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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Australia win aided by more doubful decisions: Second Test Day 5

Australia 463 and 7/401 dec (M Hussey 145 no, A Symonds 61, A Kumble 4/148) defeated India 532 and 210 (S Ganguly 51, Kumble 45 no, Symonds 3/51, M Clarke 3/5) by 122 runs.

Yes, Australia did play the better cricket over the five days of the game but they were fortunate to win (and by doing so to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy). Without several doubtful decisions by the umpires today it is more than likely that India would have hung on for another 7 deliveries for a draw.

The questionable decisions

In particular:

# Rahul Dravid was given out by umpire Bucknor c Gilchrist (why did he appeal so forcefully?) b Symonds for 38 when replays showed the ball passing clear of the bat.

Cricinfo described it thus:

Symonds to Dravid,
OUT, oh dear, looks like there's been another questionable decision there, Dravid given out caught behind when he padded up to it outside off, the bat behind his pad and nowhere near the ball.

Saurav Ganguly was adjudged by umpire Benson c Clarke b Lee 51.

Cricinfo described it
Clarke is adamant he caught the ball low in front of him at second slip though replays (as they often do in such situations) suggested a degree of uncertainty.

R P Singh adjudged by umpire Benson (without a second's hesitation) lbw Clarke 0 (first ball).

Singh's front pad was well down the wicket and the ball struck it above the roll so IMO it was a bold call to predict that it would "clip the top of the stumps", as the Cricinfo commentator, and presumably umpire Benson, thought. If anyone was out lbw it was Ishant Sharma next ball, but Mr Benson, perhaps contemplating the implications of a hat trick including two lbws granted by him, may have paused for a second's thought, by which time his self-imposed time frame for decision making had passed.

Of these three, the Dravid decision was by far the worst, partly because it was so blatantly wrong and partly because Dravid was batting solidly at the time.

These incidents are sure to redouble calls for greater use of technology. After today, I'm more inclined to support them.

The rest of the day's play

Mike Hussey and Andrew Symonds batted solidly and gradually increased the tempo, taking advantage of a widely scattered field, until Symonds was well caught by the - unusual for a wicketkeeper nowadays - capless M S Dhoni off R P Singh for 61/100b (7x4). Others sacrificed their wickets seeking quick runs before Ricky Ponting declared just before lunch.

I thought that the declaration may have been delayed too long to allow Australia a reasonable chance of bowling India out, but Wasim Jaffer's brief stay and lunch score of 1/6 would have given the bowlers heart.

After lunch Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and, to a lesser degree, Mitchell Johnson bowled well. Clark was typically himself and removed two of India's big four: VVS Laxman lbw and Sachin Tendulkar bowled off an inside edge. Johnson was unlucky not to snaffle Dravid caught at slip (dropped, not an umpiring mistake) but after Dravid was sent packing Yuvraj Singh, like Jaffer a fish out of water in this company, surrendered meekly.

At 5/115, and 6/137, when the pugnacious Ganguly fell for 51/56b, India could not have been too confident of saving the game, but skipper Kumble and the hitherto out of form Dhoni fought back. Dhoni was lbw to Symonds for 35. Harbhajan joined Kumble and, with the overs slipping away, looked to have saved the game. Then Ponting called upon Clarke's occasional left arm spin, Harbhajan edged him to slip. The rest is described above.

For all their disappointment India accepted their defeat with good public grace: Kumble, left high and dry on 45/111 b, led his team to congratulate the Australians on their record equalling 16 consecutive Test wins.

Now there's a 10 day break with only a scratch match scheduled. A wasted opportunity for the Indian fringe and out of form players to get some match practice before the Perth Test?


Cricinfo Bulletin

Update 6 January

The Hinduhas just posted a story headlined "India laid low by Bucknor-Benson duo".


A 'blind' Steve Bucknor and an equally erratic Mark Benson again did their bit to ensure that the second cricket Test between India and Australia would be remembered more for its long list of umpiring howlers than cricketing action.

If the opening day set the tone with three dubious decisions, the final day which saw India crashing to a shock 122-run defeat witnessed a number of horrendous decisions which proved costly for the visitors.

The series of blunders in this Test will further strengthen the demand for the use of technology to minimise human error.

Both the umpires knocked the life out of India's second innings resistance with two decisions and the visitors could not recover from the setbacks.

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