The “final over” of the day.
Ball One – Australians set great store by body language and India’s was very poor in the morning session, giving the Australians a lift they seldom need. The Trumpet feels that body language is overrated as a part of the game, but when it coincides with dropped catches, easy singles and no balls, the environment becomes one that is too comfortable for the batting side. Australia, under a bit of pressure to deliver, could hardly have asked for a more gentle introduction to the series – not really good enough from MS Dhoni’s men.
Ball Two – Ricky Ponting is nearing the end of his career, but his appetite for the short single is as sharp as ever it was. Being a superb athlete, even now, helps, as does his ability to push the ball into gaps. But does it open up a chance for England given the captain’s (and his team’s) extreme reluctance to allow maidens. For years, the odd run out or the odd rash stroke to break up the dot balls hardly mattered, as there was Gilly and co to send the score skywards, but there’s a brittleness in this iteration of the Australian batting. If England can bowl maidens – wickets will come.
Ball Three – With a century there for the taking, Ricky Ponting gave away his wicket in an extraordinary lapse of concentration, failing to run hard as Suresh Raina, comfortably the best fielder in the Indian side, swooped and threw down the stumps. 14 run outs in his Test career now for Punter – is the aggressive running beginning to show diminishing returns?
Ball Four – The Trumpet likes Shane Watson’s batting but he can be a bit one-paced. Becalmed after the dismissal of his captain, Michael Clarke, new to the crease, felt the need to make the pace in the partnership. He was out cutting a ball that that really demanded defence. Good on India for building pressure, but if half-volleys are patted back to the bowler, dot balls come easily.
Ball Five – Mike Hussey presented an old-fashioned image of a cricketer as he cast off his helmet and donned the baggy green to bat against the spin of Ohja and Harbhajan. So far so good – but then when he called for his helmet, he was dismissed to the third ball he faced. Did the move back to the helmet unsettle him in any way? It was a good ball from Zaheer, so credit that, but it’ll be interesting to see if Hussey calls for a cap again in this series.
Ball Six – At lunch, Sehwag’s drop of Watson off the second ball of the day didn’t look important as Aus looked set for 600. At the close, with Watson having scored 101 of Australia’s 224-5 with power to add tomorrow, India will look back on an opportunity to missed – a good day could have been a very good day for MS Dhoni’s men.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.