Tag Archives: Sehwag

Sehwag shows the way in Indian victory…

International cricket returned to India four days ago. After the tragedy on the 26th last month, cricket was the last thing on people’s mind. There were arguments and counter arguments on whether the tour should continue or not. And the distractions off the field could easily have been a good excuse to be on the losing side. Not for this Indian team, though…

For over three and a half days, England was the dominant team. When they declared just three overs after tea setting India a target of 387 to win, England must have thought they had the match in the bag.

Most Indians probably believed that too – but not Virender Sehwag. His blitzkrieg yesterday did two important things that changed the tide of the match – first, it showed his team mates that it could be done and they could indeed win the match and second, it broke the morale of the English team. With around thirty overs to go for the day, England would have hoped to have knocked out 2 or maybe even three wickets and restricted India to say around 80-90 runs. India would then need close to 300 runs on the final day. On a fifth day pitch in India, that would have been a tough ask.

But with Sehwag’s onslaught, the total at the end of the day read 131 for 1 – India had wiped out more than a third of the score needed to win and they needed just 257 on the final day. Suddenly the target seemed so achievable.

And yet, with Sehwag back in the dressing room, there were several things that still pointed towards an Indian loss –

  • A fifth day Indian pitch where no team has made over 276 in the fourth innings to win a match
  • Dravid’s form
  • Tendulkar’s fourth innings average and the constant criticism that he has very rarely batted India to a victory in the fourth innings
  • An unproven Yuvraj Singh (in Tests, any way)

But there has been some transformation in the Indian dressing room under Dhoni’s captaincy that has made this team believe in themselves. This was again evident today.

Gambhir scored 66 and Laxman chipped in with 26, but the key partnership was between Tendulkar and Yuvraj, who scored the bulk of the runs. They put on an unbroken partnership of 163 runs – Tendulkar scored 103* and Yuvraj 85*. They got together when the score was 224 for 4 and a point in time when England probably still thought they could win this game.

Tendulkar hasn’t scored a fourth innings century since that 136 he scored in this very ground a few years ago against Pakistan – when he ended up on the losing side. That loss would have hurt Sachin badly as India needed just 17 runs to win when he got out. It also led to criticisms of his inability to lead India to a victory in the fourth innings. With this win, that monkey is finally off his back now.

At the end of the day, India won the game with 6 wickets in hand and romped home with more than a twenty overs to spare. Although Gambhir, Tendulkar and Yuvraj contributed to the victory, it was only possible because of Sehwag’s 83. It is not often that someone who isn’t the top scorer and who hasn’t taken any wickets is awarded the man of the match award. But such was his impact…

-Mahesh-

Advertisements

Number Trivia

25

That is the percentage of players in the 16 man squad touring India who have origins or links to the Indian sub-continent – Owais Shah, Amjad Khan, Monty Panesar and Adil Rashid. To add to that,  Ravi Bopara, Sajid Mahmood and Samit Patel have been part of the ODI squad or the Performance squad (or both).

Who would have thought that when India play England, the Indians can’t openly discuss strategy on the field in Hindi or Punjabi?

15

The number of years since England have played a test at Chennai. They lost the last game played here by an innings and 22 runs, but they haven’t done too badly here – of the 7 matches played in Chennai, England and India have won 3 each, while one game was drawn.

325

That’s the number of runs that Yuvraj scored in his last 5 ODI innings. Very impressive. But his last 5 test innings have yielded him a grand total of just 49 runs including 2 ducks. The important thing is that he is in rollicking form at the moment and will be hoping to correct the imbalance in his Test statistics.

All that depends on whether he is picked in the XI, though… 

319

Runs scored by Sehwag the last time India played at Chennai. What is more fascinating is that he scored them of 304 balls. Rahul Dravid played a long innings too – he played 13 balls less than Sehwag. His score: 111

Since his comeback, Sehwag has scored 1353 runs at an average of 61.50.  Only Graeme Smith has scored more runs (1363) than Sehwag this year.

55

The number of wickets taken by Harbhajan Singh this year. He has been the highest wicket taker for India this year, but that doesn’t tell the real story. He has been consistent but not spectacular. For most of the year he has bowled flat and quick. He is now the senior most bowler in the Indian team and he has to take his bowling a couple of notches up.

5000

The number of people deployed at the ground, the hotel and other places for security reasons during England’s stay. With Two thousand police personnel at the stadium alone, one does not have to worry about having enough spectators for the match.

I know what you are thinking – With so many police doing Test duty, would the crime rate go up in the city? The answer is No – the crooks would be too busy watching the game… 🙂

-Mahesh-

India Vs Australia :: Test 4 :: Nagpur :: Day-4

After playing adventurous and bravado-laden, aggressive cricket on day-1 and day-2, India had choked Australia almost out of the game on day-3 of this intriguing Test match. In a strange manner, India played the “new age cricket” that Australia was threatening to play all along in this series. Up until day-3 Australia had failed to execute that brand of cricket. And on day-3 when they were faced with an opposition that played new age cricket, they had no answers!

India had a hand on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and needed a few sessions more of good cricket to get both hands on it!

The 1st Session went to plan for India. Virender Sehwag and debutant M. Vijay played sensibly and countered everything that Ricky Ponting threw at them. Ponting was caught between two lands. He could not afford to over-attack. He could not afford to defend either. It is not often that Australia finds itself in this position. And today, I am not sure they got their tactics right. Jason Krejza was bowling impressively. But the Indian openers had no fears. They played him and Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson with much ease. I am not sure why we didn’t see Simon Katich!

The over rate wasn’t great either.

India went into lunch on 98-0 off 27 overs. Only 26 overs had been bowled in the mornings’ session. Was Australia the team that was supposed to be “making the running” in this match? I wasn’t sure. The run rate was hovering around 3.6 rpo. Virender Sehwag had reached his half century and Vijay was playing with much composure and tightness.

An early thought: Why not include Vijay and Gambhir as openers against England and allow Sehwag to drop in at #3 as Ganguly’s replacement?

The SBS Score reads: India-5.5, Australia-4.5;

The second session of the days’ play was a disaster for India. Of course, the Australians bowled exceedingly well and to tight lines. However, what really happened was a mindset issue.

India started after lunch in brilliant manner. Virender Sehwag was batting positively and treated Jason Krejza with disdain.

