Australia v India, 1st Test, MCG, 2nd day

Dravid, Tendulkar lead strong reply

The Report by Daniel Brettig at the MCG

December 27, 2011

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India 3 for 214 (Tendulkar 73, Dravid 68*, Sehwag 67) trail Australia 333 (Cowan 68, Ponting 62, Zaheer 4-77) by 119 runs
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Sachin Tendulkar drives on his way to a half-century, Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 2nd day, December 27, 2011
Sachin Tendulkar looked good for that elusive 100th international ton, till he was bowled by Peter Siddle in the final over of the day © Getty Images
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Sachin Tendulkar was foiled yet again in his pursuit of a 100th international century, as Peter Siddle atoned in the final over for an earlier no-ball that reprieved Rahul Dravid, on another absorbing day of the first Test between Australia and India at the MCG.

Driven largely by Tendulkar's stand of 117 with Dravid, India reached a threatening 3 for 214 in reply to Australia's 333, but cursed the loss of Tendulkar for 73 on the stroke of stumps. Only a handful of overs had passed since Dravid had been bowled by Siddle and handed another start after Marais Erasmus' check revealed a front-foot transgression.

Australia's fielders gnashed their teeth over the incident and had struggled in the field, as catches went down and the captain Michael Clarke's resources were stretched by the absence of a fifth bowler. But Tendulkar's exit gave them cause for some hope for the third morning.

Tendulkar's serene innings in Dravid's company had wrestled the day India's way, following a second session speckled with incident. That period of play was capped when James Pattinson splayed the stumps of Virender Sehwag, whose streaky but entertaining 67 took him past 8000 Test runs. Sehwag gave two clear chances and another near enough to it, making merry until Pattinson was rewarded for a sustained and hostile spell in the lead-up to the tea interval. The bowler had earlier crossed swords with Sehwag in an ill-tempered confrontation over the matter of right of way while running between the wickets.

Pattinson stood clearly above the rest as the most demanding member of Australia's attack, showing a fiery countenance as well as speed and movement, but the limitations of the rest were exposed on a pitch now friendly to batsmen. Siddle was punished early before his late rally, and Ben Hilfenhaus used the new ball with intelligence, disposing of Gautam Gambhir, but later faded.

He, Hilfenhaus and Pattinson had all hung around in the morning to build the hosts' total. Zaheer Khan claimed Brad Haddin and Siddle to return deserved figures of 4 for 77, while R Ashwin accounted for Hilfenhaus and the last man Nathan Lyon. Umesh Yadav did not add to his three wickets on the first day, while Ishant Sharma will bowl far worse for better returns than his 0 for 48 in 24 exacting overs.

Siddle and Haddin resumed against a refreshed India on a brilliantly warm and sunny day, and were not long in facing difficulty. Zaheer gained swing one way and seam the other in the day's second over with the still-new ball, and Haddin was bereft. He edged one delivery to the third man fence, either side of failing to cover, then snicked another low to gully where Virender Sehwag held it.

Haddin asked Sehwag if the catch had carried, and there was a further delay as the umpires checked for a possible no-ball, but eventually Australia's wicketkeeper was marching off, before many at the MCG had even settled into their seats. Siddle and Pattinson resisted momentarily, before Zaheer found another precise delivery to catch Siddle's edge as he pushed from the crease.

Hilfenhaus announced himself with a slap to the cover fence. He added a hairy edge over the slip cordon and an improbably commanding lofted drive down the ground, both off Zaheer, to push the total past 300. The impressively upright and correct Pattinson followed up by punching Ishant Sharma splendidly down the ground, helping his confidence but also indicating that the surface was becoming rather more pleasant for batting than at any stage of day one.

Smart stats

  • Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar have put together 20 century stands in Tests, which is the most, four more than the next best.
  • Dravid has been involved in 88 century stands in Tests, and Tendulkar in 84. Those are the two highest in Tests; Ricky Ponting is next with 82.
  • Virender Sehwag became the 23rd batsman, and the fifth Indian, to go past 8000 Test runs.
  • This was Sehwag's 53rd fifty-plus score, of which only eight have come at a strike rate of less than 70.
  • Tendulkar has gone 18 innings without a century in international cricket, but he has seven fifties during this period.
  • Australia's total of 333 is only the eighth time a team has posted a triple Nelson score in the first innings of a Test. The last time a team won a Test with this total was way back in 1906.

