MCG, day two

India are on top, but not in an orthodox way. If you look at the scoreboard you’d say that they are dominating the match. Australia only made 333 and in reply India are 214-3. When a side trail by only 119 with seven wickets in hand they ought to be well on top. India probably are, but they aren’t dominating the game. They’ve looked just a bit off through most of the day. They got a couple of quick wickets at the start, but they couldn’t get the Australian tail out as cheaply as they ought to have. Peter Siddle made 41 but when he was out it was still only 291-8. Pattinson, Hilfenhaus and Lyon conspired to put on another 42 however and lasted almost all the way to lunch.

When India finally did bat they did not look particularly settled. Gambhir made only three in a stand of 22 before edging Hilfenhaus behind. He was batting with Sehwag, so it’s not surprising that he did not dominate the partnership, but Sehwag looked a bit skittish too. He made 67 off 83, but managed to do so without ever looking really settled. This was a far cry from the Sehwag of the subcontinent. (He averages 60.91 on the subcontinent and 37.91 everywhere else.) Only once did I see him middle a ball to the boundary. Most of his aerial drives were leading edges and he was dropped three times. One of those was a pretty inexcusable miss from Haddin, who is not justifying his selection at the moment. Sehwag continually had trouble controlling the ball that came up at his ribs, but it was a fuller one that did for him. It seamed back in, took the inside edge of his drive and went onto middle stump. During all this Rahul Dravid had played in his usual restrained style. He did well, but he did still hang his bat at the odd delivery going away from him. I even saw him chase a wide one. He looked uncomfortable, but not as bad as Sehwag had done. Tendulkar came in to the usual massive (and well deserved) ovation. He almost played the second ball he faced onto his stumps before trying to gift Michael Hussey a wicket just before tea. He failed, as there wasn’t a fielder close enough. (Because it was Michael Hussey bowling the last over before tea to Sachin Tendulkar. I’m surprised Clarke didn’t have everyone on the boundary.)

India looked at their most settled after tea. Clarke seemed to have run out of ideas and Tendulkar started scoring at a run a ball. It was quite fun to watch. He went past his far more senior partner with a selection of picturesque drives. It isn’t original, but he is one of the mot pleasant players to watch. It’s actually a bit frustrating, because I really like him as a batsman and I’ve heard he’s a great bloke in person. The problem is that his fans (or at least the more vocal ones) are some of the most irritating people with whom I have ever interacted. (I mentioned on Twitter that he’s quite like Jesus in that regard.) I never want to hear about his ‘100th 100’. I never want to hear anyone suggest that he’s better than Bradman. Coupled with India’s opposition to the DRS it all makes me want Tendulkar to fail, just to avoid his fans. It’s harsh of me, I know, and I feel bad about it. Still, when he was bowled through the gate for 73 I was very happy to know that those incredibly annoying fans were very sad. (It also made for a good object lesson: Even if you are the best batsman since Hutton you still shouldn’t play across the line when the ball is doing a bit off the seam.)

The day’s play ended shortly thereafter. Tendulkar’s 73 is the highest score in the match so far, though Dravid is 68 not out overnight. Dravid settled in during a lot of Tendulkar’s innings (at one point Clarke brought David Warner on to bowl) but he was bowled off a no-ball by Siddle and after that he went back to looking unsure. It summed up India’s day: Successful without looking comfortable. Australia will have possibly their best chance to bowl tomorrow morning. The first half hour to an hour is always a bit tricky and they’ll have fresh pacemen going against a nightwatchman and an uncertain looking Dravid. Pattinson and Siddle both had fantastic spells today and they are likely to get some rewards if they continue. It will be interesting to see if India can come up with a proper lead, or if they will collapse as they did at Trent Bridge over the summer.

One thought on “MCG, day two

  1. Its that kind of wicket isnt it – you’re never really in, and bowlers can keep producing that special ball. I had imagined the batting and bowling strengths would even out and Australia would edge it in the field and by their catching – but they have surprisingly dropped a few. This will continue to be a closely fought game till the end I think.


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