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Monday, March 04, 2013

Better day for Australia though India still dominant: T2D3

Australia 9/237d & 2/74 (32 ov) trail India 503 (154.1 ov, Pujara 204,Vijay 167, Dhoni 44, Maxwell 4/127, Doherty 3/131) by 192 runs with 8 second inns wkts in hand: T2/4 D3/5 at Hyderabad.

One statistic which surprised me was that almost 20,000 spectators (after c 30,000 the day before) turned up to a large and inadequately shaded (why do so many Indians eschew head covering?) stadium on a hot Hyderabad day.

I'd been led to believe that Test cricket in India was down the gurgler. On the evidence of this match so far, and making allowance for India's palpable superiority, there's life on the old format yet. Whether a succession of Australian defeats (and player rotations) will sustain levels of support here sufficient to, for example, come close to filling the expensively upgraded Adelaide Oval (from c35k to c50k capacity) remains to be seen.

Now to the match. In the first session Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara continued to accumulate runs against an attack which varied in quality from the steady to the ridiculous. I'd almost given up hope when, as lunch approached and a 400 2nd wicket partnership loomed, Vijay fell to a Glenn Maxwell ball which turned, bounced and caught the edge of his bat. 2/387, Vijay 167/361b (2x6, 23x2).

Pujara soon after reached his double century and departed for 204/341b (1x6, 30x4).

There was no Indian declaration, though the middle and lower order batted in a prodigal manner reflecting the team's lead. Wickets fell to Maxwell and the hitherto luckless ( and moderately deserving ) Xavier Doherty and the innings came to a close at 503: a huge 256 lead.

Australia's second innings began promisingly, but Ravi Ashwin, opening the bowling, regrouped after some initial rough treatment and bowled both David Warner and an ill at ease Phillip Hughes around their legs.

At 2/74,still 192 in arrears, the wicket taking spin and a brittle batting lineup (Michael Clarke excepted) it's hard to see Australia taking the fight to India for long enough to prevent a second successive loss.
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