Tuesday, December 27, 2011

27th Dec'2011 : Day - 2 Melbourne

Unlike yesterday, it was blue skies, with occasional small fluffs of white clouds whiling by, as bright sun welcomed the players in the middle. Overnight batsmen Siddle & Haddin took stance with score at 277 for 6, as Umesh Yadav marked his run up....two slips & a gully, third man, point, mid off, mid on, long off, deep mid wicket,......day 2 proceedings got underway.
Zaheer, from the other end stuck in his first over(the 2nd over of the day), consuming the ever dangerous Haddin, with an away seaming delivery, kissing the outside edge, & Sehwag at gully gobbling the catch gratefully. In came Pattinson to join Siddle, with Yadav & Zaks bowling in tandem....Next to go was Siddle, with Zaks again finding the nick of the blade & Dhoni behind doing the rest......291 for 8, & both overnight batsmen back in the pavillion. Zaheer had done the job of being the frontline bowler for India. Hilfenhaus in next, hit quite lustily to take Australia past the 300 mark,.....as Zaheer looked like tiring out, & Yadav or Ishant not making much of an impact....drinks break at this stage was certainly a welcome sign for the fielders.  Finally spin introduced by Dhoni, provided the breakthrough, as Ashwin lured Hilfenhaus to hole out at long on, where Virat Kohli made no mistakes. The last pair dragged the score to 333, when Ashwin bowled Lyon round the legs....the Aussie 1st innings had lasted 110 overs. An at par score, one would say.

Indian innings started with Gambhir taking strike & Sehwag at the non striker's end....three slips, gully & a short leg, as Pattinson started the bowling in earnest with a maiden. Lunch was round the corner & India had to negotiate three overs, before the break.....Gambhir was edgy, while Sehwag looked his normal self. Hilfenhaus & Pattinson continued pounding after lunch, as Sehwag started to open up. However, he got into a needeless word spat with Pattinson & Siddle, as the Umpire intervened to caution. This must have broken the concentration of Gambhir at the other end, who had been quite edgy till now, & he perished to an edge behind of Hilfenhaus....India score reading 22 for 1 after 8 overs. Sehwag continued as he normally does, hitting clearly & across the line....reaching a scorching 50 in just 59 deliveries. He got a life in the very next over, as Haddin grassed a regulation nick off Pattinson, but could not capitalize on this chance. Pattinson, bowling an extremely good spell, had his revenge, as Sehwag went for a cover drive & edged onto the stumps.....out for a blazing 67 off 83 deliveries.....he had his chances, but could not convert a big score. He however, reached an important milestone, crossing 8000 runs in test cricket, the fifth Indian to do so, till date. At the other end, Dravid seemed to be scratching & getting beaten at regular intervals, but surviving diligently, as Tendulkar walked into the middle to a rapturous crowd....anticipation of a big 100 !!!! With tea break round the corner Hussey induced Tendulkar into an inside edge, which fell just short of the silly mid on, as the Indians across the globe watching would have heaved a sigh of relief.
Whatever, he had for tea, Sachin came back into the middle in a completely different frame of mind, clobbering Siddle for a six, uppercutting over slips, bringing up the 100 for India. Runs started to flow again, as Dravid clawed to a rather inelegant, edgy fifty off 137 deliveries, & Sachin racing to his own in just 55 deliveries....a complete contrast of batting display by the two masters of the game in the middle. 200 runs for India came in the 57th over, as Clarke looked out of ideas to get a wicket. With the day nearing end, he rested his confidence with his best bowlers of the day, Pattinson & Siddle...both bowling their heart out. It was Siddle, who got the crowd roaring back, as he broke through the defensive Wall of Dravid to rattle the off & middle stump......however, Dravid was lucky to escape, as Siddle had overstepped & the Umpire, after consulting the replays, ruled it a No-Ball....heart wrenching decision for a bowler. Siddle continued to torment Dravid with his incisive nipping deliveries, as Pattinson kept the other end tied up with some equally good bowling. Finally Siddle got his reward as he broke through Tendulkar's defence this time, clean bowling him for a brilliantly compiled 73 runs off just 98 balls. It was the last over of the day, as Tendulkar trudged back to the pavilion......the 100th ton still eluding him.

Dravid survived the day, to battle it out in the middle tomorrow, as India closed the day at 214 for 3. For the Indians, Zaks bowled beautifully in the morning & then Sehwag & Tendulkar entertained the crowd with some splendid batting display, though both of them would be disappointed to have missed out on a deserving hundred. For the Aussies, Siddle & Pattinson really bowled superbly & with a bit of luck, & some half chances converted in the field, would have had more wickets to cap the performance.
I would say, at the end of the day, the match is tilted slightly in India's favor, trailing the Aussies by 119 runs with 7 wickets in hand. Tomorrow's first session would be interesting.....how the Aussie pacers use the morning movement off the pitch & how the Indian batting responds. With Laxman, Kohli, Dhoni & Ashwin to come in & Dravid still holding one end up, one would expect India to pile up a healthy 1st innings lead....but then its Cricket....with glorious uncertainties.

Tune in tomorrow morning......