But then Shane Watson was getting some reverse swing and got M. Vijay LBW of a ball that dipped in. And this set the trend for the rest of the afternoon. At this stage, India was completely on top.

Immediately after this, Dhoni made his first major error. He sent in Dravid ahead of Laxman.

Laxman was the in-form batsman and he should have gone out to bat. Instead, we had Dravid and frankly, he made the bowlers look better than they actually were. Dravid is tentative and unsure. He needs time off in the Ranji Trophy to get his game fixed. But here, he ought to have batted at #5 or #6. India needed to carry the momentum. Instead, Dravid played right into Australia’s hands. Of course, he got out for not much.

Immediately after that Sehwag was out caught down the legside for the second time in the series. And this set the rot.

Tendulkar and Laxman batted as if they were rabbits caught in the headlights. Instead of keeping the scoreboard ticking, they slipped into a defensive mindset. The momentum had shifted.

Laxman got out to a beauty from Jason Krejza that bounced, turned and crashed into his leg stump. A brilliant ball by an enterprising bowler. Australia had a hero.

He became a bigger hero when he got Ganguly caught and bowled for a first ball duck! On his last appearance for India, Ganguly, who had received an ovation from each and every Australian cricketer on the field, was out for a first ball duck!

The man who had drama follow him all his life, had created his own drama to join the ranks of Don Bradman, who also got a duck off his last Test innings!

The last nail in the coffin was hammered by a freakish run out of Tendulkar off the last ball before Tea.

This was a nightmare session for India and, from an unenviable winning position, India was just 252 runs ahead. India had made 68 runs in the session and lost 6 wickets! I am convinced that this was triggered as much by good bowling as it was by the Dhoni decision to send Dravid in at #3.

The problem that was commenced by the decision to send Dravid in at #3 was compounded by the fact that Laxman and Tendulkar were caught in an intensely negative mindset. The just didn’t take the singles and just didn’t keep the scoreboard moving.

The SBS Score reads: India-5.5, Australia-5.5;

Indeed, at this stage, Australia looks odds-on favourite to win the match!

Was the good work over the entire series by the Indians being undone by one terrible session here at Nagpur? Was the somewhat lacklustre showing by the Indians in this last session the lifeline that this champion team from Australia looking for? Will the Australians grab it and run all over the Indians?

Time will tell. An important 3rd Session was coming up for both teams.

As much as the Indians had played badly, it is true that Jason Krejza bowled excellently well. Here was a star that was born for Australia. It is a huge call to make, but I am reasonably that, along with Ajantha Mendis, we had seen the birth of another spinning star in world cricket.

In the lunch-tea session, there was a ball tampering incident that may get the match referee, Chris Broad quite interested. Cameron White was shown plucking leather off the scuffed up side of the ball. This was just before the ball started reverse-swinging. Although Cameron White wasn’t picking at the seam, he certainly did pick at the leather. It is fair to say that he did alter the condition of the ball.

Will Chris Broad have the guts to ping an Australian though?

At Tea, just 50 overs had been bowled in the day and there was nary a breath from Mark Waugh and Nick McCrdle on this issue! Australia was 10 overs short at this stage and let’s remember that Australia was the team that had to force the pace in this match?

Is this the second issue for the Chris Brad to contend with in the days’ play?

Will Chris Broad have the guts to ping the Australian captain though?

Australia started off the post-Tea session with Jason Krejza at one end and with Cameron White and then Michael Hussey! Clearly, Australia wanted to get a move on on the over-rate! Perhaps Chris Broad had warned these Saintly Australians that he may have no choice but to suspend the Australian captain for a Test match for their over-rate recalcitrance!

With Cameron White and Michael Hussey bowling, the foot had been lifted off the pedal, it seemed. Both White and Hussey had allowed the two Indian batsmen to settle in! Gone was the reverse swing! Gone was the pressure at the other end!

But given the Australian bowling over-rate recalcitrance right through this series, was winning this Test match and retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy more important than saving the captain from a suspension?

Australia had clearly lost the plot after Tea! Australia had been sloppy in the first two sessions of the day (as they have been for well over a year now)! How they could be sloppy when they were supposed to be making the running in the game, only Ricky Ponting and the Australia Team will know. However, to compound one unprofessional mistake with the bowling of White (first) and then Hussey was just sheer unprofessional cricket from these Australians.

Someone needs to stick a Diwali firecracker up their collective backsides!

Instead of going for the jugular, they let the pressure off the Indians. About 52 minutes after Tea, India was nearly 300 runs ahead (298 to be precise). At this stage, Australia had 27 overs left to be bowled in the day, with just 70 minutes left in the days’ play. The partnership between Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh was already worth 50 runs.

This was sloppy, unprofessional cricket that was totally unbecoming of a champion side.

India consolidated its position slowly and steadily. Thanks to some poor over rates and poor bowling pair in operation as a result of this, with 40 minutes to go in the days’ play, 19 overs were left in the days’ play and the partnership was already worth 82 off 128 balls!

Once again, when it mattered most, Australia had not been able to step up to the plate in this series!

With an hour to go to the extended days’ play, Australia needed to bowl 17 overs in the day. The partnership was worth 101 between Harbhajan Singh and Dhoni. The wheels had come off the Australians carriage. Partly through their own unprofessionalism. But partly through some courageous and positive-mindset batting from Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh. The 100 partnership came off just 150 balls.

It was unfortunate for Jason Krejza really. He was bowling splendidly. But, instead of pressure at the other end, after Tea, he had Cameron White, Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke as his bowling partners! This just wasn’t good enough from the Australians. They had completely lost the plot. From a match-saving mode, India was now in target-setting mode! And it all happened in one hour of extremely sloppy play from Australia.

I think Australia lost the series in that one hour of terrible cricket post-Tea.

Finally, Shane Watson was back in the attack with 45 minutes to go to the extended days’ play and with 15 overs still left in the days’ play!

So what did the hand-off-the-jugular achieve from Australia? I just don’t know.

Against the run of play, suddenly Dhoni was out for 55 off 81 balls. He tried to sweep a Jason Krejza ball from off to leg as he had been doing all innings. The ball seemed to bounce off his boot to be cleanly and wonderfully caught by Michael Hussey. The score was 274-7. The partnership was worth 108 runs from 27.2 overs at a rate of 3.95 rpo. Krejza had his 3rd wicket for the innings. The Indian lead was worth 360 runs now.

