Posted by: nestaquin | October 20, 2008

Border Gavaskar Trophy Second Test Day Three Stumps

The third day of the Mohali Test match started much like the two that preceded it; the sun was shining bright, hundreds of bearded police handed out sponsor’s signs to the assembled schoolchildren and India taught Australia a cricketing lesson as soon as play began.

Beginning the day 102/4 still 365 runs in arrears, Australia could ill afford to lose one wicket in the session but due to some excellent bowling Hussey, Haddin and White were back in the pavilion at lunch leaving Shane Watson and Brett Lee to try and salvage the match after lunch.

To the amazement of many they both dug in and played well putting on 73, Australia’s only half century partnership of the innings, before Lee was caught low at slip by Dravid off Harbhajan ten minutes before tea.

Watson played perhaps the innings of his career and although he has scored more runs in a single T20 match, his 78 in over two sessions saved Australia from total embarrassment and gave his team a sliver of hope in what has been a most depressing Test match for the men in BaggyGreen.

The blonde Queenslander with the Schwarzenneger physique batted with extreme patience and his footwork and reading of the flight against the spin of Mishra and Harbhajan illustrated clearly that he has the ability and temperament to build an innings on the sub-continent.

He used the crease well, playing with soft hands behind point and striking the ball purposefully on the front foot when driving. Any bad balls were put away and his running between the wickets was savvy and quick.

His textbook technique is well suited to Indian conditions and Ponting should consider batting him at five in the second innings instead of the flighty Michael Clarke. It’s obvious that when Australia begin their marathon challenge to save the match tomorrow afternoon, time at the crease will be far more important than runs on the scoreboard.

The reason that India are in such a powerful position at the end of day three was there for all to see when Delhi pair Sehwag and Gambhir did as they pleased in the 23 overs before stumps. Whereas the Indian bowling attack has variation and combination, Australia has none.

Zaheer swings the ball both ways at a clip, Ishant has seam, pace and bounce, Harbhajan flight, turn and guile and the star of the day, debutante Amit Mishra is an accomplished leg-spinner with a full armoury of deliveries at his disposal.

Against Australia’s diminished attack of three specialist quicks, who seem unable to move the ball significantly or consistently off the strip or through the air, the Indian openers had a field day adding an even 100 before stumps to have the home team 301 runs ahead with all ten wickets in hand.

It’s been along time since an Australian XI has been given such a consistent shellacking but the beauty of Test match cricket is that it’s never over to the tenth second innings wicket falls. India still have plenty of work to do in this Test and the form suggests they’ll do the job easily, however, if they relax and allow their opponents to play well, Australia still have a slim hope of escaping with a draw.

Tomorrow: A tactical preview of expectations on Day Four.

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Responses

  1. An excellent point about how much more work India have to do in this Test, but the mental challenge of batting 130 overs or so for a draw will test the strongest minds.

    Best odds

    India 4/7
    Draw 15/8
    Aus 33/1

    As short as India are, they look the best value there.

  2. I think Ponting’s field placings were slightly inexplicable. He should have put a bit more pressure as even a single wicket could have sowed seeds of doubts in the Indian camp. As it is, Sehwag and Gambhir scored at a rate of more than 4 an over even with a defensive field.

    Fielders patrolling deep boundaries may work with Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman due to their inability to rotate strike with quick singles. But the Delhi-duo have a good understanding between themselves.

    Even then, all is not lost for Australia. The pitch still seems to be a batting beauty and it may become easier to play spinners off the back-foot as it further slows down.

  3. Toots I’m wondering about your little opinions on the daily odds (and more generally when people do this in newspapers or whatever). Do you (or could you) make money by beating the bookies? If not, how do you feel about giving your regular opinions on the odds? It just seems to me like there’s an implicit recommendation of how to bet, and if you don’t think you can win, then you’re encouraging people to lose.

  4. Saurabh,

    There is wisdom in your comment but in Ponting’s defense, the bowling was so poor and the confidence in the team so low that the seeds of doubt have well and truly taken root throughout the visiting team.
    So much so that they have lost their greatest strength, self-belief.

    Seldom do Australia get outplayed in every aspect of the game and at the moment they are hanging on by their fingernails and it wouldn’t surprise if at some stage today Australia have 6 or 7 fielders on the fence.

  5. Dave – I used to write a more regular overview of the odds available at The Googly when that was a going concern, covering fixed odds and spreads. I had some successes, but not many.

    I feel it adds something to the unfolding of a Test (or a series) to see how the odds shift – since they have an element of the “wisdom of crowds” built into them.

    Of course, it’s each individual’s decision whether to gamble on cricket or anythting else – but as events of the last few months have shown, money is gambled (invested) all the time to gain or loss. It’s not unreasonable to expect those that follow cricket with the interest shown here, occasionally to have information (or a gut feeling) that puts them ahead of the bookies – whether one then acts is up to the individual.

    Personally, I hardly ever gamble on cricket (or anything else), but that’s not a philosophical nor financial decision, it’s that it’s too fiddly to set up an account.


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