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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Storms in Sydney as rain and controversy deflect attention from Australian revival: Second Test Day 4

Australia 463 and 4/282 (M Hayden 123, M Hussey 87 no) lead India 532 by 213 runs with 6 wickets in hand.

On the field, Australia batted through a shortened day's play, losing 4 wickets while adding a further 269 runs in the 78 overs that rain and the umpires allowed. Off it, controversy over alleged racist remarks and continuing debate about the ethics of walking or otherwise occupied a lot of media and the the public's attention (for more examples see here and here).

Back to the match itself. Phil Jacques and Matthew Hayden rubbed out Australia's first innings
deficit and took the score to 85 before Jacques (42/82b) was caught in the outfield pulling Anil Kumble. Enter Ricky Ponting, who, on the cusp of the lunch interval, once again fell to Harbhajan Singh, who celebrated his success with a triumphalist gallop across the ground topped off with a double sideways roll.

At lunch Australia were 2/90: only 21 ahead. It was anyone's game.

Thereafter Hayden, batting with a runner (Ponting) and Mike Hussey reclaimed the initiative for Australia by judicious strokeplay, which over time wore down the Indians, especially Harbhajan who for several overs either side of lunch made the ball turn and bounce almost at will.

At 177, with Hayden 77 and Hussey 43, the rain returned. Sensibly the match schedule was rearranged, tea was taken and a final session of, notionally, almost 40 overs began soon after the rain stopped.

Hayden duly proceeded to his century, and Hussey to his 50 before the next interruption, at 213. When the 250 was posted Hayden attempted one more reverse sweep but was caught for a magnificent 123/196b (12x4). Michael Clarke was lbw first ball, leaving Andrew Symonds to avert the hat trick, which he did courtesy of umpire Bucknor, who turned down a very confident appeal for lbw (in Bucknor's defence, on this occasion, Hawkeye predicted that the ball would pass over the stumps).

With 7 overs still to be bowled the rain came back and the umpires called off play for the day, with Australia 213 in front: not enough to declare yet and, even allowing for some extra time to be played tomorrow, there's probably not enough time left to force a result. But then, the Adelaide Test in last summer's Ashes series looked dead in the water at the end of the penultimate day, and we all recall what happened on the last day then.

Scorecard

Cricinfo Bulletin
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