Perhaps this match was beyond Australia’s reach now? It would need a Herculean effort from Ausralia to make it from this position. Another way to look at it would be that IF Australia make a victory from this position, they absolutely deserve to win and to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

At this stage, Krejza had conceded 354 runs for 11 wickets in the game! Only the West Indian Scott had conceded more runs in a Test with 374 runs for 9 wickets.

Soon, Harbhajan Singh had scored his half century. Once again, he was a thorn in the Australian Team’s side.

On a day when both Andrew Symonds and Ricky Ponting had their well-timed pre-Christmas book releases that touched on the “Monkeygate” episode, Harbhajan Singh had responded with the bat rather than the pen.

And what matters most is responses with ball and bat.

India’s 8th wicket was down to a freakish caught behind by Haddin off Krejza, who now had his 4th wicket for the Innings. Zaheer Khan had to go after an attempted sweep caught his glove. The resulting lob was pouched on the 3rd attempt by Haddin. The score was 286 for 8 and the lead was 372.

Immediately afterwards, Harbhajan Singh was bowled for 52 off 94 balls by Shane Watson. It was the end of a superb hand from this feisty Sikh who has taken an immense liking for the Australians of late!

This wicket begged the question: Why could Shane Watson have not continued bowling after Tea? What’s the worst that could have happened? A Ricky Ponting suspension? Was Ponting’s suspension worth more than the teams’ chances in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy?

These are questions that just have to be asked.

With half an hour left in the days’ play, Australia still had 12 overs to bowl! The White-Hussey-Clarke experiment had pulled things back a bit for Australia — but not much! Still the team was in the dog house. No two ways about it!

I’d really like to know what the Match Referee does with Cameron White (ball tampering) and Ricky Ponting (bowling over-rate sloppiness).

My sense is that Chris Broad will let both of these offenders off.

India was all out for 295 with Shane Watson getting the last wicket to fall. Watson had got 4 wickets.

Australia needed 382 for a win and 13 of these were wiped off in the very first over from Zaheer Khan! I do think that the plan for India would be to keep it tight at one end and attack from the other end.

With 4 balls left in the days’ play, light was offered to Australia and Hayden accepted the light!

When India sent in a night watchman in Delhi, Mark Waugh, Malcolm Conn and Chloe Saltau went into paroxysms, describing it as a ‘negative’ move. It will be interesting to see what their reaction is to this offering from Australia!

But more than anything else, I will be interested in seeing what the Match Referee does today.

Added later:

India had a wonderful last session of play. This was more due to Ricky Ponting’s strange and bizarre tactics. Of course, Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh played sensationally well. But Ponting’s tactics contributed immensely to the free spirit with which they played.

That last session belonged to India. The SBS Score reads: India-6.5, Australia-5.5;

— Mohan

India Vs Australia :: Test 4 :: Nagpur :: Day-3

The first session of the days’ play turned out to be attritional cricket at its very best. It was like two heavy weights sizing each other up before delivering a punch. Neither team wanted to land a blow and expose themselves to an upper cut or a hook. This is how the morning was played out.

India bowled Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan for much of the session. And almost all of what they bowled was at least a foot outside the off stump of the two left-handers: Mike Hussey and Simon Katich! For almost the entire morning, they bowled to an 8-1 off-side field!

India had decided that the runs had leaked the previous day and wanted Australia to make the running in this innings from here on in.

This was a test to see whether Australia could indeed make the running. We saw Australia adopt such — outside off-stump — tactics for much of this series when behind the eight-ball. Now it was the turn of Australia to make the running.

This tactic required a shedding of the ego. Dhoni was basically admitting that his strike bowler, Harbhajan Singh, was not capable of getting the sharp turn that Jason Krejza got. This took a lot of courage. It could also bomb badly in Dhoni’s face, but it was certainly a different tactic.

Australia did not take the bait and played safe cricket instead. The two left handers left most of the balls alone. Some of the balls closer to the stump were played straight to a fielder.

For the whole of the morning, just 24 overs had been bowled! This was really a bad over rate. Interestingly, it was the first time in the series we saw Mark Waugh frothing at the mouth about over-rates! It was also the first time that India had really offended on this count. The over-rate was really terrible and several times one wondered what the conversations were that several Indian players were having!

But India wanted to slow the game right down. And it did. Just 42 runs were scored by Australia in the 24 overs! Harbhajan Singh bowled just a few overs before lunch. Australia’s Innings scoring rate had dropped to 3.5 rpo.

One could assume that India had given up on the game — when we hadn’t yet reached the half-way stage of the game! However, another way to interpret it would be that India, with a 1-0 series lead, was asking Australia to make the running if it dared and if it wanted to! It was akin to a soccer team playing defensive, protecting a 1-0 lead. This wasn’t a strategy that one could scoff at. It was a valid one. However, for Dhoni’s sake, I do hope it does not bomb on him.

Simon Katich was dropped by Rahul Dravid in the slips off the second over of the morning off the bowling of Ishant Sharma.

Just before lunch, Zaheer Khan was getting some reverse swing and it was through that that he trapped Simon Katich LBW for a well made 102 off 189 balls. Remembering that he had made his 100 off 139 balls, his last 2 runs had taken a painful 50 balls!

But I do think that the dropped catch of Katich actually worked in India’s favour! Remember that Katich was on 92 off 120 balls at the end of the 2nd days’ play! He was dropped after facing only 5 balls today. Off the dropped catch he took a single to move to 95 off 126 balls. In other words, Katich scored just 7 runs more after the dropped catch, but ate up 63 balls for it!

It was hard to understand Australia’s tactics! Yes, they could not afford to take risks and thrash the ball around, but for a well-set batsman to take 63 balls to make 8 runs was a bit hard to understand even though the Indian bowlers were bowling an off-side line to an 8-1 field.

Australia went to lunch at 231-3 in 73.0 overs. Although Australia had only made 42 runs and lost a wicket, I give this as an even session. The SBS Score reads India-2.5, Australia-4.5;

After lunch, India continued with Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan. They were bowling to a left-right combination. This would make India’s defensive tactics that much harder.

A half hour after lunch, we hadn’t seen Amit Mishra or Virender Sehwag have a bowl in the day!

Harbhajan Singh was bowling flat and fast. There wasn’t a doosra in sight and unlike Jason Krejza, he was bowling far too straight for any grip off the foot marks.

