Cricket: Australia vs. India ~ Second Test

8 01 2008

After Australia convincingly won the first match of this series by 337 runs, Sydney looked set to present the Indians with their best opportunity of a win against the home side with its pitch renowned for its spin in the latter part of tests.

It soon looked, however, that the Indians may not have to wait that long to rattle the Aussies with the two early wickets, to Rudra Pratap Singh, of Phil Jaques (0) and Matthew Hayden (13) leaving the home side staggering at 2/27. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey then came together to steady the ship and take Australia to lunch at 2/95 having got the better of the bowlers late in the first session.

They were only able to add a further 24 runs at the resumption of play though, with Ponting falling lbw to Harbhajan Singh, the seventh time he has fallen to him. Hussey was next to go for 41 with no further addition to the score. Michael Clarke was dismissed two runs later, again lbw to Harbhajan, and with only 13 more added Gilchrist was out for 7 to RP Singh.

Australia had lost 4/15 in a short space of time and was reeling at 6/134. Andrew Symonds and Brad Hogg then combined to guide Australia safely to tea with the score at 6/214 with Symonds on 39 and Hogg 48.

Hogg brought up his maiden test 50 just after the break off just 57 balls and both batsmen looked set to punish the bowlers late on day 1. The left arm wrist spinner ended his innings on 79 having added 173 runs in partnership with Symonds.

Andrew SymondsBrett Lee then looked to re-enforce the suggestion that he is indeed an all rounder holding his wicket well at one end, to finish the day not out on 31, while at the other end Symonds had made his way to an exciting 137n.o. to complete what had been an excellent first day’s cricket.

Early on the second day, Australia passed 400 runs in its first inning for the third time in four test matches.

After adding 114 with Symonds for the eighth wicket Lee was removed by Kumble for 59. Mitchell Johnson delivered a whirlwind 28 runs off 30 balls, including 5 boundaries before falling to Kumble and when Stuart Clark went for a duck just nine balls later Australia had posted an impressive 463 runs with Symonds not out on 162 with 18 fours and 2 sixes.

The Indians were then forced to endure a torrid three over spell just before lunch and went to the break scoreless but with all wickets still in hand.

Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid continued their tactic of boring Australia into mistakes, again with no luck, as Jaffer was dismissed for a miserly 3 runs off an astonishing 25 deliveries. VVS Laxman came to the crease with the score at 1/8 and quickly set about making the Australians chase leather for the better part of the middle session. At the tea break, India was a handsome 1/101 with Laxman hitting an exciting 73 not out and Dravid at the other end, unbeaten on a snails pace 18.

Their century partnership came soon after play resumes with Laxman accounting for 80 of those runs, Dravid 13 and 7 extras. Whether or not Laxman said anything to Dravid about himself doing the bulk of the work I don’t know, but the next fifty runs of their partnership saw Dravid contribute 24 and Laxman just 15 with another 11 in extras.

VVS LaxmanThe pair ended up compiling 175 runs together before Dravid was finally dismissed for 53 runs off 160 balls in what could possibly be described as the most boring and frustrating half century of recent times. In the meantime Laxman had gone on to score his 12th test century and his fifth against Australia. His knock ended just two runs later having compiled a magnificent 109 runs at a time when his side most needed it with the Indian total at 3/185

When play ended on day two, India were looking set for a fight at 3/216 with Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly unbeaten on 9 and 21 respectively.

Day three belonged to India, in particular to Sachin Tendulkar. One of the main reasons Australians love seeing the current Indian team is the Little Master and he certainly did not disappoint. In partnership with Ganguly, they added 89 more runs to the tourists over night before Ganguly was dismissed on 67 to give Brad Hogg his second of his two wickets. The pair had put together a 108 run partnership with Ganguly’s 67 runs making up the majority.

Yuvraj Singh was next to go and at lunch time India had moved to 5/322 with Tendulkar unbeaten on 52 and Mahendra Dhoni yet to score.

