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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

India regroup to overcome Australia by 7 wkts: T2, D5

India 495 & 3/207 (45 ov, C Pujara 72, S Tendulkar 53*) beat Australia 478 & 223 by 7 wickets: T2D5 at Bangalore. India win series 2-0.

After getting to a competitive position yesterday today Australia offered scant resistance to India and were heavily defeated as their bowling deficiencies were ruthlessly exposed by debutant Cheteshwar Pujara 72/89b (7x4) and, once again, Sachin Tendulkar 53*/77b (2x6, 7x4).

Scorecard .

More to follow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Indian batting suffers from Post-Tendulkar Stress Disorder as balance swings : T2D4

Australia 478 & 7/202 (65 ov, R Ponting 72) lead India 495 (114.5 ov, S Tendulkar 214, M Vijay 139) by 185 runs with 3 second innings wickets in hand: T2D4 at Bangalore.

Given their plight at the start of play Australia did very well to get back into the match by taking the last 5 Indian wickets for 9 runs, though once again inconsistent batting against good bowling on a pitch which was starting to show its age diminished their advantage.

First Sachin Tendulkar. After a near death experience on 199 he took the 200 which was there for the taking but, perhaps not surprisingly as this was the third day he'd been batting, he didn't go far beyond that milestone. At 214 he dragged one from Peter George onto his stumps.

214/363b (2x6, 22x4)
pretty much speaks for itself but if you'd watched the innings develop you'd have appreciated that this was a master batting.

6/486 became 10/495 as the Indian tail didn't wag and some Australian bowlers, notably Nathan Hauritz who added 2/0 to his overnight 0/153, improved their figures. A pity that Ben Hilfenhaus wasn't among them: 1/77 (from 31 overs) was a poor reward for his persistence.

As now seems to be their custom Shane Watson and Simon Katich opened with a good stand, though both were out at 58 as the Indian spinners started to take control. Over everyone except Ricky Ponting that is.

Ponting's 72/117b (1x6, 7x4) was, with all due respect to Tendulkar (who'd played the innings of the match) , the innings of the day. In what might well turn out to be his last Test innings in India he took the game right up to the bowlers. Neither Harbhajan Singh nor Pragyan Ojha and it was Zaheer Khan who eventually dismissed him lbw.

But Australia was, at 6/181, only 160 ahead. Tim Paine who'd batted quite well for 23 followed at 185 leaving Mitchell Johnson and Hauritz to hold the fort until stumps.

Even though the wicket isn't easy to bat on a lead of 185 isn't, given the respective strengths of India's batting and Australia's bowling, enough. 220- perhaps- and 250 - better still- might be enough for the visitors to effect a remarkable turnaround.


Fox Sports report & link to video highlights

The Hindu report
Times of India report

Cricinfo Bulletin

Monday, October 11, 2010

Australia's advantage lost as Tendulkar and Vijay hammer Australia: T2D3

India 5/435 (122 ov, S Tendulkar 191*, M Vijay 139) are 43 runs behind Australia with 5 first innings wickets in hand: T2D3 at Bangalore.

If you get a chance, watch the highlights of this day's play, in which Sachin Tendulkar played a masterly innings of
191*and with Murali Vijay 139 added 308 for the 3rd wicket.

The day's proceedings began with Tendulkar hititng two fours from the hapless Nathan Hauritz's first four balls. India didn't continue in this vein but there were flurries of aggression against the Australian bowlers, Ben Hilfenhaus excepted, intermingled with quieter passages of play.

For the third consecutive day no wicket fell in the first session as India added 96 from 26.4 overs and Tendulkar, to nobody's surprise, passed his - 49th in Tests -century. Nor did a wicket fall in the second session as Vijay passed his - 1st in Tests -also.

Eventually Mitchell Johnson had a tired looking Vijay caught behind for 139/310b (2x6, 14x4). 3/346: still some way for India to go but it was hard to imagine Australia clawing back from there.

Spare a thought for Cheteshwar Pujara
. After waiting for so long to bat (and for his Test debut) he got off the mark with an elegant cover drive to the boundary only to be given out lbw to a ball which Hawkeye confirmed would have hit leg stump.

