Tag Archives: Ishant

India Vs Australia :: 1st Test :: Bangalore :: Day-2

At the end of day 1, the SBS score card read 2-1, mainly because of the wicket that fell in the last over of the day. From the Australian point of view they still had 6 wickets in hand and they had already scored 254 runs. Plus, Mr. Cricket was still at the crease.

From India’s point of view, a couple of early wickets in the morning could put them in front. Watson, Haddin and White – the next three batsmen had good first class batting averages, but were untested at this level. The first session was going to be crucial for both teams.

Pre-lunch session:

Shane Watson started the day positively with a single of the very first ball. Here is an all rounder who just hasn’t lived up to his potential and this was his big chance to prove that he belonged at the highest level. Sadly he lasted just 14 balls. He survived a close LBW call of the first ball of Ishant’s second over and was bowled out a couple of balls later. Australia had just added another 5 runs to their over night total and India appeared to be very much in the game.

This brought Haddin in to the crease. He started out tentatively and Ishant seemed to trouble him a bit, but he hung in there and by lunch time stitched up a fine 74 run partnership with Hussey. They went in with the score on 333/5. In spite of the early set back, the session belonged to Austalia, and the SBS score card at that stage was 3-1 in favour of Australia.

Post-lunch session:

Hussey was not out on 92 when play stopped for lunch. The spinners were not that effective -  Harbhajan didn’t trouble the batsmen a great deal and Kumble had already conceded 100 runs without taking a wicket. Ishant Sharma opened the bowling right after lunch and had an impact straight away. He almost had Hussey as a thick inside edge missed the stumps and went to the boundary to give Hussey his hundred.

Ishant’s spell was  outstanding. In his 2nd oveBut more r  after lunch, he gave India the break through they were looking for – he had Haddin caught at short cover of a slower ball and 2 overs later, White followed suit in a similar fashion. All three wickets in the day at that stage had fallen to Ishant Sharma who should be complimented for getting something out of a otherwise flat wicket that offered no assistance to the bowlers.

The partnership between Hussey and Haddin yielded 91 runs and the score at the fall of Haddin’s wicket was a round 350 runs. When White was out, the score was 362 for 7.  India was hoping to quickly wrap up the tail and should consider itself unlucky that Lee wasn’t given out LBW to the second ball he faced off Harbhajan Singh. (The BDS should read 6-2 in favour of Australia at this stage). At Tea, Australia had moved to 416 – they had added 83 runs in that session losing 2 wickets, and the SBS scorecard was still in favour of the Aussies at 3.5 to 1.5.  But more importantly, Australia were looking at a 450+ score at that stage

Post-tea session:

I am not sure what Zaheer had during the Tea break, but whatever it was did the trick for India. In the two overs he bowled after Tea, he had Lee, Johnson and Hussey all clean bowled. The Aussies finished up with a score of 430. 9 of the 10 wickets had been taken by the fast bowlers and only one went to the spinners (and even that was a debatable decision). Kumble went wicketless even after conceding over a hundred runs and Harbhajan was just ordinary. The fielding was also very ordinary through out the day and  the Indian fans were really hoping for a good batting performance from the Indians.

Sehwag and Gambhir did not disappoint – they were aggressive and yet careful (except for the running between the wickets – which seemed very risky on a couple of occasions). In the 18 overs they played before rain interrupted the game, India had reached 68 without losing any wickets – which was pretty good going. Sehwag finished the day on 43 and Gambhir is on 20.

Sehwag in particular looked very confident and he may well hold the key to how well India respond to the Australian total tomorrow. The post-tea session belonged to India and the SBS score card should read 3.5-2.5 still in favour of Australia. There was one close shout for LBW, which hawkeye seemed to indicate would have clipped leg stump – Most umpires in the world wouldn’t have given that out, but let us modify the BDS scorecard as Australia 6 – India 3.

Notable mentions:

  • Hussey’s innings was just sensational. Without Hussey holding the middle order and the tail together, the Aussies would have been all out for a far lesser score. He is not known as Mr. Cricket for nothing..
  • Zaheer took a five-for, something that doesn’t happen often enough on Indian grounds. So, well done, Zaheer.

