Monday, December 26, 2011
Tight Boxing Day contest though Australia struggle to post big score
Australia 6/277 (89 ov, Cowan 68, Ponting 62) v India T1/4 D1/5 at MCG
An intriguing day's Test cricket: interrupted by rain but nevertheless attended by 70,000 spectators. The play wasn't always of the highest quality, yet there were some good combative passages, not least the unbroken 63 partnership between Peter Siddle 34* and Brad Haddin 21* which put a gloss of respectability on Australia's total.
Once again the top order didn't deliver consistently. Both Shaun Marsh and Mike Hussey went for ducks: Marsh clearly caught in the gully off the quicker than we'd been led to believe (or I'd picked up watching on TV) Umesh Yadav; Hussey adjudged caught behind when the technical aids available to everyone except the umpires suggested otherwise.
But around these low points there were some moderately high ones, notably Ed Cowan' s 68/177b (7x4) on debut and Ricky Ponting's return to (in some commentators' eyes, but not my rose tinted specs, a damned with faint praise sort of) form. Without his 62/94b (6 x4) and the 113 he added with Cowan for the third wicket Australia would hardly have been able to reach the just above subsistence level they appear to have done.
I say that bearing in mind the on paper strength of the Indian batting. Their four bowlers fluctuated in both accuracy and penetration: Yadav made the inital breakthroughs, Zaheer Khan came back with two wickets in successive balls, while Ramichandran Ashwin , who I thought should do well here with his height and spin, lacked the sharp edge of consistency (read too many looseish balls) to keep the batsmen in check. Only Ishant Sharma went wicketless but his 20-6-40-0 were important: the hirsute tearaway of four years ago has trimmed his sails (and hair) to the current situation.
Watch tomorrow's play if you can.