When the 80th over was being bowled, Ishant Sharma was in the middle of a spell. Clearly the nw ball wasn’t going to be taken. At the other end, Harbhajan Singh continued to bowl. And there was still no sign of Amit Mishra, Virender Sehwag or the new ball!

Just before the post-lunch drinks’ break, Ishant Sharma bowled a truly wonderful delivery to square Michael Hussey up. The resulting edge was pouched by Dhoni and the score was 255-4. Clarke was gone for a painful 8 off 43 balls. Hussey was still there on 81 from 210 balls!

This got Shane Watson to the crease. It would be interesting to see his approach to the game. There was an opportunity for him to play the style of attacking play that he can and does play regularly.

At the post-lunch drinks break, Australia was 259-4 off 87 overs at a rate of 2.97 rpo. In that session, 14 overs had been bowled for 28 runs with the loss of 1 terrific wicket.

At the half-way stage in the Test match, Australia was 182 runs behind.

There was still a long way to go for Australia in this game. If Australia wanted to win this game, they had to play more brave cricket. This wasn’t, in my view, a win approach. Australia have to try and bat only once in this match. The match was delicately balanced.

This was gripping Test match cricket being played here. The sparring continued between these two proud competitors.

Karma struck again just after the drinks’ break! And the man that Karma struck down was Michael Hussey, the first Australian to admit that the Australians would be happy to see Gautam Gambhir rubbed out of this game!

Hussey tapped a ball from Harbhajan Singh to forward short leg and set off for a run. M. Vijay leapt to his right, grabbed the ball and threw it to Dhoni off balance. Dhoni gathered the ball and broke the stumps. Hussey was gone, run out, for 84 off 216 balls with 8 4s. Australia was 265-5 off 90 overs, still 176 runs behind.

Whatever happens from here, this was already India’s session. It was just top cricket from the Indians. After choking the Australians in the 1st Session, India was right back in the game. Ironically, it was through pace bowling and ground fielding! Who would have thought, especially after Jason Krejza’s 8-fer in India’s 1st Innings!

Immediately after, Shane Watson played on to an over-spun ball that bounced from Harbhajan Singh and it was 265-6! Watson was gone for 2 off 22 balls! Australia had lost 3 wickets for 11 runs in 6 overs!

The ball was 93 overs old and although Virender Sehwag had bowled 1 over up until then on day-3, there was no sign of Amit Mishra! The commentators were ruing Dhoni’s defensive strategy in the mornings’ play. The results were starting to make the commentators look a bit sheepish!

As I’d written in the morning itself, these were brave tactics from India. Now, if they would only tighten up the over rate!

After 47 overs had been bowled in the day, Amit Mishra came in for a bowl.

Brad Haddin was off the mark of the 25th delivery he faced. At the other end, White was on 4 off 20 balls!

In the last session, White and Haddin continued to bat well to frustrate the Indians. Haddin put on 50 runs with White before he was caught freakishly at slips by Dravid off Mishra. The remaining tail-enders put on a few more runs before Australia was wrapped up for 355. White batted well for his 46.

But truth be told. This was an amazing performance by India. It was ugly cricket all right. But in this heavy weight boxing bout, Australia had lost its way. India made sure that it shadow boxed and shadow boxed till it was given an opportunity by an opponent that had seemingly lost the ability to punch. When that opportunity was presented, India slowly but surely crept up on the champion side to come away with an 86 run lead. In the context of this game, this could be plenty.

Australia had scored just 166 runs in the day, from 86 overs, scoring at 1.93 rpo. The innings run rate was just 2.62 rpo. Australia had played into India’s hands today. Jason Krejza’s brilliant debut performance was wiped away by strange tactics from Australia’s batsmen.

This The last session belonged to India too. The SBS Score reads India-4.5, Australia-4.5;

My SBS Score reveals that the match is evenly poised. But of course, it does not take into account the future scenario that Australia will have to bat last on this pitch. Nor does it take into account the fact that Australia has to win this match, while India does not have to!

India will look to play steady and minimal-histrionics cricket for the first two sessions on day-4. Australia has its work cut out. Australia will need an exceptional 1st Session of play to claw its way back into the game. It is possible. You can never write off this Australian side although, on today’s evidence, I am not convinced that this Australian side really wants to win this match!

An exciting day’s cricket awaits us tomorrow.

— Mohan

India Vs Australia :: Test 3 :: Delhi :: Day-4

In all interviews I heard since the end of day-3, talk has been about Australia trying hard to save the game. Even Matthew Hayden, in his post-match interview, talked only about Australia saving the game. He said (and I am paraphrasing), “We know we can’t win, so we have our backs to the wall.”

I find this strange. Thanks to a superb batting display on day-3, Australia are in a position where they can win the game too! I know that this is a slim possibility, but it is probable!

Australia is only 275 behind.

If Australia bat all day today and make 350 runs (say), they will be 75 runs ahead at the end of days’ play. Another 75 runs tomorrow might mean that India will have to play last on this pitch!

Another scenario is that if Australia are all out after scoring say 50 more runs, Dhoni will need to make a choice as to whether or not to enforce the follow on (with tired bowlers in his ranks) or play on for a while and unleash a fresh set of bowlers on the Australians batting last. He may not want to give the bat-last advantage to the Australians by enforcing the follow on.

Moreover, if Australia avoid the follow-on, India will have to set a target. The target will depend on the extent of the lead and also on India’s aggressive intent. This won’t be easy.

So, I am a bit puzzled by the negative Australian attitude. They must think more than just “saving the game”, I feel. The game is still a bit open — although favouring the Indians slightly — in my view.

The absence of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble has hurt the Indians a lot in this Test match. But them’s the breaks.

The first session will be vital for both teams. Australia cannot afford to lose early wickets. Indian heads will droop if Australia bats out the first session without losing a wicket. Australias’ approach will be to bat out and see out the 1st session.

After 8 days of pressure-less cricket, the pressure is on the Indians for the first time since the Bengaluru Test. India will be looking to wrap the series in Delhi. The Indians will not want to go into the Nagpur Test just 1-0 up in the series. If India go into Nagpur either 1-0 (or worse, 1-1), the momentum could shift completely to Australia. As I maintained, in a back-to-back situation, the draw at Bangalore worked in India’s favour. So will a draw here in Delhi. The momentum will have shifted in Australia’s favour.

So the Indians will be desperate to win here at Delhi to maximise its chances of regaining the Border-Gavaskar-Trophy.