The first session is going to be very crucial for India. They may be 68 for no loss, but they are still well short of the Australian total. All we need is another big hundred from Sehwag tomorrow…and some good support from the other batsmen 🙂

What I like about the current ODI team

Opening pair

Granted, Tendulkar and Ganguly were one of the best, if not the best opening ODI pairs for India and even the World. But Sehwag and Gambhir are doing very well at the moment. I love everything about them – the right/left combination, their stroke play, Sehwag’s explosiveness, Gambhir’s maturity…

If they continue their current form, they are all set to become a formidable opening combination in World cricket.

 Batting depth

The batting depth hasn’t been really put to the test yet, but with Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar, both all rounders coming in at No. 8 and 9 respectively, it looks very strong. Chawla at No. 10 is no rabbit with the bat either.

The Bench

When you see good players warming the bench, you know there are even better players in the playing XI and that is a great thing.  With guys like Uthappa, RP Singh (although Ishant was rested for the Bangladesh game) and Gony sitting out, you know the team is doing well.

And guys like Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid, Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh aren’t even the team (due to a variety of reasons).

All rounders galore

The team now has Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan who are what I would classify as bowling all rounders – people who can bat a bit and bowl their full quota of 10 overs. Then there are the batting all rounders – Sehwag, Yuvraj and Yusuf Pathan. Even Rohit Sharma and Raina can chip in with a few overs. And last but not the least, the captain – MS Dhoni who can bat and keep wickets. This is one of the main reasons, India has a good batting depth at the moment.

Flexible batting order

I think the current batting order is a fairly flexible one. Barring the opening pair, I think the rest can come in any order. There is always the argument that batting orders shouldn’t be messed around with, but it seems to work well in Twenty20 and I don’t see why it shouldn’t work here.

Age

Sehwag at 29 years is the oldest member of the team. Everyone else is 26 or under. In fact, six of them are 21 and under. This again bodes well for Team India. Isn’t it wonderful that although the team is young, it does not seem to lack experience.

-Mahesh-

Team India for Bangladesh Tri-Series and Asia Cup

In a week from now, Team India travels to Bangladesh to take on Pakistan and Bangladesh in a tri-series ahead of the Asia Cup, which will also include Sri Lanka.

We at i3j3Cricket had predicted the team makeup and there were no real surprises when the selectors announced a team that was not too different from the one that had won in Australia in February/March this year. Given Sachin Tendulkar’s withdrawal, R. P. Singh’s return to the fold and Dinesh Karthik’s slide, the team make up was not too surprising. Some IPL performances were rewarded — notably Yusuf Pathan and Pragyan Ojha.

The team that has been selected has a balanced and youthful look to it. I will not be surprised if the team that takes to the park on June 10th (a week from now) against Pakistan is (in batting order):

Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Robin Uthappa / Suresh Raina
Yuvraj Singh
Rohit Sharma
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Yusuf Pathan
Irfan Pathan
Piyush Chawla / Pragyan Ojha
Sreesanth / Praveen Kumar / R. P. Singh
Ishant Sharma

On current form, this is, in my view, a very strong team. The opening combination is a winning combination.

— Mohan

IPL lives up to the hype

The Hype

If anyone believed that the IPL and the “Cricket ka Karmayudh” was all hype and nothing else, then all they had to do was watch the inaugural game between the Kolkatta Knight Riders and the Bangalore Royal Challengers to see how wrong they were. And why wouldn’t it be a big success? Throw in a lot of money, bring in the best players, and play the most entertaining format of the game in front of a cricket crazy crowd and you just can’t go wrong.

The Inaugural game

Granted, the names of some of the teams in the IPL sound a bit corny and the inaugural game itself was one sided, but what a game it was.

In just the first game, McCullum broke the record for the highest individual score in the game’s short history with a score of 158*.  And when Ishant Sharma, the new Indian bowling sensation took out Rahul Dravid’s stump with his first ball, any “challenge” the Royal Challengers had left wilted away.

Cricket set for  change

IMHO, the tournament itself is going to change the way cricket is played across the world. Test cricket may not be under threat from T20 cricket, but I feel that One Day cricket is under serious threat. Why would you want to play 50 over a side game, when you can get much better entertainment value playing just 20 overs a side? I asked the same question after the success of the T20 World cup and I am asking the question again – Why would you want to continue playing One day cricket? It is only a matter of time, when the 50 over game is relegated to just 1 or 2 matches in a series.

