In different corners of the world, two Tests are poised on a knife edge and both have arrived at the same point by remarkably similar see-sawing matches. Barring rain, both matches will conclude today (even though the NZ-England match is just three days old). England is 1-76, needing a difficult 292 to win. The West Indies are 1-46, needing a just as difficult total of 287 runs for victory.
The fact that both sides have a chance of winning has been due to dramatic turn arounds. Batting first, New Zealand led by 179 on the first innings, largely due to a magnificent 154 not out from Ross Taylor. That guy can bat. This is just his seventh Test and his second Test hundred, but between Tests and ODIs, he has smashed most world attacks. The Aussies, also batting first, led the West Indies by 119, following a typically splendid 158 from Ponting. The West Indies were kept in the match by Chanderpaul, who made a very brave and patient 118 from 276 balls after receiving a sickening blow to the head from Brett Lee. I got the impression in the end of day interview, that Lee was worried that he had killed the poor little bastard.
The West Indies came storming back into the match late on the third day by cutting down the Australian top order. At 4-17, there was a momentum shift. I’d also like to note that the West Indies catching, in both innings has been excellent. I don’t know how many, if any, they grassed, but I’ve seen on the news at least five screamers. In the end, only Symonds lifted the Aussies to any sort of credibility. For England, Panesar took for 6-37 (and found Aussie umpires Hair (welcome back Darrell) and Taufel much more agreeable to lbws than those standing in Sabina Park), and shot out the Kiwis for just 114.
So at stumps, we find the Windies needing 241 runs with 9 wickets in hand, and England needing 218 runs, also with 9 wickets in hand. As half the Aussie attack looked pretty lack lustre, I’m going with the Windies. And as the Old Trafford pitch is obviously taking spin, and Vettori already has two bags of five for the series, I’m taking the Kiwis.
And as it’s almost semi final time, let’s not forget IPL. Bangalore have beaten Gillie’s Deccan, which gives Deccan the first ever IPL wooden spoon. For Bangalore, Cameron White finally made it past 25. Warnie’s Royals keep on winning while Ganger’s Knight Riders has a consolation win against Punjab. The Knight Riders can’t make the semi’s but Ganguly finished with a fine 86 not out.
But it’s those Tests that hold the interest for me. After days of hard fighting, and plenty of fine individual performances, they are set for tense and exciting finishes. Only sad thing is that I don’t think I’ll be staying up (or getting up) to watch.