The duo reached drinks together, adding a pesky 27 in all before the introduction of Ashwin brought a Hilfenhaus heave to long on. Pattinson connected with a handful of further decent blows before Lyon was bowled around his pads. Sehwag and Gambhir negotiated a brief spell before lunch. Ed Cowan, Australia's debutant and top scorer on day one, was unable to field for a time due to back soreness, his place taken by Daniel Christian.

When the players returned, Sehwag and Gambhir struggled initially against the seam and swing of Hilfenhaus and Pattinson. A Sehwag edge off Pattinson burst through the hands of Michael Hussey in the gully - a chance that should have been held. Tempers were raised when Pattinson and Sehwag passed closely beside one another as the batsman took a run, resulting in a heated exchange that also drew in Siddle and had Sehwag pointing the senior bowler back to his fielding post.

The confrontation deflected momentary attention from Gambhir, whose best touch has been missing for most of 2011. Here he scratched around for three runs in 23 balls, the last of which was a shortish, seaming delivery from Hilfenhaus that Gambhir edged forlornly behind with an open face. Dravid arrived with the ball still new and Sehwag not yet into stride.

Quietly, the pair established themselves, offering due deference to some wholehearted bowling and accumulating runs in ones and twos before any great flurry of boundaries could be sought. The 15th over was reached before Sehwag opened up, twice stroking Siddle to the offside boundary, then repeating the trick by crashing Lyon to the sightscreen off successive balls to pass 50 from a sedate - by his standards - 59 balls. The next delivery brought a miscue and a quarter-chance to long on, where David Warner may or may not have reached the ball before it touched the turf.

Pattinson drew another chance from Sehwag's flailing bat when an edge behind was turfed unattractively by Brad Haddin, and it appeared India would reach the interval without further loss. But Pattinson's fire and persistence were justly rewarded in the moments before tea, with another freewheeling driving resulting in an inside edge that tilted middle stump.

Tendulkar made it to the middle accompanied by his requisite ovation, and caused Australian hearts to leap when an inside edge to his second ball slipped centimetres from the grasp of short leg. Tea came and went with Pattinson's electricity still in the air, but on their return Tendulkar and Dravid set out with intent to control the innings.

The first ball of the evening was flashed high over the slips and the rope for six by Tendulkar, not permitting Siddle a moment to gather himself. The next flowed through midwicket for three, and Tendulkar's course was set. He maintained a rollicking pace for most of the next two hours, taking particular toll on Siddle, and defusing Lyon.

At the other end Dravid fought himself as much as the bowlers, not locating the fluency of his England efforts, but nonetheless providing the foil Tendulkar required to blunt Australia's bowlers. Michael Clarke shuffled his quartet as best he could, but the pacemen's spells became briefer and briefer, forcing the use of Hussey and even David Warner's under-ripe legspin.

The century partnership was the 20th between Tendulkar and Dravid in Tests, a milestone befitting Test cricket's most prolific batting partnership. It appeared to have ended shortly after when Siddle brought one back between the latter's bat and pad. The roar of a crowd of 52,858 was redoubled, however, when replays showed that Siddle had overstepped.

Siddle's next delivery went close to perforating Dravid's defence again, and the bowler's pace did not flag as he pushed himself to make amends. For perhaps the first time in his innings Tendulkar became a little tentative, mindful of the close, and he was not decisive enough in his push down the track to prevent an in-ducker from bursting through to disturb the stumps. The nightwatchman Ishant Sharma survived the final three balls, but his presence has provided Australia a path into India's batting when the Test resumes.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (December 29, 2011, 7:14 GMT)

righthandbat - definitely agree about Wade, although I'd be happy to see Nevill in as a specialist batsmen as well. Haddin dropping catches and falling over with the bat as usual this test is just unacceptable. Those all-time greats is exactly my point though. It's going to be almost impossible to get back to no.1 ahead of England and South Africa in the next 2 years unless we are finding potential bowlers at least almost as good as those mentioned. The great sides always had great bowlers and we won't be winning back the ashes without them. Pattinson has been a great find. He bowls accurately and with that hint of movement required to find edges. Let's see if Hilfenhaus and Siddle can bowl consistently throughout the series or on dead pitches, but more importantly, can they bowl against England's batting order? They've already failed miserably... twice (home and away). I'm not confident that they can get Cook or Trott out consistently.