Team affinities

It is still early days for the tournament and I am sure people across India are still trying to chose their favourite stars and teams. I for one, am still undecided. I naturally gravitate towards the Chennai Superstars, as Chennai is where I grew up. But sometimes, where you live may not decide which team you root for. Have any of you decided which team you are going to support?

-Mahesh-

India win to even series

India won the match and managed to even the series. And, Dhoni won his first game as captain.

After the game, I tried to look back at the turning point of the game. Was it Ganguly’s 87 in the first innings, the 46 runs India added for the last wicket or even Sehwag’s double strike of Kallis and Smith? I think what contributed to India’s win was all of them put together – combined with the return of Ishant Sharma and India’s overall bowling effort. Even the part time bowlers chipped in with five wickets.

It hasn’t been a great series, though. I didn’t quite enjoy it the way I enjoyed the series played in England and Australia. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way. In any case the series is finished and IPL is scheduled to begin shortly. Can’t wait for that to happen…hopefully it won’t disappoint.

-Mahesh-

Bad loss

What a bad loss. Being beaten by an innings and 90 runs – that too at home – It’s gotta hurt. Not just the fans, but it must hurt the team members too.

India needed to bat out of their skins to save the game, but they didn’t. Sehwag started with a couple of sixes, but left in a hurry. When Dravid got out, the writing was already in the wall (pardon the pun). Jaffer went soon after and then it was left to Ganguly and Laxman to stop the slide. They started putting on a partnership and as it happens so frequently, Laxman got out against the run of play with his score in the thirties.

Ganguly and Dhoni tried to prolong the inevitable, but a poor umpiring decision put an end to Ganguly’s innings. Dhoni scored a fighting fifty and Pathan chipped in with some runs, but India was well and truly beaten.

India have made a lot of progress in the last year or so – one big loss shouldn’t take that away from them. But they seem to play better when they are the underdogs. The favourites tag doesn’t sit well with them – every time they are pronounced the favourites in a tournament or match, they seem to put in  a poor performance. I don’t think anyone would consider them to be the favourites in this series anymore…

In the series so far, Kumble hasn’t been his usual self and the fast bowlers have been ineffective. Ishant Sharma’s inclusion should boost the bowling. But it was the batting that let India down. The decision on whether to go with the extra bowler as they did in this game or pick Yuvraj as an additional batsman is going to be tough one. Will have to wait and see how this one unfolds.

But it is time for India to forget this match, regroup and try to level the series in Kanpur. India may be ranked No. 2 in the World, but at the moment they don’t look anything like the second best team – not by a long shot.

-Mahesh-

Bring on the Proteas

Now that the Australian tour is over, we can start looking forward to cricket with another challenging team – South Africa. Here is the fixture:

  Venue Dates
1st Test Chennai Mar 26 to 30
2nd Test Ahmedabad Apr 3 to 7
3rd Test Kanpur Apr 11 to 15

 

The last test series between the two countries was a very close one that India eventually lost 1-2, but this time India have the home advantage and SA have to reckon with a team high on confidence. India also have a good mix of experience and youth to pull it off.

So, should we start speculating what the Indian team make up would be?

Openers

I think Sehwag should be an automatic choice and we shouldn’t let his ODI form affect his test chances. Jaffer and Karthik both failed in Australia, but I would imagine that Jaffer being a regular opener would get the nod ahead of Karthik. Chopra and Gambhir would probably also be in the selectors radar, while Dravid and Pathan have an outside chance of being considered as an opener.

Middle Order

Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman are probably automatic choices. Ganguly would probably get the nod too. If Dravid opens the innings, then there is an opening for Yuvraj Singh or Rohit Sharma in the middle order. Gambhir could also be considered. A lot of our readers have expressed an opinion that Badrinath should be considered. I would be very surprised if the selectors made such a bold move (although it wouldn’t be a bad one!) Dhoni will of course don the gloves and come in to bat at No.7

Bowlers

Kumble is an automatic selection and if you are playing in India, Harbhajan Singh is another automatic selection for the second spinner spot. Zaheer Khan is still injured and the other two bowling spots would probably end up going to Ishant Sharma and RP Singh. If the track does take a lot of spin, then including a 3rd spinner (Piyush Chawla) may not be a bad idea, with Pathan opening the batting and also sharing the new ball with Ishant Sharma.

