Posted by: nestaquin | October 19, 2008

Border Gavaskar Trophy Second Test Day Three Preview

With interest in the Border Gavaskar Trophy global, 99.94 today presents the thoughts and prose of London’s own, The Tooting Trumpet, a rare Englishman indeed, a kind that can remain neutral in the analysis of an Australian XI. While I suspect there is a wisp of schadenfreude contained within his ample frame, there is not a hint of it in his gastronomical preview of what is likely to be another enthralling day in the Punjab.

At the start of yesterday’s play, Brett Lee was obliged to pause at the top of his run-up as a Indian aircraft flew low over the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali – plane stops play, if you will. It was a portent of the day to come, as Australia were stopped by a flying Indian XI galvanised in the field by captain MS Dhoni. Both he and Ricky Ponting had much to contemplate over the evening dahl and naan bread.

Ricky Ponting faces the more tricky task. On the one hand, he still has significant batting resources at his disposal. The incomparable Mike Hussey is still at the crease and will be looking to bat through each half-hour as he looks towards a day long occupation – he is not the sort of man to let the reprieve, offered by MS Dhoni off a very difficult chance from the bowling of local boy Harbhajan Singh, go unpunished.

Mr Cricket will aim to allow the inexperienced but talented late middle order of Watson, Haddin and White, to bat around him, with Shane Watson possibly under pressure for his place after a half-hearted display with the ball. With the pitch already offering bounce and turn to the Indian spinners, few runs can be expected from the tail.

MS Dhoni’s thoughts will be straying towards a famous victory, but the route to achieve that goal is by no means straightforward. He will start the morning with Zaheer and Ishant, demanding that they repeat their disciplined display of hostile reverse swing to a tight line and fuller length than the Australians bowled. But he will be aware that Hayden and Ponting are unlikely to surrender their wickets so meekly in the second dig and will want to keep his pacemen fresh for the hard work to come.

Unlike Punter, Dhoni has two other aces to play in the debutant Amit Mishra and the veteran of 70 Tests, Harbhajan Singh. Mishra will be lucky to sleep at all after a superb display of controlled and thoughtful leg-spin and wrong ‘uns, culminating in his complete out-foxing of Michael Clarke from the last ball of yesterday’s play.

Mishra’s job will be to maintain his attacking line whilst not allowing the Aussies to unsettle him, for they will not let him have so comfortable a day again. After a quiet two and a half innings bowling, Harbhajan owes his captain a penetrative spell or two and may be wondering about his place in the team.

Although it’s never wise to predict Test match cricket, the last question on Dhoni’s mind as he sups on a lhassi, concerns a potential declaration. At some point today, he is likely to turn his mind to the approach he wants his batsmen to take – go too aggressively too early and there’s a chance that his team will be bowled out and bring the possibility of an Australian win back into the frame; ask his batsmen to play their natural games and there’s a chance that Punter’s fleet-footed fielders deployed in defensive positions will allow the Aussie captain to stall the game and allow an outplayed team escape with a draw.

With 90 overs play scheduled for Sunday, we will know more about the captains by the close of play and more about the players too, but we won’t know the outcome of the match – Test cricket doesn’t give up its byzantine plotting so easily. Reserve your seat for another absorbing day.

Later: A summary of the plots, twists and turns of Day Three.

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Responses

  1. Australia must bat the entire day to have even the slimmest hope of saving this Test.

    We all know Hussey can do it although after two days on the park and with so little time between Tests even that may be too much to hope for.

    Perversely, if Hussey falls in the first session Australia may well be at the crease at stumps.

    They might have to follow on!

  2. Nesta: I don’t want to get too ahead of things because Hussey, White, Haddin, Watson can still do a lot of damage. Still, I think Dhoni *shouldn’t* enforce the follow-on if it comes to that. For one thing, I don’t think they’ll bowl Australia out quickly. Secondly. the pressure they’ll be able to exert in a fourth-innings chase, I think, will be greater.

  3. If I was Indian captain I wouldn’t force the follow-on either Samir.

    Get 500 ahead as quickly as possible. That would be the best bet.