Session-1:

After a happy-birthday-tune to celebrate V. V. S. Laxman’s birthday, proceedings got underway with the talented Zaheer Khan bowling to an aggressive and recently-fined Shane Watson.

Off the 4th over of the morning, Michael Clarke was dropped at mid off by a leaping Ishant Sharma off the bowling of Amit Mishra. These catches ought to be taken. India could well pay dearly for this lapse. Mishra had the measure of Michael Clarke in yesterdays’ session and had started in pretty much the same vein this morning. However, for success, bowlers need to depend on fielders unless of course you are Virender Sehwag (two clean bowled and 1 LBW)!

The morning was going Australia’s way. The partnership between Clarke and Watson was developing well. Watson was starting to play his shots and look more confident with each ball. Mishra continued to bowl a hit-me ball every over. The dropped catch seemed to have dropped shoulders just that little bit on the field. After 8 overs, Australia had scored 31 runs with not much fuss — apart from that dropped catch — and the deficit was only 244 runs!

Ishant Sharma, the culprit of the catch let-off, came on to bowl. But with him and Mishra bowling a hit-me ball every over, Australia started to slowly but irrevocably draw closer to their first target for the day — avoiding the follow-on. Something needed to happen for India.. and soon. Watson, in particular, was batting quite well, despite the odd edgy stroke past the thinly populated slips area.

I thought Dhoni missed a trick here in not starting with Virender Sehwag, the best of the three spinners on view yesterday. Mishra was more inexperienced than Sehwag, who would have kept it tight as well.

Sehwag ultimately came in for Mishra in the 11th over of the morning. He started off with a maiden over! For India, the way to do this would have been for Ishant Sharma to swallow his ego and bowl a line outside slightly wide of the off-stump and attack with Sehwag and Mishra from the other end. However, Ishant Sharma continued to bowl and attacking line and leaked runs.

After another Sehwag maiden over, drinks was called. At drinks break, Australia had scored 57 runs from 14 overs. This was just what the doctor had ordered for Australia. Australia had reached 395-4.

Interestingly, Anil Kumble came in for a bowl after the drinks’ break! Here was a warrior striding in for his team after 11 stitches to the little finger of his left hand, with 2 of his fingers taped together, a few cortisone injections and perhaps even a plastic plate inserted to protect the left hand.

I was surprised that Kumble was allowed to bowl. Isn’t there a requirement that he had to spend as much time on the field as he did off it before he could bowl?

With Kumble and Sehwag on, the bowling was tighter and runs were harder to come by. I thought that Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra bowled quite badly this morning. For the first time in the series, the Indian bowling looked insipid and lazy — somewhat like the Australian bowling has looked this series (with due apologies to fans of the Australian team who visit this blog)!

And the tightness of the bowling caused Sehwag to bowl Shane Watson. Sehwag seems to have made up his mind to not depend on the fielders in this match! He has 3 clean bowleds and 1 LBW thus far in this game. This ball pitched well outside off stump, spun sharply and clipped the top of Watson’s leg stump. I have little doubt that the tightness of the Kumble-Sehwag bowling was what caused this wicket to fall.

We had a new man, Brad Haddin, at the crease and suddenly things were happening. There was more in the pitch, it seemed. Sehwag (at 66-4) had his best figures in a Test match. Since his introduction, Sehwag had bowled 3 maidens and had taken a wicket! Watson had departed for a well-made 36 in a partnership of 73 runs off 20.1 overs with Michael Clarke.

In the next over from Kumble, Clarke danced down the wicket to hit it over the top. The boundary gave Clarke his half-century and also brought up Australia’s 400.

In Kumble’s next over, he hit Haddin bang in front of the stumps. Hadding was a foot down the pitch, but wasn’t playing a shot at the ball, which struck him in front of middle stump! Umpires are loathe to give these balls out even though the batsman does not offer a stroke to it. I find this a strange policy.

Soon after, the follow-on target was avoided. The first target had been achieved for Australia. It was a mammoth effort from a team that had had 8 days of Test cricket under the pump and behind the 8-ball. Although they were helped by an easy pitch and by the absence of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble yesterday, this was a great backs-to-the-wall effort. The fact that all top five batsmen made a half century (with none of them, yet, going on to make a century) was an indicator of the superlative team-effort that Australia had put in.

I felt that although Kumble was bowling tight and although it was fabulous stuff from a committed Indian warrior, he missed a trick by not bowling from around the wicket and into the ‘rough’.

Sehwag was bowling brilliantly. He was showing us a complete repertoire. The top spinner, the slow spinner, flight, the one that goes straight and the faster one. It just showed how badly under-used this talented cricketer is in India.

And then, after some 85 overs since his last wicket in Test cricket, Anil Kumble bowled a slow-through-the-air googly to get Brad Haddin stumped brilliantly by Dhoni. The indefatigable warrior had struck for India. Australia was 426-6.

Haddin was gone for 17 off 35 balls with 1 four and a six.

In the very next over, Gambhir almost created a a half-chance at forward short-leg as Michael Clarke poked at a Sehwag delivery. It was a hard one to convert to a catch. The fact that Gambhir almost made it into a catch should augur well for India’s close-fielding stables.

At lunch, Australia had reached 436-6. India had bowled 31 overs and Australia had made 98 runs, losing 2 wickets. Australia had made the runs at 3.16 rpo.

In the pre-lunch session, India had bowled 31 overs. This is how teams should approach their cricket. Not in the recalcitrant, unprofessional, lazy and sloppy manner in which Australia treats the viewing spectator. And while Australia thumbs its lazy nose at the ICC establishment, the ICC goes around finding the next Asian to ping for a wrong-doing when the wrongdoers are right under its nose. What I struggle most with is the manner in which Match Referees allow and encourage such recalcitrance from Australia, the world champion team when it comes to over rates.

Australia will be happy to wipe off the deficit and reach the follow-on target. India will rue the missed catch and also the bad bowling from Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Mishra that they started off with.

Given that Australia lost two important wickets, I call this an even session too. The SBS Score reads: India 5.5, Australia 4.5!

Session-2:

Surprisingly, India started with Zaheer Khan bowling after lunch. Given that Kumble and Sehwag did all the pre-lunch damage, this decision was somewhat surprising, unless Kumble wanted to change the end from which he was bowling.

Sehwag bowled from the end that Kumble was bowling pre-lunch. So it may be that Kumble was using Zaheer Khan to help him swap ends with Sehwag — not a bad ploy.