So, here is the final team –

  • Sehwag
  • Jaffer/Pathan
  • Dravid
  • Tendulkar
  • Ganguly/Yuvraj Singh
  • Laxman
  • Dhoni
  • Kumble
  • Harbhajan Singh
  • RP Singh/Chawla
  • Ishant Sharma

That makes up the 14. Not much different from the team that toured Australia, but why should it be?

(I know, I know! – I will probably get a lot of flak for including Yuvraj Singh in the test team 🙂 )

-Mahesh-

The Pyjama Cricket circus commences…

In a few days from now the pyjama stuff starts with the Twenty20 game at the MCG on Friday 1 Feb 2008 between Australia and India.

The Australians have lost a few Twenty20 games on the trot to India and will be gunning for the visitors. There is no love lost between these teams. With the recent downgrading of the racism charge against Harbhajan Singh, there will be much more at stake than just the game. The Australians will want to win badly.

The Indians will not have four of their five senior stalwarts. Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V. V. S. Laxman will have departed. In their place, we have a few fiery youngsters from the “New India”. They have said, even before the opening salvo has been fired, that they will fight fire with fire!

Robin Uthappa has said that he would “give it back if the Australians sledge”!

Controversial paceman, Sree Santh added to the rumbles when he said, “I’m not scared of anyone. On the contrary, I think Australia should be scared of me because I’m back. And I’m back after a rest too.”

We live in interesting times! We are set for a cracker of a game and a cracker of an ODI series after that!

Even though R. P. Singh has been withdrawn through a hamstring injury and even though Zaheer Khan is absent from the make-up, I believe that this is a well-balanced team. The Indian team has a good look to it in my view:

It is likely that the following will be the Indian Twenty20 team (in batting order)

Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Rohit Sharma / Dinesh Karthik
Yuvraj Singh / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary
MS Dhoni
Robin Uthappa
Irfan Pathan
Praveen Kumar
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Ishant Sharma / Munaf Patel
Sree Santh

If Yuvraj Singh is injured, I’d think that India would find it hard to beat Australia at the MCG. I suspect Sachin Tendulkar will sit out the Twenty20 game.

One thing is certain. With the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, et al, in the mix, the visitors’ fielding and the running between wickets is certainly going to be much better than what we have seen in this summer thus far!

The ODI team is likely to be (again in batting order):

Gautam Gambhir
Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag / Rohit Sharma / Dinesh Karthik
Yuvraj Singh / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary
MS Dhoni
Robin Uthappa
Irfan Pathan
Praveen Kumar
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Ishant Sharma / Munaf Patel
Sree Santh

Hopefully we will be entertained. Hopefully we will see no new controversies. Hopefully the cricket will be memorable for the right reasons.

— Mohan

Australia v India :: Test 2 :: Day 4

Day-4 of this Test match started with much anticipation and drama.

‘Anticipation’ because we had the prospect of a terrific days’ play ahead for both teams. Either team could get ahead on this day.

‘Drama’ because of the racism-charges levelled against Harbhajan Singh overnight.

The pre-match talk and commentary, unfortunately, focussed on the racism-drama rather than the brilliant cricket on day-3 or the prospect of an exciting day-4.

Both teams needed to start well and the first hour was going to be crucial.

Strangely, though, after three days of 29,000+ crowds, the 4th days’ play saw a thin crowd in attendance at the start of proceedings. Perhaps the threat of rain had kept the crowds at home?

Posting at 11.30, AEST

At the start of the days’ play, 5 overs had been bowled. At the end of 8 overs in the innings, Australia was 22-0. The Aussies had started steadily.

Ishant Sharma was bowling into the wind and angling it wide of the left handers’ off stump. Meanwhile, R. P. Singh was bowling with the wind, but it wasn’t aiding him take the ball away! So, perhaps these two bowlers had started from the wrong ends!

