Elgar and wiser with experience
VISAKHAPATNAM : Mohali, 2015.
On a square turner, Dean Elgar is struggling to pick R Ashwin. He’s arrived in India with a decent reputation, but there are plays and misses. He then tries to hit is way out of trouble. A slog over midwicket takes the leading edge, and ends up in backward point’s hands. He gets a send-off from Ashwin. The offie’s indicating that he knew that his shot was coming. He’s reminding Elgar that Mohali isn’t Johannesburg.
And thus begins a contest; one that will still be in public view, even four years later. Seven dismissals in 12 innings is what the scorecard of this clash will read, right before South Africa pay India another visit. Visakhapatnam, 2019.Elgar doesn’t seem to care. Years have gone by, and this battle has only intensified. Third day’s play ends. At the press conference, Elgar says that 2015 was a farce; those pitches weren’t meant for Tests, he adds. He compares the wicket in Centurion — Ashwin’s dismissed him there as well since — to the ones you find in Mumbai. Ashwin can dismiss him 10 times again, he says. But then comes the rider. He doesn’t care about that; as long as he is playing the ball, and not the bowler.
Ashwin too expects nothing but a fight from Elgar. “What else will you expect from batsman who has scored runs in tough conditions all over the world?” he asks. He’s happy for Elgar, but he also seems eager to have another go at him with the ball. After all, the man’s just Houdinied South Africa from a 502-run deathtrap.
Elgar’s 160 off 287 may not have been as thrilling as that Kevin Pietersen blitz in Mumbai (2012), or those Steve Smith’s masterclasses in Pune (2017). But it will definitely go down as one of the most grittiest knocks reeled off by an overseas player in India in this decade. Even more so when this Ashwin battle is shoehorned into the context. Elgar faced 88 deliveries from him, and scored 45. Only nine came on the off-side. Inference? Patience. Thirty two off his 36 runs on the leg-side were in the arc between mid-wicket and mid-on. Inference? Quality foot-work.
It wasn’t as if Elgar’s day was a bed of roses. As he has before, he had to scrap his way out of trouble. The second delivery the southpaw faced on Friday — from who else? Ashwin — spun past his outside edge. Two balls later, he left a ball that almost shaved his off-stump. A clumps of dot balls later, you thought it was only a matter of time. But the 11th? Lifted over mid-on. And the over finished with a solid block.It was a sight Ashwin and India witnessed — painstakingly so — on most of Day Three. Clarity in shot-selection. Assurance in defence. Deft use of feet against spin. Compact technique. Full commitment to shots when the need arose.
“It is the game plan going forward, don’t want to give too much away,” explained Elgar. “It was me trying to be a little bit more, putting my stamp on my innings, not allowing them to just bowl at me, which has happened in the past. I’ve learnt over the last few years that I can play spin. I’d like to think that this innings didn’t come by fluke. It came because I’ve done the hard work. I have spent a lot of time away from home. I’d like to sit on the table and say it wasn’t by luck.”
Once Elgar found a way to deal with Ashwin, he didn’t have trouble facing the others. There was a dropped catch off Jadeja — Wriddhiman Saha fluffed it when Elgar was on 74 — but lucky are only those who make their luck count.Of those 45 runs against Ashwin, there was a six that Elgar will remember in the years to come: a slog-sweep that got him to his second ton in Asia. Everyone in his dressing room gave a standing applause. Joining them on the field was Ashwin.
Harbhajan not choosing The Hundred over IPL
Harbhajan Singh will not give up his IPL career for The Hundred, as his name was included in the draft list of overseas players on Thursday. As things stand, Indian players are not allowed to feature in any other leagues. If they want to him feature, he needs to retire and get a NOC from BCCI. “If I have to choose between the two, then I will go with IPL any day... l didn’t know that even to be included in the draft, I needed an NOC. Anyways The Hundred begins only after IPL, so there is time to decide,” Harbhajan said. In the past, BCCI has denied giving NOC to Irfan Pathan for playing in Caribbean Premier League. Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh got to play in Masters T20 and Global T20 only after retiring.