Sachin TendulkarWhen Dhoni and India’s skipper Anil Kumble went early in the middle session of the day having added just two runs each, Australia, still leading by 118, probably thought they would have at least a session and a half to bat on the third day. Instead, what followed, was a 129 run (at over four runs an over) eighth wicket stand between Harbhajan and Tendulkar that put India 11 runs ahead. The greatest moment of the test came just before the tea break when Tendulkar realised his 38th test century and looked to the heavens in thanks.

The reception from the SCG crowd was on a par with that given for Steve Waugh’s last ball century, on the same ground five years ago. Such was the appreciation from the spectators you would have thought he had just given them each a million dollars in cash.

At tea India were 7/424, just 39 behind Australia’s first innings total with Tendulkar 106 and Harbhajan 41.

The day’s final session was as exciting as any of the ones previous in this match. Harbhajan, having helped see Tendulkar to his tonne, looked poised to score his maiden test hundred but was brought undone by Mitchell Johnson for a classy 63 off 92 balls including 8 boundaries. RP Singh and Ishant Sharma then put on handy partnerships 27 and 31 with Tendulkar before the visitors were finally dismissed for 532, with a lead of 69 runs. Tendulkar finished on 154 not out to give him an average at this ground of 326 from 4 tests.

A good spell of bowling from the Indian pace men late in the day saw Australia go into the sheds at 0/13 from five over, Jaques on 8, Hayden on 5.

Day four was frustrating by comparison with the first three in that rain halted play on four occasions. Not only does this limit the amount of play but can also mean batsmen and bowlers are unable to either get or maintain any sort of rhythm. The first of these stoppages came around an hour into the day after Australia had only managed to add an extra 17 runs to their tally from 10 agonising overs. With only 13 more overs bowled in the first session, Australia went to lunch at 2/90, having lost Jaques for 42 and Ponting for 1, again to Harbhajan – the second time in this innings and the eighth time in his career. Hayden was unbeaten on 39 with Hussey yet to bother the scorer.

Hayden and Hussey remained together throughout the middle session, the only time in this match that the same two batsmen that started a session together also finished it together. They moved the score along to 2/177 and along the way erased India’s lead to put Australia effectively at 2/108. Hayden’s score stood at 77, Hussey’s 43. Rain interrupted play once in the session

Matthew HaydenThe third stanza of the day had two rain delays but that didn’t stop Australia scoring another 105 runs, along the way losing only two wickets. Hayden went after scoring a gritty 123 runs, using Ponting as a runner from his mid 70’s onwards due to an apparent thigh injury. His partnership with Hussey was worth 160 runs. The only other Australian dismissed was Michael Clark who went next ball after Hayden’s dismissal.

Man of the Match, Symonds then joined Hussey to navigate the Australians to a safe 4/282. At stumps Hussey was unbeaten on 87, Symonds on 14 and Australia lead by 213 runs.

Much has already been written, and will be in the future, about the final day of this test.

Hussey marched on to his eighth test century and finished on 145 not out and combined with Symonds (61) for a 128 run fifth wicket stand. Kumble claimed four more wickets to go with his four in Australia’s first innings to give him match figures of 8/254.

When Ponting declared Australia’s second innings closed at 7/401, many believed that he had left it too late for Australia to be able to win the match. He had given his bowlers just two sessions and two overs to claim the ten wickets needed for victory and India a chase of 332 runs.

Jaffer was again the first Indian batsman to go, sending India into the lunch break at 1/6 after two overs. While India were highly unlikely to win the match from here, a draw seemed almost certain with first innings heroes, Laxman on 2 and Tendulkar yet to bat.

The post-lunch session was heavy going for the Indians, losing 2/73. Laxman was dismissed by Stuart Clark for 20 and Tendulkar went for a miserly 12 runs after playing on to a fuller pitched delivery, also from Clarke. Dravid and Ganguly struggled through to the tea break to keep alive India’s hopes of salvaging the draw. At the final break, India was 3/79 with Dravid on 27 and Ganguly 18.

Dravid was the first to go after tea for after he and Ganguly had added 36 runs since the interval. Yuvraj Singh was out not long after for nought with no addition to the Indian total. Ganguly and Dhoni put on 22 runs for the sixth wicket before the former was dismissed for a hard fought 51.