Suresh Raina, as the situation demand, made a breezy 32/43b (5x4) before holing out to mid on off Michael Clarke, who like Simon Katich bowled a few overs. I couldn't understand why Marcus North, who after all dismissed Tendulkar for 98 in T1, didn't get a bowl.

Back to Tendulkar. For a 37 yo showed few signs of fatigue let alone lapses of concentration. He stayed with MS Dhoni, who must fancy his own chances of getting a few runs on this track against this attack, until close of play when he was 191*/319b (2x6, 20x4) and India clearly with the upper hand despite the 43 run deficit.

Sachin will no doubt be looking at posting a personal 200... and more, and giving India a substantial lead. It's almost impossible to see how Australia can win from here: An India victory or a draw are the likeliest outcomes.

If you can, watch Sachin bat today.


Fox Sports report with link to video highlights

Times of India report

Crinfo Bulletin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tendulkar passes 14k Test runs and overshadows North century & Australia's 428: T2D2

India 2/128 (34.2 ov, S Tendulkar 48*, M Vijay 44*) trail Australia 478 (141 ov, M North 128, R Ponting 77, T Paine 59, S Watson 57, Harbhajan Singh 4/148) by 350 runs with 8 1st inns wickets in hand: T2D2 at Bangalore.

Marcus North and Tim Paine saw Australia to a comfortable total, which India, after losing Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid early, made look less comfortable. For Australian supporters the highlight of the day was North's welcome return to form, yet for many of the large local crowd present it was Sachin Tendulkar passing the 14,000 Test runs milestone: the first to do so.

For the second day running Australia batted through the opening session without losing a wicket. North solidly fluent and Paine, generally solid but with a slice or two of luck (he was caught behind off a no-ball from an atrocious shot), added 99 from a slowly delivered 24.1 overs before the interval. In the second session they took their partnership to 149 and the total to 405 before Paine was stumped off Pragyan Ojha for 59/133b (8x4).

The Indian spinners persisted and worked their way through the tail. North hit out and was caught in the deep for 128/240b (1x6, 17x4): the others followed soon after. 478 looked an OK total, especially after the early innings wobbles.

Sehwag began with his customary pizzazz but he played a cameo when a longer innings was needed. He was caught in the deep off Ben Hilfenhaus for 30/28b (1x6, 4x4) and was soon followed by Dravid, caught off Mitchell Johnson for 1.

Murali Vijay and Tendulkar have so far added 90 for the third wicket. Sachin has batted well for his 48*/88 (6x4) but he obviously needs to add many more. The Australian attack looked a bit threadbare: debutant Peter George sprayed the ball round more than a bit, while Nathan Hauritz, despite bowling some good balls, didn't trouble the batters much.

Are, I wonder, India prepared, after only two days, to settle for a draw?


Fox Sports report & link to video highlights

Cricinfo Bulletin

Saturday, October 09, 2010

India peg back Australia after good start: T1D1

Australia 5/285 (85.5 ov, R Ponting 77, S Watson 57) v India T1/2, D1/5 at Bangalore.

Australia, mirroring their first innings at Mohali, prospered in the first session then wobbled before regrouping to reach a total which needs augmenting on D2 to set the strong Indian batting a stern challenge.

The sun wasn't out in Bangalore (aka Bengaluru) when Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat It didn't emerge for the rest of a day and contributed, together with India's decision to take the new ball, to an early finish.

Both sides were weakened, though India for whom VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma were unable to take the field, were more so. For Australia Doug Bollinger was unfit and was replaced by Peter George, the first South Australian to appear in a Test since, I believe, Darren Lehmann in 2004 .

Once again Shane Watson and Simon Katich laid a good foundation by batting through the first session. The Indian bowling was generally steady without, as 0/95 from 27 overs suggests, often looking threatening.

