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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.


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