Kumble, the Indian captain, came to the crease with his side now precariously poised at 6/137 and the odds of an Australian victory shortening by the over. He and Dhoni put on 48 runs in a stand that soaked up 21 overs and it appeared that they may have just saved the match for India. The keeper was finally dismissed for 35 and again it looked as if Australia would steal the win from under the Indian’s noses.

AGAIN, it seemed the Indian’s were not going to let the draw slip away as Kumble and Harbhajan poked and prodded around the field, not going for big shots but rotating the strike and keeping Australia out of the match. With four overs left Ricky Ponting gave the ball to Michael Clark to bowl his left arm orthodox spin then quietly said a prayer. After not beating the bat in his first over, Ponting could rightfully have refused him a second over.

Michael ClarkAgainst better judgement though, Ponting decided to give Clarke one more chance and what a decision that turned out to be. With the first ball of his second over, Clarke got one to jump a bit more outside off stump, taking the shoulder of Harbhajan’s bat, and straight into the hands of the ever alert Michael Hussey.

The second ball of the over claimed the wicket of RP Singh. It pitched on off stump and straightened beautifully and hit the batsman just below the knee roll, no doubt taking the top of the stumps and Singh was on his way.

The next two balls, to the new batsman Ishant Sharma, were as dramatic as any ever bowled in the game. It is however, the fifth ball of the over that will live longest in cricket folk lore. Clark again pitched just outside the line of off and Ishant pushed forward at the ball which caught the outside edge of the bat. Mike Hussey was again the catcher and had to dive nearly full stretch to his right but gathered the ball beautifully and it was game over with Clark’s now famous three wickets in five balls sealing a remarkable Australian win.

Result: Australia def India by 122 runs.

Note: The author is reporting SOLELY on the excellent cricket played by both sides in this match and will not be drawn into discussion on any perceived controversies that may have occurred during the five days.

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9 responses

9 01 2008
Amit

Excellent article. I know you are not interested in discussing any details of the sordid affair, but if you want to know what really transpired on the field:

http://clean-bowled.blogspot.com/2008/01/inside-story.html

9 01 2008
Cal

Nicely chronicled report.

Just a couple of things though…

“Australia past 400” should be “Australia passed 400”, and “the second time in this innings” should be “the second time in this match”.

9 01 2008
bigredman

I actually thought I had made those edits. Thanks for the comments guys.

9 01 2008
withmalice

An excellent summation indeed. Makes me feel like I watched it… wait a sec… I did!

But in all seriousness Brad, good work – and well done on staying above the fray.

10 01 2008
Neelakantha

Wow! Cricket on Basketball site! Good presentation. I would like to share something with you.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/marlboroughexpress/4350359a6520.html

10 01 2008
bigredman

Thanks Neelakantha.

The article you pointed out was certainly very interesting reading but also quite emotive. As I’ve stated, I realise there was some controversy surrounding the match and later developments since. Not wishing to be drawn directly into an argument on the particular issue raised in your link, I will just suggest a link of my own which outlines some of the history of the relations between the players in question.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23029955-5001505,00.html

10 01 2008
withmalice

Oi Neelakantha! Not a basketball site, sports.
Yup, a lot of basketball – I like basketball… but this is a ‘general sports site’ (and a lot of cricket here, generally!)…

13 01 2008
mitchell johnson

[…] Cricket: Australia vs. India Second Test […]

21 07 2008
Sachin

It’s wrong that for 100 years cricket playing countries have been robbed of the chance to win Olympic Medals in a sport they are good at…..cricket.

Reintroducing Cricket to the Olympics at the 2012 London Games would be
perfect, as England has the Infrastructure,cricket stadiums & fans.

The exciting Twenty 20 format is ideal for the Olympics and could spur the
development of a professional league in the US and Canada ,motivate athletes
everywhere, and make cricket even more popular worldwide.

Go to http://www.cricket2012games.com sign the petitiuon
and tell your, family, friends & colleagues.

Why shouldn’t the top cricket countries get the chance to win Olympic Glory ?

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