But good times for India were just around the corner. Immediately after lunch (if that's an apt term for an interval starting in the late morning) Harbhajan Singh had Katich caught at slip for 47/95b (7x4), then Pragyan Ohja spun one which Watson gloved to MS Dhoni. His measured 57/88b (9x4) seemed, after T1, almost a failure, but of course it wasn't, even if 2/113 was a reality check.

The Indian spinners persisted. Ricky Ponting was positive, especially against his longstanding adversary Harbhajan, but Michael Clarke didn't settle in and was well caught by Suresh Raina (an excellent allround fielder) at backward short leg off Harbhajan for a modest 14. Ponting and Michael Hussey, both looking good, restored some equilibrium,moving the total from 132 to 189 at tea without further loss.

In the first two sessions the Indian frontline spinners bowled 19 0vers apiece (and Sehwag had already turned his arm over). But then it was Zaheer Khan's turn. At 198 he had Hussey caught in the gully for a pugnacious 34/45b (4x4). Enter Marcus North whose reputation and career were on the line.

North looked good by his recent standards, but I, not that I wished him ill (quite the contrary) was waiting for him to slip up. But I'm pleased to say he proved me wrong, batting through the rest of the day for a solid 43*/89b (4x4) .

The real surprise was that Ricky Ponting was the only other wicket to fall, and the great disappointment was that it was taken by the occasional offspinner Raina. Ponting drove and pulled well. He hit some balls in the air but I only noticed one that went near a fielder. His 77/147b (12x4), classy as it was, and given the manner of his dismissal (Hawkeye showed the ball barely clipping leg stump, which a UDRS appeal might have disallowed) , was disappointing.

It was also disappointing that there was a lot of booing from the considerable (at least compared to Mohali and most Commonwealth Games events) crowd when he was out.

5/256 was a modest total; 5/285 at stumps only marginally less so.
Ravi Shastri, presenting the pre-match TV pitch report, opined that the wicket would be at its best on D2. If he's right, or even if he's not, Australia need at least another 120 runs.


Fox Sports coverage & link to video

Times of India report

Cricinfo Bulletin

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Laxman leads India to one wicket win in T1

India 405 & 9/216 (85.4 ov, VVS Laxman 73*, B Hilfenhaus 4-57) beat Australia 428 & 192 by 1 wicket: T1/2 D5 at Mohali. India lead series 1-0 and retain the Border- Gavaskar Trophy.

The injured V V S Laxman, batting with a runner, and helped by Ishant Sharma at the other end, converted what at 8/124 seemed an impossible position into a victory by the narrowest of margins.

He moved from 25/30b to 73*/79b (8x4) adding 81 for the 9th wicket with Sharma who ground out 31/92b (8x4) before being adjudged (wrongly according to Hawkeye) lbw by umpire Gould. No11 Pragyan Ojha was also lucky to survive a very confident appeal for lbw which umpire Bowden turned down (ditto Hawkeye) before the match was won, and the tension relieved, with two leg byes.

Australia must have felt that they'd done the hard yards after building on the overnight 4/55 and regrouping to dispose, in quick succession, of Sachin Tendulkar ( well caught in the gully) for a measured 38/64b (5x4)), MS Dhoni (sharply run out in a mixup with Laxman's runner) and Harbhajan Singh (caught in the slips off his gloves) . Doug Bollinger was the chief destroyer, but he didn't reappear after lunch because of injury (might, I wonder, another spell from him have produced a different outcome, even if it meant that he'd miss T2?).

The Australian bowlers and fielders persevered, but nothing could stop Laxman after he got a start (he looked a little restricted in his movements early in his innings). Nathan Hauritz, who was expected to take advantage of the D5 pitch, dismissed nightwatchman Zaheer Khan but thereafter Laxman saw him off. Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus bowled some good balls, while Shane Watson and Marcus North bowled a few overs - not poorly, but neither is a frontliner - as India approached the target. Perhaps Michael Clarke or Simon Katich could have had an over or two

The second Test starts in four days. It'll be interesting to see how many of the injured from both teams are able to take the field then. Australia's best hope of pulling back may be if neither Laxman nor Sharma is able to play. Bollinger's absence would weaken Australia and the selectors will need to think hard about whether to play Hauritz or rely on North, who failed twice with the bat, or perhaps Steven Smith, for the spin bowling. I suspect that Australia's reserves are not as strong as India's.