The opening bowlers’, though, maintained the pressure on the Australian openers. The score read 30-0 off 12 overs at the end of the first half hour; a half hour in which 7 overs had been bowled. This was a much more respectable over rate than the sluggishness we saw on display yesterday!

Australia was still 39 runs behind. This was unusual for Australia; something that the team wasn’t perhaps used to.

Despite the attacking field, runs were hard to come by. India was employing a field with 4 slips, a gully, point and short cover! This was attacking cricket from Anil Kumble, supported by good bowling from the bowlers. Perhaps the Australian batsmen weren’t being asked to play at much, but they were being kept quiet despite the attacking fields.

R. P. Singh was bowling to an incredible 8-1 offside field! The legside fielder was at straight mid on! This was making Hayden walk across to the offside to push the ball to the legside. He even tried a lap-sweep shot once off R. P. Singh! There were some close plays and misses, as a result! This was amazing, gripping Test match cricket. Who would break first in this cat-and-mouse show?

Unfortunately, at this point (11.15, AEST), rain won the battle. Australia was still 30-0 and were 39 runs behind. Despite the wind that was around, that could blow the rain away, this rain looked bad for cricket!

Posting at 12.30, AEST– Lunch Time

About 18 minutes was lost to rain. Play resumed at 11.33 AEST. Ishant Sharma commenced proceedings after the rain break. The bowling continued to be tight. But more to the point, the sun was out!

Jaques and Hayden were starting to bat a bit more freely as the score approached the 1st innings deficit.

The batsmen were batting with more freedom and the bowling was looking a bit more ragged. Anil Kumble replaced Ishant Sharma. It won’t be long, one thought, before we had a double spin attack. Sourav Ganguly was another option too. But all morning, one felt that the two pacemen bowled from the wrong ends. This was a trick missed by the Indian captain.

Soon, Australia erased the 1st innings deficit. There was the start of a minor momentum shift here. Australia had reached the 1st innings deficit without losing a wicket and had taken the early honours! The openers started cautiously and then started to accelerate a bit. This was good cricket.

Harbhajan Singh came on to bowl, as expected. We had a double spin attack. He started off by tossing it well and at about 82kmph to Phil Jaques, from over the wicket. The breeze was behind him and that might assist the Turbanator with any drift that he might secure. To Hayden, however, Harbhajan Singh bowled a bit faster through the air and from around the wicket.

With the score on 85, just when things were going well for the Aistralians, Phil Jaques top edged a sweep off Anil Kumble to Yuvraj Singh at deep midwicket after making 42 runs. Australia was, in effect, 16-1. Anil Kumble had also picked up his 100th wicket against Australia.

Ricky Ponting came out with a bit to prove. He had “dobbed in” Harbhajan Singh the evening before. Harbhajan Singh also had got the Australian captain on 7 occasions in the past. So there was a lot riding on this Ponting innings!

Off the first ball that Harbhajan Singh bowled to Ricky Ponting, Ponting spooned a catch to silly point. The Australian captain was gone, caught Laxman bowled his tormentor for just 1 run!

Harbhajan Singh proceeded to run all around the park and completed his run at point, with his whole team runnning behind him! He ended his celebration run with an ugly sommersault! No doubt, this run and celebration will be ridiculed and derided by Peter Lalor and Malcolm Conn and thatwonderful editorial team at The Australian!

But why not celebrate? The man had been pilloried in the press overnight. Judgement had already been passed by several in the Australian press! He had been “dobbed in” by the Australian captain at the end of days’ play yesterday. He had an introduction with the Match Referee coming up at the end of days’ play (now shifted to the end of the match, at the Indian teams’ request). Yet, he had the Australian captain out 5 times off the very first ball he had faced from the Turbunator! Yes, that is correct! The wily Indian offie had got the Australian captain out five times off the very first ball that he had bowled to him. This was now way past bunny territory! In my view, it was also way past embarasing territory!

Australia went to lunch, 90-2 off 28 overs (effectively at lunch, Australia were 2 for 21)! Hayden was batting quite well on 39 off 85 balls.

I give this session to India for the 2 wickets that India took and for the fact that Australia was, effectively, 21 for 2! The SBS score, at this stage, reads India, 6.0 :: Australia, 4.0.

