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Friday, January 04, 2008

Game and series on at last as little big man stars: Second Test Day 3

Australia 463 and 0/13 trail India 532 (S Tendulkar 154 no, VVS Laxman 109, S Ganguly 67, Harbhajan Singh 63, B Lee 5/119) by 56 runs with 10 wickets in hand.

India exceeded my (and probably many other cricket followers's) expectations by batting through most of the third day. More to the point, they led Australia by 69 runs on the first innings thanks principally to the contributions of their big four: Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman yesterday, and Saurav Ganguly and the little big man Sachin Tendulkar today.

Today Ganguly led the way with an aggressive 67/78b (7x4, !x6) before holing out to midwicket off Brad Hogg. Tendulkar watched as Yuvraj Singh, M S Dhoni and Anil Kumble succumbed to Brett Lee's pace and persistence before Harbhajan Singh joined him to add 129 for the 8th wicket which put India's nose in front. R P Singh and Ishant Sharma turned the nose into a couple of lengths before Lee (32.2-5-119-5) ended the innings with a deserved fifth wicket.

Tendulkar was left unvanquished on 154/243b (14x4, 1x6). His was yet another top quality innings at the SCG (not that he's been a slouch elsewhere, but the Emerald City ground clearly brings out the best in him). It looked very good on TV, so good that I wished that I'd been there to watch his strokeplay from the perspective of a seat in the stands (the varied angles and multiple replays of television are fine to confirm one's first impressions but can't always convey the exciting immediacy of seeing good strokes played). Another good thing about Tendulkar was that he had enough faith in his lower order partners to let them, contrary to received wisdom, have their head (ie share of the strike).

The Indian batters, that is the four best ones with support from the tail, have brought their team back into the game, which is now evenly poised. The Australian attack, or some members thereof, looked a bit threadbare in the face of determined resistance, judicious (occasionally injudicious) aggression and Tendulkar's strokeplay. Australia will now need to wipe off the deficit, then try to build a lead sufficient to give India food for thought or cause for concern on the final day, if the threat of rain, which didn't materialise today, allows the match to run its scheduled course.

Scorecard.

Cricinfo Bulletin
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