It would be good to see another Test as enthralling as this one has been, and also to see the authorities recognise that Test cricket is not dead, even if its audience, judging from the poor attendance at this one, is mostly confined to television viewers like me.


Fox Sports report & link to video highlights

Times of India report

Cricinfo Bulletin

Monday, October 04, 2010

14 wickets in day, though late Australian revival sets up tight finish : T1 D4

India 405 & 4/55 (17ov) need 161 more runs with 6 wkts in hand to beat Australia 428 & 192 (60.5 ov, S Watson 57): T1/2 D4/5 at Mohali.

Another intriguing day's cricket with some good batting and a lot of good bowling saw India wrest the initiative from Australia before, chasing what looked like an achievable target, they faltered again. Tomorrow should see one side win: a draw (though not a tie) is out of the question.

For a time, as Shane Watson piled on and Simon Katich accumulated runs, it looked as if Australia would build a substantial lead. But when, with the total 87, Watson played on to Ishant Sharma the wheels began to fall off Australia's innings. The captain (another failed pull shot) and vice-captain (bamboozled by Sharma) fell cheaply while Katich held the fort. Mike Hussey contributed to the defence but after Katich fell for 37/118b (2x4) at 137 India's grip tightened as the bowlers made it hard for the middle and lower order to score.

Zaheer Khan delivered the coup de grace with two great balls which accounted for Nathan Hauritz and Ben Hilfenhaus. This left Australia, having lost 10/105, with a disappointing 192 and India a target of 216. Watson's 56/59b (1x6, 7x4) was the highest score of the innings (and the day). The wicket didn't play easily but Watson showed that many of its demons could be, if not cast out, then tamed.

About this time Cricinfo's Facebook page reported
"It's all happening in Mohali ... Australia have lost wickets in a heap and it is India who are on top."
Hubris gave way to a partial nemesis as Australia fought back to have India 4/55 at stumps. Ben Hilfenhaus may have been lucky to get Gautam Gambhir lbw for a duck (one of several questionable umpiring decisions from a pair who hitherto had been pretty good) but he and the other bowlers kept the pressure on. Virender Sehwag (a modest, by his standards 17/23b) , Rahul Dravid and Suresh Raina couldn't reproduce their first innings form.

But Sachin Tendulkar is still there with a watchful 10*/25 (1x4). M S Dhoni and the injured V V S Laxman (beware the injured batsman?) are still to come so India should not be written off.. just yet.

Scorecard .

Fox Sports report and link to video .

Times of India report

Cricinfo Bulletin .

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Australia struggle but India blow chance of 1st inns lead T1D3

Australia 428 lead India 405 (108.1 ov, S Tendulkar 98, S Raina 86, R Dravid 77, V Sehwag 59, M Johnson 5/64) by 23 runs on 1st innings: T1/2 D3/5 at Mohali.

At tea India had lost only two wickets during the day (one of them the nightwatchman) and at 4/280 looked set for a comfortable first innings lead over Australia. But it didn't turn out that way. The Australian fielding was below par and the bowling had lacked pentration. Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina seemed determined to have their team well in front by stumps, then some rash strokeplay against bowlers who had found their second wind saw them lose 5/23 and concede a mall first innings lead.

After Ishant Sharma had irked the Australians by hanging around for 18/56b Rahul Dravid 77/134b (12x4) and Tendulkar added 79 together beforeTendulkar and Raina strengthened India's platform before tea. After the interval they disdainfully took to the Australian bowling until Marcus North against the run of play trapped a perhaps overconfident Tendulkar lbw for 98/189b (13x4). A vintage innings : yes, it deserved a century.