Posting at 14.40, AEST — Tea time

Terming Ricky Ponting as Harbhajan Singh’s “bunny” may well become a slur against rabbits out there!

Or, perhaps we can now, instead of saying “He was like a rabbit caught in the headlights”, merely say, “He was Pontinged”!

Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble commenced proceedings, as expected, after lunch. They started with attacking fields. There was a long mountain to climb. The Australian team had a terrific group of batsmen after Hayden and Hussey.

Harbhajan Singh was bowling brilliantly. He mixed his pace as well as his flight and was extracting spin and causing some problems. If Hayden continued to attack Harbhajan Singh, this could become an interesting tussle. What was heartening to see was that Harbhajan Singh wasn’t bowling like a bowler under the Match Referee’s scanner! He was bowling without the buden of a post-match-hearing on him.

Australia soon reached 100-2 and led by 31.

In my view, about 6 overs after lunch, Anil Kumble wasn’t bowling that well. It was perhaps a good time to throw the ball to Sachin Tendulkar. At the other end, although Harbhajan Singh was bowling from over the wicket to the left handers. Hayden continued to throw in a few reverse-sweeps too. A few overs of around the wicket from him may not be a bad idea, on thought. Afer 37 overs, Australia moved too 122-2 and led by 53. Hayden was on 55 and Hussey was on 13. This was good batting by the Aussies. The partnership was already worth 39 off 12 overs at a run rate of 3.3!

With the score on 133-2, Hussey survived a huge shout for LBW. Hussey was well back and was struck low on his pads. That ball would have hit the middle of leg stump! The Australians had yet another reprieve in this match from umpire Benson! In the same over, even Matthew Hayden had a huge LBW appeal turnd down. The Indian team, after playing some really attractive cricket in this game, needed some help from the umpires. But the incompetence of the white coats continued!

The partneship between Hussey and Hayden soon reached 50! Finally, Harbhajan SIngh changed to bowling around the wicket to Hussey. The LBW was in play now — that is of course, if the white coats come to the party!

At the drinks’ break, India had bowled 17 overs in that hour. THIS was professional cricket. Not the trash that was thrown up by the Australians in this series so far, in terms of over rates!

Australia had reached 151-2 (a lead of 82-2) off 45 overs. India had already bowled 40 overs in the day and were only 5 overs behind the rate, even though nearly 20 minutes were lost to rain!

Hayden was batting majestically on 66 off 123 balls and Hussey was on 29 off 67 balls.

Finally, after drinks, Sachin Tendulkar came on to bowl. He had replaced Kumble. He bowled a mixture of off-spin and leg-spin. Although he didn’t appear too threatening, he asked a few questions every now and again!

Matthew Hayden, who pulled up short when going for a sharp single earlier on, finally gave in and got Ricky Ponting in as his ‘runner’. It appeared, from the way Hayden pulled up there, that Hayden may have pulled/torn his hamstring.

Harbhajan Singh, after starting off at a ball-pace of about 82kmph was suddenly bowling at 89kmph. He wasn’t allowing the ball to loop and grip the surface as much as was, initially. Soon, Australia stretched its lead to to 100. The score was 169-2 and R. P. Singh replaced Sachin Tendulkar.

This was not a bad move because there was a bit of cloud cover about and we had just seen a bit of drizzle about. Moreover, the ball may have just started to reverse swing just a bit. R. P. Singh was now also bowling at the right end — the end from which he got his 1st innings wickets. He was bowling from the end he got all of his 4 first innings wickets. He was bowling into the wind which would assist his out-swing.

Anil Kumble replaced Harbhajan Singh at the opposite end and was now bowling with the breeze blowing across his right shoulder. Rain was always threatening to spoil the party. Just before the umpires and players disappeared off the ground, Yuvraj Singh dropped a very hard chance to his left. He jumped up to catch the ball, but could not get the ball to stick. It was a dropped chance!

Australia went to the rain-break (tea taken early) on 177-2 off 50.2 overs. The scoring rate, at 3.51 runs per over, wasn’t as high as one would expect — at least, not high enough for Australia to press for a declaration on day-4 itself! Hayden was on 77 off 141 and Hussey was on 43 off 81.

I give this abridged session to Australia because they did not lose a wicket and had oved to being 108 runs ahead. My SBS score reads India, 6.0 :: Australia, 5.0.