  4. Shane watson looks much more comfortable with bat in hand rather than ball. That’s good news for him in the context of the match, if not in the context of his career.

  5. Tremendous bowling from Ishant to dismiss Mike Hussey. To swallow the disappointment of inducing an edge from Hussey and it not carrying to a dozing Dravid and then pitch a perfect away seamer next ball shows the measure of the man. Hussey, showing a bit of class, was on his heels and walking. His wicket in the second knock might be the game-breaker.

  6. Just noticed a curious thing about Ishant’s bowling. In his run up, he carries the ball in his left hand, only transferring it to his right hand as he hits his delivery stride. How he gets the seam right, I don’t know!

  7. Toots, I used to do that (transfer the ball from left to right hand just before the delivery stride). It’s not hard to get the seam right – you hold the ball in your left hand the same way each ball, so it becomes routine.

  8. I’ve seen the two W’s do that as well. It looks difficult, but I suppose a regular practitioner could do it.

  9. Watched the first four overs then went across the road for a dip so I never saw Hussey depart.

    His dismissal makes it all the more difficult to save the match.

    Big opportunity for Watson to do something of substance under pressure.

  10. Cheers gentlemen re Ishant – I couldn’t do it!

    Dazzling debut from Mishra – perfect googly to despatch White, who, for all his enthusiasm, looks outclassed at this level.

  11. There”s no way back into this team for Kumble is there?

  12. Thankfully for Australia’s sake Kumble will be back next game!

  13. That was some googly. I don’t know about you guys but watching a good leggie bowl in tests is something else. Even more reason to miss Warnie but at least theres some good youngsters out there.

  14. In my opinion, quality legspin is the greatest entertainment in the entire spectrum of human endeavour.

    Traditionally, Australia have had very lean times without one.

    It’s a shame McGain isn’t fit for he is a fine leggie too.

  15. Tooting,

    Kumble owns the Kotla so he will be back.. What will be interesting is whether India go in with a 3 pronged spin attack at Kotla and Nagpur or whether they stick to the same bowling combinations.

    But there is some more time before we cross that bridge and something for the selector’s to ponder about ( and earn their salaries :) )

    Cheers,

  16. Homer: You’re up as well? I don’t know how long I can stay awake, but I’m trying. Its at times like this that I wish we didn’t have the lunch break in test cricket!

    Nesta: Nice bit of hyperbole there – the sentiment is appreciated!

  17. Samir,

    I am on a 5 PM -11 PM sleep cycle these days :). This is India v Australia, this is Test Cricket – would not miss it for the world!

    Cheers :)

  18. I bet it’s Tests like this one that make it all worthwhile Homer.

    I’m looking forward to Sehwag batting in the afternoon session. With no pressure, a license to attack and Australia all but buried it promises to be something special.

  19. I think thats the legacy of the Border Gavaskar Trophy Nestaquin.

    Barring 1999 ( which was a blow out), every session of every series has been riveting cricket.

    Cheers,

  20. Great session for India. It is a treat indeed to watch a quality leg-spinner. Where Mishra scores over Chawla is that his stock ball turns appreciably whereas the latter relies more on his googly. He is fortunate too to make his debut in Mohali (one of the relatively more open) ground, thus getting a nice drift.

    I had to attend a dinner this evening and could not sleep this evening. I do not think I can stay awake beyond tea today. This is the first test series I am watching away from India and now I think day-night test matches in India may not be that outrageous an idea.

  21. Does nobody think that Kumble won’t do a Nasser Hussain? In 2004, Nasser watched Andrew Strauss get a ton and an eighty on debut and, despite having 96 Tests, Nasser packed it in knowing that his place had gone. It took some ticker and a lot of self-knowledge, but he was right.

  22. So we’re all in different time zones? I’ve been up at 5.00am Saturday and Sunday and wouldn’t have missed this for the world.

  23. Homer: Yup, these series are the worst for my sleep patterns!

    Nesta: I’ve been following India for too long to start thinking about what comes next!

    Day-night tests in India would certainly do wonders for my sleep!

  24. He will play in Kotla. That’s his favourite hunting ground. He got back into Indian team with a 14-138 in Irani Trophy at Kotla in 1991 and has always run through sides there (including the 10-74).