Australia will be looking to do a Zaheer-Harbhajan-Bengaluru in this session being about 170 behind India. The closer they could get to India’s total, the better it would be for them.

A few overs after lunch, Virender Sehwag became India’s one of the most employed bowler in this innings! At this stage, Sehwag had already bowled 35 overs, which was the same number of overs that Mishra had bowled! Given Kumble’s injury and Harbhajan Singh’s absence, this was a tremendous bonus for Anil Kumble and further underlined Sehwag’s value in this team.

Zaheer Khan continued to bowl. The tactic was somewhat unclear to me although Zaheer Khan was getting the ball to tail in to the right hander.

The folly of the Zaheer Khan strategy had become more obvious as the runs started to come quite freely. One of the advantages of Kumble bowling in tandem with Sehwag was that both ends offered little by way of release of pressure. There was hardly any venom in Zaheer Khan’s bowling for the batsmen to try anything silly off Sehwag’s bowling. India was missing a trick by not bowling either Mishra or Kumble here, I felt.

After three overs of the Zaheer Khan spell, Kumble brought himself on to bowl. Australia had moved to 465-6, only 148 runs behind. The complexion of the game was slowly starting to change. At the other end, Sehwag was changed for Amit Mishra.

Australia had developed a string of partnerships — with not a single player (yet) going on to make a century — and another one was developing between Cameron White and Michael Clarke. Their partnership had reached 50 runs and the danger signal for India was that they had done it really easily!

Mishra has upped his pace and was bowling with less flight and faster through the air to try and get some purchase from the pitch. Kumble was trying, in the meanwhile, to bowl a few tight overs.

[I could not write more last night. This piece is written more for completeness and has been written a day later.]

India continued to play ordinary cricket and let off Michael Clarke a few more times before they were able to wrap up the innings.

I was disappointed by Australia’s approach. Australia batted on till it got to 39 runs behind India’s tour.With just 13 overs left in the days’ play, there was no way India was going to make the running on a pitch that was offering nothing much to the bowlers even on day-4. I thought Australia should have declared at least 100 behind. This would have forced India to make the running in this match. Remember, India does not need to win this match, although India would like to. Australia has to win this match although, by drawing this match, it keeps its hopes alive in the series. So the attacking ploy for Australia would have been to declare about 100 runs behind India’s total. Unfortunately, that was not to be. What we saw was the initiation of a defensive ploy from Australia and a continuation of this ploy by India.

I gave the 2nd session as well as the 3rd session of day-4 to Australia and so, the SBS Score reads: India 5.5, Australia 6.5!

— Mohan

India Vs Australia :: Test 3 :: Delhi :: Day-2

Honours were even on the first day till that point when the battler, Gautam Gambhir and the magician, V. V. S. Laxman started their act. Up until then, serial-spitter Ricky Ponting, embattled Brett Lee, talent-limited-and-yet-overly-talkative Shane Watson, offensively-aggressive Simon Katich, tour-passenger Cameron White and weed-killer Matthew Hayden seemed to have the measure of the Indians.

Two early wickets of the batting wizard Sehwag and the Zen-like Dravid meant that the burly and unruly Australian hunting-pack saw a door open. After the mauling that this pack had received to their collective backsides at Mohali, it was fascinating to see this hunting-pack once again circling, like vultures eyeing a dead animal. However, that door was shut initially by the mercurial and saintly Tendulkar. Once the battler Gambhir and the magician Laxman got together though, the key to that door had been lost by the confused, haggard and paralysed, yet defiant and aggressive Australian pack who continued to hunt for their prey as only hunting dogs can.

Phew! I can’t keep up this act any longer! It is hard working being a Conn, I tell you! The above paragraphs are in reference to an earlier article on this blog.

I’ll return to normal programming now!

The 2nd days’ play of the Delhi Test match is a few hours away yet. It should be a fascinating days’ play. Unlike some reports that have India way out in front, I believe that this match has many a twist left in it yet. The only disadvantage Australia has, at this stage, is that it does not have a quality spinner in its midst. Leaving out Jason Krejza and then bowling Cameron White, the preferred first-choice spinner just 4 overs was a folly, in my view.

If Australia can take a few quick wickets early on day-2 and get stuck into the Indian tail, it could be all over in a hurry. The ask would be for Australia to then bat long and hard and only once in this match! It is a hard ask. But it is certainly possible. If not, Australia would have to face quite a few overs of spin from Anil Kumble, Amit Mishra and Virender Sehwag and, on a pitch that is already offering some slow turn and variable bounce, the going will be tough for the Australians.

Its time to whip out that cliche again: The first session of day-2 is going to be crucial for both teams! The new ball is only 3 overs old and so the early morning seam could do the trick for the visitors. India, meanwhile, will be looking at a score of 400-420. Any 1st innings score in that range will be a good one on this pitch, I feel. This Kotla pitch looks very similar to the one Pakistan played in last year and in that match, 276 was the highest score in the match by either team!

Session-1:

Last night, I was thinking about the last time Australia played India at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground in Delhi. That was in 1996 in what was to be the first match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The inaugural edition of the BGT was a one-match series! If I remember correctly, Australia was on its way back home after a tour of Pakistan? I could be wrong here. Anyway, I thought about that match because India had a D. Johnson playing for it, just as Australia have an M. Johnson playing in the ongoing Test match at the Kotla!

The one thing that stays in my mind from that match, above all else, was the wild slash that Michael Slater had in the second innings to a wide ball from the Indian Johnson to be caught brilliantly by Mohammed Azharuddin in the slips. Yesterday, we had Dravid slashing wildly to a ball from the Australian Johnson to be brilliantly caught by Matthew Hayden in the slips. Although Slater had made an impressive 44 in the 1st innings of that Test match, that irresponsible second innings slash by Slater — when facing a huge 1st Innings deficit — was widely reported to be the start of the end for the talented Michael Slater. One hopes that a similar fate does not befall Rahul Dravid!

I just don’t know how that India team won that inaugural BGT with players like opener Vikram Rathour (with wicket-keeper Nayan Mongia for company, who, incidentally had a fabulous game with bat and gloves to be named Man of the Match), left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi, pace-man (debutant) David Johnson and off-spinner Ashish Kapoor against an Australian team that boasted several modern-day greats! Again, in that game, the weak Australian spinners let them down with Brad Hogg — on his debut, for Australia I think — and Peter McIntyre — perhaps on his 2nd or 3rd match. Both Ashish Kapoor (4 Tests) and David Johnson (2 Tests) would play only one more Test for India before being discarded. Yet, India won thanks to Anil Kumble!

