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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

India v Australia - 2nd Test - Day 1 - Highlights


The first day of the second test match among Australia and India at the SCG on Tuesday was extensively took over by the Australian Team who destroyed the aging Indian batting side for within 200 on a good batting wicket, before wriggling their way out of a difficult situation and ending up on 116/3 just 75 runs short of the Indian total. India, having opted to bat first, could not see through the early freshness in the wicket and so lost wickets in groups to end on a small 191 all out. MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar made 57 and 41 respectively, the only major contributions in the Indian innings. Australia's reply was in tatters at 37/3 just before the experienced Michael Clarke (47*) and Ponting (44*) resurrected the innings and put the team in control in the 2nd test.


Not surprisingly, the pitch had a good wholesome addressing of grass to support the hosts' quick bowlers. India's captain MS Dhoni won an important toss on a fantastic day in Sydney and opted to bat first. Both captains, revealed faith in the players that took part in the first test at the MCG and opted to keep the same playing XIs for this game which meant fresh batsmen Virat Kohli and Shaun Marsh got yet another chance to prove their mettle at this stage.

After opting to bat first, India got off to a terrible start with opener Gautam Gambhir terminated for naught off the 3rd ball of the match, caught at 1st slip, looking to play around a ball seaming away, off the bowling of James Pattinson. Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag then saved fort for about 40 mins in rather streaky and circumspect fashion before Dravid (5) played a straight ball way away from his body and in the process lobbing a straight forward catch to Ed Cowan at short-leg.

Sehwag (30) was completely out of sorts too, playing and missing on numerous occasions. He was given a chance by Ricky Ponting, who dropped a sitter at 2nd slip off a healthy outside edge found by Ben Hilfenhaus. James Pattinson insured up a superb performance at the MCG with one more fine spell in this test match bothering all the batsmen at the crease. He was rewarded for the second time in the day as he found the outside edge of Sehwag's bat and this time it was safely pouched by Brad Haddin behind the wicket.

The agony was piled on further, as India's Mr. Consistent against Australia, VVS Laxman (2) departed for yet another low score nicking a half volley from Pattinson straight to Shaun Marsh at third slip.

Sachin Tendulkar was yet again India's best batsman by a distance on the first morning, looking at efficiency right from the start. He carried on from where he left off at the MCG as he drove and defended confidently both of the front and back foot. Young Virat Kohli, coming in at 6, looked confident as he was unbeaten on 12 during his brief stay in the first session. India spidered to a embarrassing 72/4 at Lunch on Day 1 with 4 well known bastmen back in the hutch on a good looking pitch.

Tendulkar and Kohli looked solid after lunch, and for the first time in the day batted with some confidence and poise. The pair added 24 runs after tea before Kohli fell to a peach of a delivery from Peter Siddle after a well made 23.

India's captain MS Dhoni coming in at 7 added some useful runs with Tendulkar at a rapid rate. Sachin was looking very good and unperturbed at the crease until he dragged on a pretty innocent looking half volley from Pattinson on to his middle stump after having made 41. Ravi Ashwin then came in at no.8 and like in the previous match looked rather assured at the crease. He combined with Dhoni to keep the Australians at fresh and keep the scoreboard moving. The final recognised pair added 54 runs before Ashwin (20) perished in the last over before tea, giving Hilfenhaus a well earned wicket after being caught by Clarke at 1st slip. Hilfenhaus then with his tail up, knocked Zaheer Khan over for a golden duck with a aggresive short ball and had India reeling on 178/8 at tea.

With two wickets remaining in the bag, India's skipper MS Dhoni decided to use the long handle and get India near to the 200 mark. He was rather effective in his method as he brought up his fifty in good style, hitting Peter Siddle for two brilliant boundaries off the back foot. Ishant Sharma, known for his dogged opposition, couldn't make a handy contribution this time close to as he was surprised by a intense bouncer from Hilfenhaus and fended it straight to Cowan at short-leg. Dhoni's optimistic method did fetch India a few runs yet the Aussies finished the innings off from the other end with Siddle getting Umesh Yadav caught behind, putting at a fine length delivery also for naught. India thys folded up for a 191 runs, 15 mins into the last session after a shambolic batting effort on a good pitch.

Australia's reply to India's whole of 191 was rocked earlier by pace ace Zaheer Khan, who dismissed David Warner (8) in the very first over of the innings. There was a rare bit of good luck to the dismissal with Warner's outside edge likely to 2nd slip where Laxman parried the catch to an warn Tendulkar standing next to him. Zaheer hit again with the first ball of the very next over choosing the outside edge of Shaun Marsh (0) with Laxman holding on this time.


Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting added 31 crucial runs before Cowan was trapped in front by a Zaheer delivery darting in. Cowan was Zaheer's third victim of the innings, all three being left handers. Australian captain Michael Clarke then came in at No.5 with Australia in trouble at 38/3 and over an hour of play left on day 1.

The captain ex-captain duo of Ponting and Clarke got charge under what appeared as if fantastic batting conditions at the fag end of the day. They scored at an excellent rate of over 4.5 runs per over getting the attack to the Indian bowlers. Clarke in particular, looked in great touch and batted with great intent from the outset and transferred the pressure back onto the bowlers. Ponting looked secure at the opposite end too, seeking to score of every option presented. The set got Australia securely past the 100-run mark in just the 24th over and both batsmen looked in little difficulty as they were closing in on the Indian total. The introduction of spin too didn't seem to affect the nicely set pair as they saw their side through to the end of the day without further loss and were eventually just 75 shy of the Indian first innings score.

Owing to a baffling collapse on what looked like an amazing batting wicket, the Indian team have likely conceded the match to the Australians, who looked in total manage right from the morning session. With Clarke and Ponting looking rather menacing, the Indians will be hoping for some divine inspiration to steer them away from what again looks like a Day 4 defeat. The Australians on the other hand could look to get a big first innings lead and bat India outside the game, and in the method set the base to go 2-0 up in the series.

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