Australia 3/116 (26 ov, Clarke 47*, Ponting 44*, Zaheer Khan 3/26) trail India 191 (59.3 ov, Dhoni 57*, Tendulkar 41, Pattinson 4/43, Hilfenhaus 3/51, Siddle 3/55) by 75 runs with 7 1st innings wickets in hand: T2/4 D1/5 at SCG.
After India won the toss and batted, the 100th Test match played at the SCG began with a wicket off the third ball, Gautam Gambhir, caught at slip for a duck off James Pattinson. Things didn't improve much for India from that point as the Australian pace bowlers found the life in the wicket which had been widely predicted, not least by the curator, and exploited it effectively.
Of India's big four only Sachin Tendulkar really looked like justifying his reputation. From the outset he timed the ball sweetly, and looked a cut (or drive) above his teammates. When Virat Kohli (batting at 6 but definitely not one of the big four) was fifth out at 96, Sachin was 32 and it seemed for a time as if the Australian cricket follower's dream - the Little Master's much anticipated 100th century and a small Indian total - might come true.
But it , or at least the first part, didn't as Tendulkar unexpectedly and perhaps a tad loosely, edged Pattinson onto his stumps. His 41/89b (8x4) was both the classiest and, because of the anticipation we all shared and the fact that he got a start, the most disappointing innings of the day.
It was left to M S Dhoni and R Ashwin to try to salvage what they could, which turned out to be a 54 run 8th wicket partnership before Ben Hilfenhaus, who until then had bowled menacingly but wicketless, and Peter Siddle swept through the last four leaving Dhoni high and dry 57*/77b (8x4).
Pattinson took 4/43 from 14 overs, Hilfenhaus 3/51 from 22 and Siddle 3/55 from 13.3. They look a very formidable combination at the moment - the last two a far cry from a year ago.
191 was unlikely to be enough unless India's bowlers emulated Australia's, which they - or to be precise Zaheer Khan 9-2-26-3 to date - briefly did as the home batting once again wobbled in the face of some excellent and intelligent bowling from Zaheer. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma had their moments though were unable to dismiss an initially watchful and latterly fluent Ricky Ponting 44*/62b (5x4) and a belligerent from the outset Michael Clarke 47*/59b (7x4).
They day ended with Ashwin and Virender Sehwag bowling to defensive fields which helped Ponting and Clarke to milk a few easy runs. They have added 79 together and have surely put Australia on track to at least a modest first innings lead.
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A couple of other matters
- Don Bradman scored his 100th century for an Australian XI against India at the SCG in 1947. Channel 9 showed some old footage (which I've not been able to find on YouTube after a brief search) of the great man actually bringing up that ton - dispatching a slow full toss bowled (I've read elsewhere) by an occasional bowler who didn't even remove his cap. Most interesting.
- Before play began yet another redevelopment of the SCG was announced. At $185 million it compares favourably with the much larger estimates ($500m+ and still counting) for the Adelaide Oval. The SCG proposal is not for a full redevelopment, but then neither is the Adelaide Oval one. I was interested to hear someone (perhaps Rodney Cavalier of the SCG Trust?) say on ABC radio Grandstand that the trend in the USA is for smaller capacity (35,000 or so) sports arenas. Adelaide Oval can already (and did in 2010 for the Ashes Test) hold more than that. Will it ever need to hold more than it does now?