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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Australia bowlers save face & turn rout into fighting retreat: T3D4

Australia 408 & 2/75 (25ov, Hughes 53*, Kumar 53*) trail India 499 (132.1 ov, Dhawan 187, Vijay 153,Kohli 67*, Tendulkar 37, Siddle 5/71) by 16 runs with 7 2nd inns wkts in hand: T3D4 at Mohali.

India are still well placed to win the Test but Australia have,contrary to my (and many more experienced commentators eg Ravi Shastri's) expectations come back to a likely much narrower margin of defeat or perhaps even a draw. A win, however, looks out of the question after Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the wayward man of the first innings,redeemed himself and his team's fortunes by cutting. through the Australian top order with 8-1-25-3. Phil Hughes 53*/68b (1x6, 9x4) - on his own one minute to midnight path to redemption -
and Michael Clarke, yet to bat but
possibly laid low with injury, are the main hopes if Australia is to bat India out of the Test or, just perhaps,set them a total which might cause them difficulty if they opt for the chase instead if safety.

Today Peter Siddle lifted his game a notch or three, moving from yesterday's honest trundler to today's sharp line and length bowler.After Nathan Lyon removed Shikar Dharwan for a masterly 187/174b (2x6, 33x4) Siddle, supported by tighter if not absolutely tight bowling from his colleagues, chipped away to the tune of 29.1-9-71-5 to leave India 499, a lead of 81. A day ago, at 0/283, a lead 5 times or more that didn't look too fanciful. Only Murali Vijay, who batted on to 153/317b (3x6, 19x4), Virat Kohli 67*/129b (1x6,7x4) and Sachin 37/81b (5x4) stayed long enough to secure even that lead.

Australia's position is still,like Hughes's batting, brittle. But to give Hughes credit he's chanced his arm, mostly against the quick bowlers, and kept the spinners at bay - not always assuredly but in his own way effectively.

Another long day (100 overs) tomorrow: a big ask for Australia to bat out at least say 75 or 80 of them.
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