Amazingly, even now, all three results were possible!

Posting at 18.25 AEST– End of days’ play

After the extended tea-break, Australia started positively once again. R. P. Singh and Anil Kumble started proceedings.

On 188-2, India suffered yet again at the hands of the umpires. Once again, there was a healthy legside snick and Hussey was caught behind. The confident appeal from the Indians was turned down by Mark Benson, who chose it fit to deliver Mike Hussey his 3rd innings in the same dig!

The partnership was worth 101 soon enough with Hayden batting on his second dig and Hussey on his 3rd dig! The lead was 122. The Indians were right to feel robbed their dues. Steve Waugh implored the Indians to not concentrate too much on umpiring blunders, but with constant reminders like these it was hard for the Indians to forget the tremendous effect the whitecoats were having on their bid to defeat the Australians.

Australia moved to 201-2 off 56 overs, with the lead stretching to 132. Soon Mike Hussey reached his 50.

Harbhajan Singh replaced R. P. Singh and was now bowling into the wind.

Off the next over Matthew Hayden reached his second century of the series. The two batsmen had batted well together and staged a purposeful batting recovery and Australia had reached a lead of 141 after being 69 runs in deficit. Hayden had closed off 2007 with a century and had, now, started 2008 with a century. Despite a hamstring strain, Hayden continued to play the sweep shots and continued to play spin well. This was a top effort under pressure.

In the very next over, a steady drizzle meant that play was called off again. Once again, there was an interruption to the days’ proceedings. At this stage, a draw seemed to be a favourite, unless one the teams had a brain explosion and do an England-in-Adelaide!

It seemed like the Australians were trying to get a move on with a view to increasing the scoring rate. There was a much greater urgency to their batting after the rain delay. Perhaps a declaration was on the cards after all! Anil Kumble, meanwhile, was appearing altogether angry and “uptight”, to use a turn of phrase that he used against his batsmen after the MCG Test! He wasn’t releasing the ball all that well. Perhaps he was trying just a bit too hard? An over or two of Yuvraj Singh’s left-armers may not be a bad thing, one felt.

Australia led by 167 runs with an hour and a half left in todays’ game! Australia was moving into the drivers’ seat. India, meanwhile, had gone on the defensive. Gone were the clutch of close-in fielders. Kumble seemed to want the Australians to make a mistake!

At 17.30, AEST, the scheduled close of play, Australia was on 247 for 3 off 70 overs. Hayden was out for 121 off 147, gone to a reverse sweep off Kumble! Hussey was on 69 off 148 balls. Hayden was clearly wanting to get a move-on. Kumble’s tactics of choking the run flow may have worked here. Was there yet another twist in this game?

Given that 92 minutes were lost in the days’ play, this meant that India was 25 overs short of their days’ quota of overs. A quota that India would have quite easily completed! This brings into greater focus the slow over rate of Australia on day-3.

Michael Clarke was out first ball, caught extremely smartly in the slips by Dravid off Kumble, who was on a hattrick! Clarke moved back and tried to cut a googly that grew big on him. He edged to the slips and Dravid completed a very smart catch. Clarke had made his first duck (a 1st ball duck, at that) in his 30-Test career!

Symonds walked out to face the hattrick ball.

The hattrick ball was a big shout for LBW that was turned down by Bucknor. Symonds had taken a big stride forward and that perhaps saved the day for the Australian and denied Kumble his hattrick. The ball was stright enough. Perhaps the height saved Symonds in the end! There was a bit of a carry-on out there thoughn between Kumble and Bucknor at the end of that over.

The Indians who have been on the receiving end of a truckload of wrong/bad decisions in this match would perhaps have gladly traded the option of a whinge on all of them if Bucknor had given that LBW appeal. Alas! That was not to be!

There was no sign that the Indians would bowl anyone other than the two spinners. Of the 74 overs, Harbhajan Singh had bowled 24 and Kumble had bowled 26! And these guys would need to bowl much more before the day ended, one felt. The new ball would soon be due. There was perhaps little chance that it would be taken immediately.

The spinners were bowling well. Their tails were up and there was a lot of chat going on. Symonds had already gone on for 16 balls without opening his account!

