Posted by: nestaquin | October 11, 2008

Border Gavaskar Trophy: First Test Day Three Lunch

An outstanding first session has Australia well poised to continue its domination of India as the home team slumped losing four wickets for only 65 runs in the session. Australia outplayed India with relative ease, not only winning the tussle on the field but also the battle of wills and minds.

Australia began the day with Johnson and Lee bowling quick and deliberately and the Indian top order had no answer to the sustained pressure from either end. Johnson finished with the spoils snaring the wickets of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Laxman, each of them cannily deceived.

Lee deserves much of the credit too. He troubled all the batsmen and was unlucky to not pick up more than the wicket of Gambhir, with quite a few edges landing short of the men behind the wicket.

Gambhir was the first to go, playing across the line to a beautiful around the wicket delivery from Lee which straightened off the pitch. It is perhaps the most difficult ball for a genuine quick to deliver and it was reminiscent of Freddie Flintoff in his pomp and Asad Raul had no option but to raise the finger.

Sehwag followed soon after suckered into a wide full one off the bowling of Johnson. It was an injudicious shot from the Delhi daredevil especially after the departure of his opening partner just two overs previous.

For reasons only known to the batsman he stood his ground even though Hayden gloved the catch waist high and Rudi Koertzen appeared less than amused in having to raise his finger. Remembering his unprovoked comments to the press about perceived Australian dishonesty before the match began one can only think of glasshouses and flying projectiles.

With the pressure mounting and Australia ebullient, Dravid did his best to run Tendulkar out calling him through for a single to cover and then after a few strides down the wicket sending him back. Clarke swooped with Sachin mid-pitch but in his enthusiasm rushed his throw which shaved the top of the stumps.

What looked like a costly miss, however, didn’t matter as Tendulkar was deceived with only 13 beside his name. Johnson who bowled a long penetrative, intelligent spell, pitched two quicker deliveries short of a length squaring the Little Master up before releasing a full, wide slower off-cutter that was lobbed to the safe hands of Cameron White at shortish cover.

With his bowlers firing and plenty of runs to play with Ponting had the luxury of setting the fields to his liking and it was obvious from the outset that the brains trust had done their homework. Every batsman had a different field setting and Tendulkar’s wicket was a prime example of the bowler and skipper working to a plan.

Ponting placed two men either side of the wicket, one at short cover and the other at short mid-wicket, both in the peripheral vision of the batsman in the hope that with the slow pitch a catch might be scooped in their direction.

Combined with the two slips and gully, a prowling Clarke forward of point, regulation mid off and mid on and a man on the deep square-leg boundary, Sachin found it dangerous to score even when the bowlers erred in length or line. It was fine captaincy and a wonderful result for the bowler and team.

Australia’s fielding was, as you would expect, world class with Brad Haddin setting the standard in a faultless, efficient and acrobatic display behind the timber even when standing up to the stumps to Stu Clark.  A very difficult task, as I’m sure you all appreciate, on a two-paced, uneven, dead pitch.

With Dravid and Ganguly returning after the interval India will be hoping for a big partnership but neither looked in good touch before the break. Johnson, Lee and Clark will be fresher and with a renewed focus after a tasty lunch you would expect Australia to increase the pressure in search of another breakthrough.

Considering India took 90 overs and three sessions to take Australia’s first four wickets, I think we can safely assume that Australia has taken this match by the scruff of the neck and they won’t be relinquishing control until the last ball on day five or more likely, the 20th Indian wicket.

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Responses

  1. I saw the second half of the session and I must concur with your view that in isolation, the Indians appear to have got themselves out, but the wider context is one of planning and deliberate execution.

    Shane Watson appears to be playing the batsmen in. He and White look like they would struggle to get a bowl for an English county XI. In fact, this http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/10/10016/f_Bowling_by_Team.html and this http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/11/11866/f_Bowling_by_Team.html suggests exactly that.

    Over a four Test series, either Michael Clarke will have to bowl a bit (although his fielding is so good it almost takes wickets) or the quality of the Aus back-up bowling will have to improve. Of course, Indian morale may just collapse and anyone pick up wickets.

  2. Watson is doing well in my opinion. His job as the fourth seamer is to keep one end tight and after ten overs he is doing just that. 10-2-24-0

    He’s only played three Tests and this is all part of his education.

    White will get a few overs before each break and maybe a couple at Zaheer and Ishant to help with his confidence.

    All is well and a significant first innings lead is highly likely.

  3. Watson has just taken a wicket – a lucky one it seems at first sight, but credit to him for bowling straight and getting it to reverse a bit.

  4. And as for blocking one end, I think that’s an perfectly acceptable role in a five man attack, but you might need to do more in a four man attack. Does White count as a bowler?

  5. I was just going to mention the wicket.

    You’d think an Englishman that lived through the ’90s would know better than to doubt a bloke in a BaggyGreen.

    A vital breakthrough. I wonder if Dhoni can apply himself?

    Apparently, Sourav doesn’t have a high opinion of him.

  6. No I don’t count White as a frontline bowler but it should be remembered that Australia rarely play five.

    And if it ain’t broke etc etc..