Indeed, I remember reading at that time that an Australian player had one look at the pitch and said, “How come India is going in with only 3 spinners?“, to which an Indian journalist walking by said, “Actually one would do!

Peter Roebuck writes eloquently about that game.

Anyway, back to the game now…

Australia started with two slips and a gully for Brett Lee, who started by rapping Laxman on the pads and went on to complete a good maiden over! There was just a slight hint of movement here for the Australian bowlers to exploit. At the other end Lee’s bowling partner was Stuart Clark, who had impressive figures of 21-8-29-0 at the start of the days’ play!

In the second over of the day, Gautam Gambhir got his 150; a splendid effort from this young Indian battler. And soon after, India’s 300 was brought up by a Laxman tickle to the 3rd man fence and soon after, the 150 of the Gambhir-Laxman was brought up.

What was happening on day-2 was a repeat of day-1 by Gautam Gambhir and Laxman. Balls that were short of a good length and wide of off-stump were left alone — and there were plenty of those — while the straighter balls were played competently. In that sense, the new ball was being somewhat wasted by the Australians. In the 6th over of the days’ play, the fielders were already spread to all parts of the field. This wasn’t the start that the Australian doctor had ordered!

From a strategy point of view, what was more confusing was that instead of bowling it full and allowing for seam movement, the Australians moved to what they do best when under pressure — even shorter stuff. They used to call this “Chin Music” under an earlier Australian dressing-room phraseologist. This was, in my view, the wrong way to bowl at the Kotla, especially early on in the morning when the ball can seam a bit. I would not be totally surprised if the Indian bowlers use the conditions better.

The first hour had again yielded only 13 overs in which India had scored 46 runs without the loss of any wickets. Laxman was on 85 off 136 balls and Gambhir was on 161 off 322 balls. The partnership was worth 185 runs off 50.1 overs at a rate of 3.68. This was good going from the Indians. They seemed keen to grind out the new ball and that was just what was required.

After the drinks break, after a flurry of boundaries, Cameron White was introduced into the attack — not a bad move by Ponting, given that Laxman was on 92. What was not great captaincy though, was that White was bowling to defensive fields. There were plenty of singles on offer. White started off with a maiden over.

Soon the partnership was worth 200 runs of which Gambhir had made 99 and Laxman had made 94 off 148 balls. India had moved to 357-3 off 105.2 overs.

After a few overs of settling-in, Cameron White was starting to bowl well. There was loop and drift in his bowling and he was getting some bounce from the wicket.

Laxman moved closer to his century by crawling through the 90s. It was clear that Laxman wanted this century badly. His previous century was also against the Australians in Sydney (Jan 2008) some 8 months earlier, where he made 109. There was no walking down the track like Gambhir had, on day-1. He compiled the singles slowly and played out several maiden overs.

Australia’s tactic was to spray it wide of off stump to a packed off side field. It has been a long time since I have seen such negative tactics from the Australians. Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson had bowled a wide each. How often do you see Test match wides?

Laxman got his century off a glorious off drive, just before lunch. His century had come off 172 balls with 10 boundary hits. This was his 13th century (and 6th against Australia).

At lunch, India had moved to 393-3 off 115 overs (@ 3.41 rpo). Laxman had 104 off 174 balls and Gambhir had 191 off 362 balls. The session had yielded 97 runs off 26 overs at 3.73 rpo. The Gambhir-Laxman partnership was already worth 236 runs! There appeared to be more records there for the taking and it could get quite ugly for Australia, with Ganguly and Dhoni waiting in the wings.

This was clearly India’s session with the SBS Score reading: India 2.75, Australia 1.25!

Session-2:

I predict that this will be a go-slow session by Australia in which we could have a wide or two too. Captain and bowler would often consult in this session to perhaps discuss global hunger, the global stock market crisis, the latest Hollywood release and the price of wheat in the commodity markets! I won’t be surprised if Australia bowl less than 26 overs in this session!

India, meanwhile will look to accelerate and get to 500 as quickly as possible before Dhoni could be unleashed. This will, in all likelihood, be a cat-and-mouse session.

After starting with Stuart Clark and Brett Lee, Ricky Ponting brought himself on for a bowl — the 8th bowler used by the Australians! Gambhir was on 197 at this stage. So it wasn’t such a bad move by Ricky Ponting!

In the next over, Gautam Gambhir got his 200! The young lad had made a huge step up from a talented individual to a potentially great player. He had made his 200 off 375 balls with 25 4s and 1 huge six! At that stage, Gambhir had been batting for just over 9 hours! It was a mammoth effort from a young man who had finally arrived.

Now that Gambhir had made his double century, one could possibly expect some fireworks from the Indians. However, what we had was a tired chop onto the stumps by Gambhir. The bowler was Shane Watson, the man at the centre of the controversy the previous day! Gambhir had played excellently well to make 206 off 380 balls. Shane Watson had a wicket of his first over of the day! The partnership was worth 278 runs off 72.1 overs at a rate of 3.85 rpo with Laxman making 130 and Gambhir making 139 of these.

This got Sourav Ganguly to the crease. He had been waiting for 5 hours and 15 mins to walk into the middle! It also got Laxman and Ganguly together adding to the possibility of some interesting running between the wickets!

But soon after he came in, Ganguly played a lazy drive to be caught by Ponting in the covers off Simon Katich! The score read 444-5.

Even though Australia had captured 2 quick wickets, it appeared as if there was an air of resignation about the Australians. When Laxman was on 134, a slips catch went in between Haddin and Hayden. In normal circumstances, Haddin would have caught it. But the feet and the hands just weren’t moving. In the very next over, a firmly struck ball by Dhoni flew straight to Simon Katich, the bowler, who dropped that hard chance!

The interesting observation in all of this, from an Indian point of view, was that Shane Watson was getting some reverse swing and Simon Katich was getting spin!

Dhoni came in and played a little cameo. But after facing 29 balls for a hurriedly crafted 27, Dhoni edged one from Watson to Haddin who made no mistake this time! The India score was 481-6. The possibility of a declaration around the 550 mark was fast disappearing at this stage.

