The final over of the day.
Ball One – Shane Watson and Simon Katich have become one of the most reliable and effective opening partnerships in Test cricket. Jake Howe (@Howe_zat) informed Testmatchsofa.com that they average 58.8 for the first wicket in contrast to the other top order wickets’ average of 45.2. Australian batting has fallen some way from its astonishing peak about ten years ago, but it would have fallen further still without the unlikely success of two middle order batsmen as openers.
Ball Two – India completed an astonishing victory just four days ago, retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy amid scenes of complete jubilation. Inexplicably, in the first session, India almost repeated their opening two hours in Chandigarh – little energy, untidy fielding and regular concessions of both boundaries and singles. Against Australia more than any other team, intensity in the field needs to be at 100% from ball one. Why experienced cricketers cannot summon such intensity is not easy to excuse.
Ball Three – After attracting some deserved criticism for less than impressive umpiring in the First Test, you would expect Ian Gould to seek a low profile playing himself into this Test. Why then, did he fail to raise the finger when Watson edged Ojha to MS Dhoni, choosing to nod repeatedly? The digit, even the crooked digit, is the way to send off the batsman and has been since time immemorial – Ian Gould should take note.
Ball Four – Somehow, without the bowling being particularly bad, Australia’s batsmen are taking singles and scoring boundaries almost at will. Some credit goes to Watson, Ponting and Clarke, but MS Dhoni is at fault for setting fields that do neither one thing nor another. The effect of the fields is exacerbated by India’s players being on their heels rather than their toes. Get in close enough to save one and deep enough to save four – can’t be that difficult.
Ball Five – Mike Hussey is struggling with his technique – he knows how to bat but seems incapable of arranging his arms and legs into the necessary configuration to meet ball with bat in the advised manner. Once the ball is outside his eyeline, it is only a matter of time before the ball goes to slip or gully. Aus selectors are famously loyal to their players, but can they afford a man in such turmoil at Number Five in The Ashes? Perhaps as long as England continue to pick Colly, a man going through similar travails at the same time in his career, they can afford it.
Ball Six – Change bowling is much underused as a way of breaking a batsman’s concentration and getting a wicket when little else is working. Suresh Raina was a surprise pick to turn his arm over, but he did his job snaring a set Ricky Ponting with a lot of help from Billy Bowden. At that point, MS Dhoni should have taken off Raina in favour of a frontliner – instead, Raina continued and bowled Tim Paine through an awkward half hour late in the day. Knowing when to attack is crucial in captaincy and MS Dhoni failed to seize his opportunity.
You can find the Tooting Trumpet at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.