    I’d say that Watson is more a Paul Reiffel type and on his day he’ll snag a few but mostly his job is to keep it tight while the strike bowlers rotate at the other end.

    Warne’s job in India was also to keep one end tight except he wasn’t able to whack bats in the helmet like Watson just did to Ganguly!

  7. I remember the 80s too Nesta!

    Reiffel I liked – economical in all he did and a thinking cricketer, more Gus Fraser than Shane Watson.

    But fair play to Watson, he did the job perfectly.

    Clarke on now – smart move. He does look a bowler to me.

  8. I think Clarke is on to improve the over rate but still his first over was encouraging.

    He’ll bowl four and five and then Johnson will get a chance to see if he can swing it.

    The next wixket could cause a quick collapse with Kumble and the tail to come.

    If they manage to keep them below 230 I guarantee there will be no thought of a follow-on.

  9. The follow-on is really only an option if sides are bowled out in 40 overs or fewer these days.

    The Aus attack (and one must include the fielders) have really stepped up. I’m not surprised, but knocking over five top order bats for less than a 100 today is a tremendous effort for their captain.

  10. Michael Clarke must be targeting ten wickets in this series.

  11. Alot of the success is due to desire and historical and cultural self-belief. Also, serious preparation and leaving no stone unturned to get any advantage possible.

    Dhoni’s dismissal was embarrassing for a Test batsman. It was reminiscent of Glenn McGrath!! although it was nicely set-up by the previous three deliveries.

  12. Have they got a radar gun on Shane Watson? He used to be able to push 140km/h, but the last I saw of him he was down to 130.

    The spinners (including White) will bowl a reaosnable number of overs for Australia because the pacemen can’t lift their over-rate above 12 or so.

    Nesta, you’re either underselling Reiffel or seriously rate Watson. Reiffel was good. His average flatters him because a relatively large proportion of his wickets were of weak batsmen, but adjusting for this he’s still in the league of Merv Hughes, Alderman, Lawson. I would love Watson to be as good as Reiffel.

  13. I am underselling Reiffel but what I was trying to convey in the comparison was the job expected of them by their respective captains.

    With a solid season of Test cricket under his belt Watson will do the fourth seamer’s job pretty well I think.

    He pulled back on his pace a bit for greater accuracy today where he bowled stump to stump throughout. However, when he bent his back, like the time he sconed Ganguly, he looked swift enough.

    Also, in a very encouraging sign, the longer Cam White bowled the better he performed.

    More on that in the day’s wrap after I get a bite to eat.

  14. It must be seriously disappointing for India that not one of their top order could guts it out and wait for the bowlers to tire and the pitch to become more consistently low. Batting doesn’t look too difficult now as long as the players are patient.

  15. It’s a fantastic fightback by Harbhajan and Zaheer. How journalists can continually write about the death of Test cricket is beyond me.

    Today has seen sustained periods of joy and despair for both team’s supporters, what a match!

  16. Lee has bowled 14 overs today and Clark 12. Either they are being held back for the second innings (which would be strange) or they aren’t up to bowling all day. I’m amazed that they aren’t bowling now at Harbhajan and Zaheer.

  17. They were bowling at them about half an hour ago and they were caned.

    After the rain delay the gremlins in the pitch disappeared and India, in the form of Singh and Khan, have taken full toll.

    Courageous batting and they deserve their success.

  18. Watson has just got his man, but if a wide long hop is the route to dismissing Number 8, that doesn’t bode well.

    I didn’t see Clark and Lee getting a bit of willow, but you have to think that players of their experience should have enough in their locker to control 8 and 9, no matter how positively they batted.

    I like the look of Haddin – that’s a very hard pitch to keep on, it’s late in the day but he looks so pleased to be there. Good on him.

  19. The radio commentators were saying that Clark was underarming balls in from the field, suggesting there’s something wrong with him.

    That 8th wicket partnership was frustrating. Australia’s going to have to bat aggressively if they want to declare and win this Test.

  20. I think batting aggressively was always the intention with an 80 to 100 run first innings lead. However, they still need to clean up the last two and the way this session has panned out nothing can be taken for granted.

    Stumps. My full thoughts in around an hour.

  21. I’d rather he hadn’t given up 24 byes, Toots, regardless of how happy he looks. Though I’m sure it’s difficult keeping there.

  22. Dave – the umps weren’t calling wides, which is very unfair on the keeper and some of the balls kicked out of bowlers’ run up marks as they squatted towards him at pace. I felt he did well from the overs I saw which were about half todays. To be honest, avoiding a broken finger was as good as could be expected – it was as difficult a pitch to keep on as Bridgetown has become.

  23. Haddin cannot be judged too harshly. Some erratic bowling by Lee and White were mostly to blame.

    Haddin probably saved 50 runs with some stellar saves but they don’t register in the scorebook.

    I enjoyed his keeping and it is obvious, even to a casual spectator like my wife, that he is a superior gloveman than Gilly.

    However, I doubt Brad will ever hit a ton in a session regularly.


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