Australia reached 261 for 4 and led by 192. There were still 10 overs left in the days’ play.

Hussey was playing extremely well on 80 (off 170 balls), which is his Test batting average — a phenomenal average for someone who has scored over 2000 runs in Tests! He worked hard agsinst some quality spin bowling and built his innings brick by brick. It was, like Hayden’s innings before his, a workmanlike innings.

Yuvraj Singh came in to bowl the 80th over and the lead stretched to over 200. Yuvraj Singh was hit for a few and wasn’t able to get any purchase from the pitch. The idea was, perhaps, to switch ends for the main spinners. While Harbhajan Singh was switched, Yuvraj Singh continued to bowl the following over.

In the 83rd over, Kumble got Ishant Sharma to bowl. The umpires offered the light to the batsmen who took it! This was quite pathetic from the Australians!

I make that an even session, given that India took those two wickets and given that Australia walked away with some 4 overs to go, when offered a bad-light stoppage! Perhaps Australia did not want to win that hard! The SBS score reads India, 6.5 :: Australia, 5.5!

–Mohan

India done in by umpires, groundsmen and bowlers…

I am not one that normally complains too much about umpiring decisions. “Take it on the chin” should be the mantra.

However, after a shocking day in the office for Simon Taufel and, to a slightly lesser extent, Rudy Koertzen, I feel compelled to write. When an umpire of Simon Taufel’s standing and capability starts makes a series of shocking errors, it is quite likely that calls for technology to be used would become more strident.

In yesterday’s game, it is fair to say that the Indian bowlers bowled erratically. On a pitch that was unresponsive — apart from some balls that kept alarmingly low — the Indian bowlers ceded the advantage by being a tad erratic. The spin was slow and was mostly unresponsive to spin. So, one cannot blame the bowlers too much. However, one could expect the Australians to throttle the batsmen with line-and-length bowling, thereby getting the batsmen to make errors. One did not see the Indian bowlers adopt a similar approach. However, having said that, one could mount an argument that Younus Khan and Mohammed Yousuf were ejected in an “Australian manner”. The former, an attacking batsman, was throttled for runs by Harbhajan Singh (bowling around the wicket) and played a horrible reverse sweep. The latter, a dour batsman, was eked out by a sledge — from Anil Kumble no less! One doesn’t know what was said, but words were exchanged and two balls later, Mohammed Yousuf was on his way!

That apart, I felt that the main bowlers tried too much on a pitch that did not allow them that luxury. Ironically, it was Sourav Ganguly that showed how a wicket could be taken on a pitch like this. He bowed stump to stump, giving nothing away. In the end, Salman Butt poked at a delivery and was caught behind. The rest of the bowlers had an ordinary day at the office on a pitch that seemed alarmingly like the Kolkatta graveyard that was prepared for the 2nd Test.

I feel that two groundsmen have, together, done Indian cricket a great disservice just prior to an important tour against Australia. However, being a part of a cricketing system that lacks the capacity to look beyond the immediate future, the groundsmen would perhaps expect a hefty bonus from the BCC!

Apropos, a bad-day-at-the-office, apart from the Indian bowlers and the groundsman, Dinesh Karthik would want to forget his shocker of an appearance! Parthiv Patel shouldn’t be blamed for checking yesterday if his passport is in order. I can’t see Dinesh Karthik on the plane to Australia.

The umpires had shockers yesterday. There were at least 7 LBW appeals that the umpires could have gone India’s way. In one terrific spell of bowling, Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan created plenty of problems for Misbah Ul-Huq and Faisal Iqbal with the new ball. Misgah Ul-Huq is plain lucky to be there. He was plumb in front on at least 6 occasions. Faisal Iqbal was also let off once. Poor Ishant Sharma was at the receiving end of about 4 of these bad decisions. Sharma kept bringing the ball back in at pace to the right handers and troubled the batsmen in this spell of bowling. If the selectors had been there to see this spell, they may have well inked him in the team-sheet for Australia. Irfan Pathan suffered at the hands of Rudi Koertsen. Two overs from the close, Anil Kumble was at the receiving end of yet another shocker from Simon Taufel. One can only hope that these two gentlemen get up on the right side of the bed on day-4.

— Mohan