  25. I don’t think Kumble will fall on his sword after this match.

    Maybe after the series. Maybe after England tour. Maybe after Pakistan tour. Probably be gone when New Zealand tour.

    In Australia the match begins at 3pm and ends around 9:30pm which is virtually a Day/Night affair. Very convenient too.

  26. Will IPL considerations play a part in a Kumble decision? It’s not as though his income will disappear, nor his place in the public eye. I guess we’ll find out soon.

  27. New ball soon. Does Dhoni take it immediately?

    I would.

    Toots, I reckon the IPL is not really a factor. Kumble wants to finish when he is ready and I think he’ll dig his heels in now that his bowling and captaincy have been exposed.

    I assume if he doesn’t do well in the next Test the shouts for his resignation will be deafening especially after Mishra and Dhoni’s efforts in the current match.

  28. Funnily enough, I’d take the new ball straight away in order to get it aged and reversing as soon as possible. Brett Lee is gutsing it out well.

  29. Toots,

    Your starting to think like an Indian! I wonder if KP is as dedicated as you and is up at dawn observing his next real opponent?

  30. KP at 5.00am? I think he’s still out.

    Vaughan will be up though – working on his newspaper column.

  31. Rudi eh?

  32. It’s hard to get a decision out of old Rudi. Always has been. He used to annoy Warne so much that he used to sledge him instead of the batsmen.

  33. Oh, god, that was so plumb

  34. I wonder what Ricky Ponting must be feeling now, given the 50 run partnership for the 8th wicket – elation at his batsmen for showing some fight, disappointment over a squandered opportunity by his mainline batters or unease at the ease with which Lee and Watson are playing?

  35. All three Homer and probably a bit of hope where there was probably none at lunch.

  36. This is really fine play from Watson and Lee. I couldn’t see Lee keeping out the spinners, but he did and is reaping the reward.

    It makes such a difference having batting at 8 / 9.

  37. Australia has finally had a little win in the match. Dhoni has no slip for Watson and I find it curious considering the lead is over 200.

    If these two can make it to tea it will be a huge boost for the morale of the team. Still a long way to go to save it but at lunch the match looked India’s for sure.

  38. Amazingly, Australia has made it to tea and survived the second new ball. Lee should be proud of his efforts but he won’t be, he’ll be bitterly disappointed to not bat a session.

    Australia have now batted over three sessions which didn’t look likely this morning.

    When Australia are eventually dismissed Dhoni will have to decide on how much time and how many runs he needs to push for a win.

    Very interesting Test match even though it has been mostly one-sided.

  39. “Very interesting Test match even though it has been mostly one-sided.”

    I think that’s the joy of a decent wicket – bowlers have had to show real skill and captains real imagination to get batsmen out. That makes it hard to win Test matches, which is how it should be – merely having an advantage isn’t enough; the last yard is the hardest.

    Of course, it’s heartbreaking to get poor decisions on a good strip, but that happens.

  40. To be fair to Rudi, he was too lazy to call for the third umpire when Ganguly was about 40 odd and although tight it was out.

    I think the not out decision was because it was Ishant’s first ball but as I write Rudi has given Watson out.

    India will be batting soon and Australia will be trying to rough them up up a bit before stumps.

  41. Nesta – I agree re Rudi. He’s hopeless for both sides!

    Mitchell Johnson has just hit a sublime six. I do think he has real potential as a bat.

  42. Not too clever from Siddle – but he’s inexperienced and his job is coming up now.

  43. Tail end batting is one of the joys of Test match cricket especially when they get a few.

    India’s turn now. Should be fun with Sehwag unleashed.

  44. Last time Australia were behind 200 or more in the first innings was at Trent Bridge in 2005 and they weren’t far off winning that one.

    I’m sure it’s still bright in your memory Toots!

  45. “Not far off winning” as in “actually losing”? But had Punter opened with Warne, it might have been different!

  46. I see you do remember it!

  47. Toots, where are the bookies predictions? You’ve ended all 7 days of the series with them.

    Is it so one-sided that they’ve stopped taking bets?


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