Posted by Meety on (December 29, 2011, 6:13 GMT)

@landl47 - keep dreaming buddy - Oz have the bowlers to win back the Ashes! Beware!

Posted by   on (December 28, 2011, 4:10 GMT)

ordinary attack lolzzzzzzz fastest ball bowled in match154 ishant sharma yadav clocked 150 aussies 4/27 lolzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ha ha ha

Posted by   on (December 28, 2011, 2:19 GMT)

India have been bowled out for 282 as i write this..Guys please give Laxman a break and even Dravid for "not batting throughout the day".They will get better as the series progresses.However dhoni is a worry.he wont get any better just because he cannot.As i have said before he is not test class outside the subcontinent.(both infront and behind the stumps)Its like if you get 5 Ind wickets you get them all out (carried forward from England).Aus will post a target of around 450 to India by tea on Day 4.And we will lose the match by 150 + or minus 20 runs on 5th day.It has to happen after our mediocre batting display today.All Hilfy did was pitched the ball a tad fuller and got the ball to move which is too much for our tail .Drop kohli and mould Rohit ASAP.Unfortunately we really should have carried on from 200/2 but this match is gone.btw Aswin seems to be a real find and hopefully he plays with the same fighting spirit throughout.deduct his 31 from indian total..shudder!!!

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (December 28, 2011, 1:55 GMT)

Well well well!! it's Dhoni now on firing line. He is playing awfully and i would say he is covering his mistakes as he is under too much pressure in test matches. He has good attacking technique but guess less of confidence to play balls and just over attacks it ....but he knows he can play well..we too know it, but all is not well with him so he should first check his technique playing in tests. Should sack him for 2 test matches in Aussie..nothing will happen..we can captain Dravid for two tests. Then Dhoni will realise how to play with technique and attacking both parallely used. Let him get shameful and he will learn and get out of his ego if he has anything after glory. Let him check himself.. sack him and support this comments friends, i am putting this thinking of nation interest ..Indian national cricket team interest. First comes team ahead of a player.

Posted by shuvoroy31 on (December 28, 2011, 1:55 GMT)

Yet another overseas test innings folding up under 300. Gambhir, despite his apparent following among the IPL-loving numpties, should be summarily dropped. His replacement? Even the next man on the street can't do any worse - so let the regionalism of the 5 wise men decide that. Leave Gambhir with all his cockiness and tantrums to the great Bollywood saga of IPL, unless he FINALLY sets his priorities right. Laxman too is at the end of his rope - he might still score an odd big score here and there, but that almost certainly would be a flash in the pan. He has been a great servant to Indian cricket - a fact eulogised enough times to put a permanent lid on the tiresome neglect-theory spewed forth by his fans at the first chance. Get Rohit in and pick Kohli strictly for domestic tests - his travails in seam-friendly conditions are too heart-wrenching to see. Pujara should be brought into the mix - he should pay greater dividends than Kohli in tests in the long run.

Posted by   on (December 28, 2011, 1:52 GMT)

That is a really BAD START. Dhoni needs to go back to RANJI games - after his last 2 years he has been very bad with BAT. VVS needs to score runs instead of DEFENSE TACTICS.

VIRU's RUSH OF BLOOD wont work always as once in Blue Moon he scores BIGm but not enough against an young and fresh blood - sad & dont know what was all the fuss about T10 dismissal.

over all the team once again could not surpass the target - AND REMAIN POOR TRAVELERS.

Posted by dms1972 on (December 28, 2011, 1:48 GMT)

Remind me again, how many runs were India going to score? 500+ you say? Like I said, get Dravid early and Laxman cheaply, and the rest just crumbled. All out for 282. A long, long way short of the premature predictions of 500.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (December 28, 2011, 1:46 GMT)

India just all out giving Oz a 51 run lead. the pendulum swings..... advantage Aussies. Could be a rout with the Indians being scalped! Come on Aussies.....

Posted by alkenned on (December 28, 2011, 1:37 GMT)

Congratulations to the Australian selectors on their decision to bring Hilfenhaus back, but they sure will have a problem when Cumming is fit. How can you drop any Siddle or Pattinson or Hilfenhaus? And Ryan Harris?

Comments have now been closed for this article

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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