total 338 Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-96, 3-103, 4-134, 5-153, 6-229, 7-260, 8-313, 9-321 Bowling: Hoggard 18-6-55-2 Harmison 28-9-60-2 Flintoff 22-3-96-4 Plunkett 9.2-1-37-1 Panesar 19-3-65-1 England 2nd innings A. Strauss c Dhoni b Kumble 13 A. Cook c Dhoni b Patel 2 I. Bell c Dhoni b Kumble 57 K. Pietersen c Dravid b Harbhajan 4 P. Collingwood c Dravid b Kumble 14 A. Flintoff not out 16 G. Jones not out 1 Extras (lb1, nb3, w1) 5 Total (for five wickets) 112 Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-50, 3-55, 4-88, 5-109 Bowling: Pathan 6-1-16-0 Patel 5-2-10-1 Harbhajan 19-5-37-1 Kumble 17-4-41-3 Chawla 4-2-7-0

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