The “final over” of the day.
Ball One – The nightwatchman’s job is to get through to the close. The next morning, he should really play as many shots as possible, partly to get handy runs, but also to seize the initiative early in the day – 35 off 30 balls is about the ideal knock come the morning. What a nightwatchman shouldn’t do is get out leaving the ball – Ishant Sharma, continuing his very poor match, managed to do so.
Ball Two – Rahul Dravid is a great of the game, approaching Brian Lara’s Test aggregate and third place on the all-time list. The man top of that list and top of every list in India, is batting at the other end, as has been the case for almost all of his career. That Dravid has been so comfortable in that role for so long demands a man of rare humility. Rahul Dravid – a fine player and an even finer human being.
Ball Three – Ben Hilfenhaus is a wholehearted cricketer, but how is he Australian and not English? His style of bowling – pacey, but not genuinely quick; stump to stump; fullish in length looking for swing, but not late swing; and patiently exploring the batsmen’s weaknesses – is almost the template for the English seamer. With his average just the wrong side of 30, his numbers are English too, though he has time to improve his stats. I hope he does – he is an admirable fellow.
Ball Four – With India’s score approaching 200, Punter is yet to turn to Watson or North or even Katich or Clarke. None of those four are genuine part-timers, indeed Watson is almost a front-liner now he has stopped trying to bowl like Brett Lee and settled for bowling like a craftier Dwayne Bravo. Punter is in danger of exhausting his main attacking options with the match not halfway through and another Test coming up next week. Hitters down the order like MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh can hurt tiring bowlers and create the time India need to put pressure on the brittle Australian middle order.
Ball Five – Rahul Dravid’s concentration is legendary, but it failed him with his score on 77. It was a decent ball from Dougie, but Dravid’s bat followed the ball in a way that’ll disappoint such a perfectionist. On flat wickets, the leave is an attacking stroke because it makes the bowler deliver the ball into the batsman’s hitting areas – four an over is then possible. Dravid’s leave has served him well over a long career, but it let him down today.
Ball Six – This is Suresh Raina’s third Test. He’s going to get a lot of bouncers if he plays fifty Tests. Though there are more bouncers in limited overs cricket these days, the authentic bouncer attack is only possible in Tests and the ability to deal with it is right up there in the Test batsman person specification. Turning your head and taking it on the body is not good enough.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.