Nevertheless at 5/354 India still looked well placed. But M S Dhoni, after a couple of imperious strokes, edged Mitchell Johnson to first slip. Shane Watson wasn't sure whether he'd taken the catch, but the third umpireSanjay Hazare (on the evidence of a limited number of replays) decided that he had. 6/382 then 7/382 as Harbhajan Singh edged his first ball to the keeper. Johnson missed his hat trick but soon after bagged Raina, who until then had, like Tendulkar, looked set for a century, for 86/128b (14x4). Nathan Hauritz offset some ordinary bowling - too often too wide of off stump - with a couple of late wickets

It was an amazing about turn. Australia looked gone for all money: chances and half chances were missed and shoulders drooped. The pitch is still playing well so the game is still open. After another day like today I'm not game to make any predictions but will watch D4 with much interest.


Fox Sports report & link to video highlights

Times of India report

The Hindu report

Cricinfo Bulletin

Saturday, October 02, 2010

India in hot pursuit of Australia's 428: T1D2

India 2/110 (21 ov, V Sehwag 59) trail Australia 428 (151.4 ov, S Watson 126, T Paine 92, R Ponting 71, Zaheer Khan 5/94) by 318 runs with 8.1st innings wickets in hand. T1/2 D2/5 at Mohali.

Australia probably did as well, if not a little better, with the bat than they would have expected at the start of the day's play, reaching 428 with a combination of grit and aggression. In the last session India came out pugnaciously, scoring at 5.23 runs an over (cf Australia's 2.82) putting the wind up their opponents before two late wickets shifted the advantage back to Australia.

In the first session Australia added 1/74, though lost Shane Watson for an extremely accomplished (notwithstanding that second ball chance) 126/338b (10x4).

Tim Paine was batting with more assurance and with Mitchell Johnson added 82 from 20overs before Johnson was caught behind off Zaheer Khan, clearly the best Indian bowler over the innings, for an ebullient 47/66b (3x6, 5x4).

7/357 became 10/428 as Tim Paine took over and the Indian fielding lost its zest (and some of the bowling its accuracy). Having done the hard yards and moved within sight of a century Paine was caught in the slips for an initially gritty, subsequently more fluent, 92/196 (12x4) which put Australia on top. At least for the moment .

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir began well , the former batting fearlessly, the latter more circumspectly, long enough to worry (though not rattle Australia). Yet both were out before stumps to Johnson: Gambhir lbw for 21/45b (2x4), Sehwag miscueing for 59/54b (10x4).

While Australia are in the better position it's still relatively early in the match. How will India's strong batting respond? Does Australia have the bowling to dismiss them twice?

I feel that India have made it easier for Australia, most notably by dropping Watson from the second ball of the match. but the match is still there for the taking. A draw is also still a possibility as the pitch doesn't seem to have deteriorated: it played better than on D1.


Fox Sports report & link to video highlights

Cricinfo Bulletin

Friday, October 01, 2010

Classic Test cricket: Aust on top early but India claw back to gain ascendancy T1D1

Australia 5/224 (90ov, S Watson 101*, R Ponting 71, Z Khan 3/45) v India T1/2 D1/5 at Mohali

A day of quintessential Test cricket.

First acknowledge Shane Watson, who rode his good fortune of being dropped at second slip from the second ball of the match to underpin Australia's modest 5/224 with 101*/279b (8x4) .

Then note how the match developed:

Session 1: 1/101, 28 ov
Session 2: 2/78, 29 ov
Session 3: 3/45, 33 ov.

Ricky Ponting's 71/124b (10x4) was the connoisseur's choice though Watson's persistence and extra 30 runs will count for more at the end.

The Indian fielding was sloppy at first - some of the batting legends were lead legged - but recovered when Suresh Raina ran out Ponting and took the wind out of Australia's sails.

Pragyan Ohja's slow left arm bowling spun occasionally and kept the visitors in something like check before Zaheer Khan came back in the last session to take a couple of vital wickets and give India the upper hand.

The wicket kept low, which doesn't augur well for the side batting last, and Ishant Sharma is injured so to stay in the game India will need to take the last five Australian wickets cheaply and use its batting firepower to post a competitive total, which IMO would be a lead of 150+.


Fox Sports report (inc video highlights)

Cricinfo Bulletin