At last Ponting caught up with law of averages in India. He is the front runner to go past Tendulkar if and when Tendulkar breaks Lara’s record for most runs. He announced his intention with a well deserved century, put for some reason couldn’t go on and firmly assert Aussie position on this test.
Remember Day one?
Hayden out in first over of the first match. Poor Goliath or what I prefer calling Big Oak, (Hayden) way have got knocked out because of combination of a very good delivery and a bad decision, he way have earned Rahul Dravid sympathies as well, but to be fair to the umpire he did turn back, a virtual tacit sign by the batsman saying Yes I have snicked this one. Ponting on the crease in first over of the day. He fight it out, but then the whole Aussie set up for this match was a defensive one, which like the last test at Adelaide which Australia played for the draw from the very first ball of the match. The Aussie never got a flying start, mean while hapless and weary Indian spinners kept batsmen in check but never threatened to knock Aussies over in a hurry. The strange mix of 8 batsmen and 7 bowlers i.e. Hayden, Katich, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Haddin, Watson and White being the batsmen and Lee, Clarke, Johnson, Watson, White Clarke and Katich being the bowlers. I haven’t seen an Aussie team with that many all rounders namely Katich, Clarke, White and Haddin. A luxury really.
Ponting kept accumulating runs. He did not plunder them; in fact his batting was a sign of things to come. He gained confidence and dashed Bhajji a couple of times. Bhajji had the last laugh though; he got his man while Ponting walked of a relieved man after scoring a priceless century against India in India. Aussies made 250 runs in the day for the loss of three wickets
Hussey man of limited resources limitless possibilities.
Hussey controls the tempo of the game a very effective player good in defence and attack. A very traditional player in every sense of the word. He too never seemingly forced the issue and kept pegging away India attack. He was helped by the poor field setting. He kept on edging Kumble only to be happy to see no second slip. If Kumble is turning it in to a left hander, at his pace and bounce second slip is a must. Hussey did show that he plays a little away from the body so a big turner of the ball someone like a Tendulkar against Hussey would be very interesting. Hussey also had a welcome century to his name. He was beautifully done in by Bhajji in the second innings.
The Aussie Bowling.
Again blessed by some help from the umpires and show sheepish strokes that Indians played, Lee & Co looked really lethal up to the point when Indians were staring at follow on from much closed quarters. But then deadly lee and company couldn’t really polish of the tail, Bhajji and Zaheer getting a good half centuries and India marched from 180 for five to 360 all out. I say a couple of dozen more runs r say a lead of 30 to 40 to the Aussies would have really tightened the screws on the Aussies.
Second Innings and tall claims of forcing the issue.
If Aussie were honest in saying that they were the only team bent on “forcing the issue” meaning playing for the result, they would be cruising at 3.5 to 4 an over rather than creeping and crawling at 2.5. The Big Oak fell cheaply again perhaps rocked the Aussie boat. Ponting this time didn’t last long, Ishant foxing him with a very good slower delivery. Katich and Hussey looked to steady the rocking boat, Bhajji on other hand looked very itchy to take wickets and salvage some pride. He got two against the run of play. Those two wicket taking deliveries very beauties. A seam up delivery an addition in Bhajji repertoire a la Mendis. Katich was foxed with one that bounced a touch too much and Hussey was foxed by a ball that was supposed to turn away from him but castled his off stump as he learnt that spinning deliveries are to be played with the bat and not with the pad. Ishant looked tremendously in control. Ishant and Zaheer troubled all the Aussie batsmen with bounce and movement.
Action shifts to Mohali, Chandigarh