Kumble came and batted sensibly. He helped India bring up the 500 off 139 overs (3.6 rpo). The run rate was reasonably healthy. But the over-rate was quite pathetic. Even though we had two spinners — Cameron White and Simon Katich — in operation, Australia was still about 7 overs short of where it needed to be.

There were clear indications of urgency from the Indian batsmen though. And this was a good sign. The plan may be that they wanted to have about 20-25 overs at the Australians on day-2 itself.

At Tea, India was 515-6. Laxman was not out on 160 off 252 balls and Kumble was on 16 off 30 balls. That session had yielded 122 runs for 3 wickets (at a rate of 4.52 rpo) off 27 overs. Although Australia did claim the 3 wickets, I call this an even session, mainly because of the speed at which the runs came from India! The SBS Score now reads: India 3.25, Australia 1.75!

Session-3:

India came out after Tea with positive intent. Both Anil Kumble and Laxman were going for their shots. In no time at all, they brought up their 50 partnership off 78 balls. Interestingly, Kumble’s contribution to this partnership was 26 from 46 balls! The score had moved to 532-6.

India soon reached 550-6, but there was still no declaration in sight. With Laxman on 178*, perhaps his 200 was the declaration point?

Batting, however, was extremely easy. Even Anil Kumble was doing it easy. Having said that, Kumble is no mug with the bat. Yet, batting was easy here. The somewhat up-and-down insipid Australian bowling didn’t help the Australian cause. The bowling just lacked incisiveness.

At this stage, Australia had used 8 bowlers and Michael Clarke was coming in for another spell. One of the bowlers that hadn’t had a bowl yet was Michael Hussey; the bowler who bowled ahead of Brett Lee at Mohali! Figure that captaincy out, if you can!

Mitchell Johnson then got Anil Kumble out LBW for a really well made 45. The score at this time was 579-7. It was clear that a declaration was around the corner. Perhaps the target that the team had set itself was Laxman’s 200, Kumble’s 50 and the Laxman-Kumble century partnership. However, with Kumble out for 45 in a partnership total of 98 runs (from 22 overs at a rate of 4.45 rpo), all eyes were now trained on Laxman’s 200.

At this stage, Laxman was on 194. If Laxman did indeed get his 200, it would be the first time that two Indians had scored a double hundred in the same innings.

With the score on 584-7, I saw the strangest incident on a cricket field! Laxman tickled a ball to square leg and took off for a run. Billy Bowden declared that Laxman had run on the pitch and declared it a “dead ball”! Although well within the rules, that was a strange decision. More so because Laxman didn’t quite run in the danger area. To make matters worse, Billy Bowden declared the over closed when just 5 balls had been bowled! The declaration couldn’t come quicker for the Australians. But I had a feeling that Billy Bowden could do with a feet-up too! He was losing the plot here!

The batting massacre continued through Zaheer Khan who hit some lusty blows.

India finally declared the innings close at 613-7d (off 161 overs) when Laxman got his 200 off 301 balls with 21 boundary hits. Zaheer Khan had made a quick 28 off 21 balls (5 fours). The final partnership was worth 34 runs from just 5.2 overs of which Laxman just made 6 runs!

India had about 17 overs to bowl at the Australians and would possibly be looking to take a wicket or two in that time.

India started with a somewhat defensive field. Even when Ishant Sharma was bowling, India had only 2 slips and a gully! This was somewhat surprising given India had plenty of runs to play with. India started proceedings with two maiden overs.

Australia batted well to finish the day on 50-0 from 15 overs. Both Hayden and Katich played the pace bowlers competently and were watchful against the spinners. Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan — particularly the latter — did get some seam movement. However, the interesting observation was the both Anil Kumble and Amit Mishra got bite and turn from this pitch. This should make the 3rd days’ play an extremely absorbing day of cricket.

Again, in spite of extending the days’ play by half hour, the teams had bowled an over short. What was interesting, however, was that the Indian bowling rate was closer to 14 overs per hour, while the Australian over rate, despite the presence of Cameron White, Michael Clarke, Simon Katich and a brace from Ponting, was at or below 13 overs per hour. I doubt Chris Broad will do anything about it though.

Given the plunder of runs from the late order India batsmen, a score of over 600 and also the fact that Australia did not lose a wicket in the remaining time-period, I call this an “even” session. The SBS Score reads: India 3.75, Australia 2.25!

— Mohan

Indian heat too much to handle?

Is Ponting finding the Indian heat too much to handle? And I am not talking about the temperature. There is the saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Ponting, the tough character that he is, hasn’t handled the situation well, though. Here are the signs that all is not well –

  • Ponting’s captaincy: Ponting has earned praise for his captaincy in the past. But in this series, it has been uninspiring. The Australians have been very defensive in this tour so far – whether it is their batting (defensive and slow) and their bowling (again, defensive and spread out fields) – and that is a direct reflection of the captaincy. IMHO, this is the main reason they couldn’t win the first test after being on top for the most part. And it is again the main reason, they are so much behind in this test.
  • Ponting losing confidence in his main strike bowler: For one whole session yesterday, Brett Lee didn’t get a bowl. He may not have had the success with the ball in the series so far – but bowling Hussey before Lee? Australian papers have written about this in detail (see Herald Sun, The Age and everybody’s favourite The Australian) and I don’t intend to go over it again. The sooner they resolve their differences, the better it is for the team as a whole.
  • Talking the walk: Did Ponting expect Sehwag to walk when he edged it? Surely, he doesn’t expect that. Or maybe the situation changes when you are close to 400 runs behind, desperate for a wicket and the opposition player nicks it. Ponting’s reaction seemed to be just that. Coming from a person who has always defended the players right not to walk, it comes across as a bit hypocritical. Or maybe Ponting was just wishing Sehwag on his birthday and we misunderstood everything…:)
  • Does Ishant have the wood on Ponting?: Ponting’s excellent century in the first test not withstanding, is Ponting struggling against Ishant. Yesterday’s dismissal was a classic. He set him up by bowling to him a bit fuller and dragging him forward. The one that got him out was a beauty pitching outside of off-stump, just short of good length and cutting back in sharply beating both bat and pad, thudding into the stumps. He had him plumb in the first innings too with a similar delivery. I am not sure if Ishant has the wood on Ponting (yet), but there is some vulnerability there and I am sure Ponting doesn’t enjoy the first few overs when he comes into bat and finds Ishant and Harbhajan bowling in tandem.

-Mahesh-