Wednesday, December 28, 2011

28th Dec'2011 : Day 3 Melbourne

Day 3 in any test match is expected to be the best day for batting. With India starting at 214 for 3, & a solid batting line up to come, most critics predicted a long haul ahead. However, in true traditions of the uncertainties of cricket, the day turned out to be nightmarish for the batsmen.
In the very second ball of the day, with no addition to the score, Hilfenhaus rattled Dravid's off stump to start the slump. The next 7 overs produced only 6 runs, as Siddle consumed Laxman, India's most reliable bat in these conditions, caught behind, with score reading a dismal 221 for 5. Virat Kohli was next to go, caught behind to Hilfenhaus, & then Dhoni edged Hilli to Hussey at gully, as Indian total dipped to 245 for 7. With the new ball taken, the Aussie pacers were all over the famed Indian batting. Ishant, the nightwatchman, having braved the fiery attack for 69 deliveries finally fell to Hilifanhaus, as Zaks was bowled out by Pattinson. Ashwin tried some lusty hits, before Indian innings folded for 282...conceding a lead of 51 runs, as the umpires called Lunch. Had Ashwin & Yadav not added 23 crucial runs for the last wicket, India would have been in further trouble. Hifenhaus claimed 5 wickets, while Siddle & Pattinson claimed 2 apiece. Indians had lost 8 wickets for just 68 runs, allowing the Australians to come back strongly in the game.

The unexpected collapse of the Indian batsmen & a healthy lead of 51 runs probably got the Aussies overconfident, as a resolute Indian side trooped in to filed after lunch. Young Umesh Yadav was all pumped up as he bowled with fierce pace & controlled line, as Zaheer kept the pressure from the other end. Yadav ripped through the Australian batting, getting openers Warner & Cowan in the 7th over & then Shaun Marsh in the 12th over, while Ishant Sharma bowled skipper Clarke in the very next over, as the total read 27 for 4. India were right back in the game, as old warhorse Ponting & Hussey attempted to rebuild the innings.....both under tremendous pressure to perform. The pair worked hard against a probing Indian attack & at tea the score read 81 for 4. Both the batsmen reached individual milestones of well deserved 50s, adding 115 runs in the bargain, as Dhoni kept trying various options to break the partnership. It was finally Zaheer who got the breakthrough, getting Ponting to edge to Sehwag in the gully for a very well made 60 runs, & the downward spiral for the Aussies started again. Zaheer then got Haddin out, Yadav claimed Siddle, while Ashwin got Lyon, as the Australian innings limped to 179 for 8 at the end  of the day. Umesh Yadav had bowled brilliantly claiming 4 wickets, while Zaks got 2 & Ishant and Ashwin chipped in with one each. Had Hussey not survived a straightforward catch to Dravid in the slips off Ashwin, it could have been worse for the hosts, who failed to capitalize on a surprise first innings lead.

The day witnessed 15 wickets going down today for just 247 runs, as the Australians lead by 230 runs, with just two wickets in hand. If Hussey, who's batting on 79 invaluable runs, can thwart the Indian bowling till lunch at least & take the lead beyond 300 runs tomorrow, it would advantage Australia, as Indian batting has been brittle in recent times, & barring Dravid & Laxman, there is no genuine 2nd innings player, especially while chasing. If the Indians manage to restrict the lead to around 250 runs, then they should be able to chase successfully. Either ways, this test match, having swung both ways till now in a see saw battle,  is heading for a result, which will make the series most interesting ahead.
Join me tomorrow.....