Australia v India, 1st Test, MCG, 3rd day December 28, 2011

Hilfenhaus, Yadav shine on bowlers' day


Australia 333 & 8 for 179 (Hussey 79*, Ponting 60, Yadav 4-49) lead India 282 (Tendulkar 73, Dravid 68, Sehwag 67, Hilfenhaus 5-75) by 230 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Indifferent batting from India and an abject response by the Australian top order left the first Test tantalisingly poised after a helter skelter third day on which 15 wickets fell at the MCG.

The visitors and the hosts traded collapses on a track still offering a modicum of help to the bowlers, India slipping from 2 for 214 to 282 all out before Australia slumped to 4 for 27 thanks to Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma. It was a hole plugged only partially by the staunch efforts of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, who was undefeated on 79 when the close arrived at 8 for 179, the lead standing at 230.

Rahul Dravid, bowled second ball of the morning by the recalled and renewed Ben Hilfenhaus, completed his unhappy day by shelling the sort of slips catch he would expect to claim when Hussey advanced to R Ashwin on 69. Though Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon departed thereafter, it may yet prove a crucial drop.

Hussey and Ponting were both under enormous pressure for runs coming into this match, given their poor recent returns, but younger team-mates were grateful for their calming presence in a partnership of 115 after the tumult that marked the start of the second innings. Hussey's innings was particularly strong, counter-punching from the start to build some sort of lead.

India had earlier surrendered 8 for 68 to be halted 51 runs short of Australia's 333. Hilfenhaus followed up Dravid's defeat with the wickets of Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and the dogged nightwatchman Ishant Sharma, while Siddle neutralised the threat of VVS Laxman and rounded things off by disposing of Ashwin for a useful 31.

The continuing flood of wickets was attributable to smart, full bowling but also poor batting, with David Warner, Ed Cowan and Shaun Marsh all guilty of vast misjudgements. Michael Clarke was less culpable, out to a corking delivery from Ishant. Ponting's dismissal was followed by another flighty innings from keeper Brad Haddin, who must be under severe scrutiny for his spot despite claiming five catches.

Starting out with a 51-run advantage, Warner and Cowan were unable to get themselves going in the manner of the first innings. Warner looked uncomfortable, tugging at the ball rather than timing it, and it was no great surprise when he dragged Yadav onto the stumps with an angled bat. Cowan had left the ball with great skill on Boxing Day, but two balls after Warner he would die by the sheathed sword, padding up to a Yadav delivery that straightened and as such having scant cause to complain about the lbw verdict.

Marsh evaded a pair, scoring his first Test runs in Australia, only to perish in a similarly ugly manner to Warner when he snicked a full, wide delivery from Yadav onto the stumps. After an outside edge in the first innings, an inside edge in the second, it was clear Marsh lacked Test match touch after injury and one Twenty20 knock.

At three down India had the scent, and it became a pungent whiff with the fall of Clarke to a beautifully-pitched delivery from Ishant that seamed back and removed the leg bail via the inside edge. Clarke's exit was all too swift, and echoes of Cape Town hung tangibly in the air.

Hussey and Ponting responded to their predicament with firm intent and attractive strokes, pulling, cutting and driving to extend the lead and take Australia past the accursed 47. Ponting was fortunate to survive Zaheer's lbw appeal from around the wicket when he was 15, replays indicating the ball had struck him in line and would have plucked out middle. Hussey's first boundary was an edge through the slips, but thereafter he was decisive and impressive, attempting to make amends for an awfully slim run of scores since a bountiful tour of Sri Lanka in September.

Tea came and went, and the partnership assumed significant proportions against bowling that remained diligent but with the backdrop of slackening field settings. Dhoni was intent on saving runs, and Hussey and Ponting were able to knock the ball into gaps consistently with the odd boundary. Both passed half-centuries, raising generous affirmation from another healthy crowd, this time 40,556.

Ponting's period of greatest peril is starting to resemble Shane Watson's - when fit, fall somewhere between 50 and 100. Zaheer returned for a spell with the old ball and slanted across to draw a sliced drive and a catch in the gully. As he walked off, Ponting offered an unfussy wave of the bat to the MCG - who knows if he will be back to do so again.

Haddin sold his wicket dearly enough in the first innings, and did well with the gloves after an early dropped catch. But now he played another innings far too aggressive in the prevailing circumstances, essaying a handful of shots that weren't quite there before waving his bat brusquely at Zaheer and edging to second slip.

Hussey's innings might have ended soon after when he advanced and was beaten by a nicely dipping off break, but Dravid could not hold on to the edge. Siddle was unable to reprise his first innings, hanging his bat out at Yadav and being held well by Dhoni, diving in front of first slip. Lyon was granted a promotion in the batting order, perhaps to retain a right and left-handed union, but he had not scored when Ashwin's carrom ball pinned him in front of leg stump.

Dravid and Ishant had walked to the middle a little more than six hours before, their sights set on establishing a first-innings advantage. Hilfenhaus had been ineffective late on the second day, yet started things off on the third and enjoyed instant success. Dravid played the day's first delivery to mid-on, but the second slid subtly away from him to elude his defensive bat and flick off stump.

Laxman took guard on a ground where he has never enjoyed success, in marked contrast to the rest of Australia. This time he lingered 21 balls for two, before finally being undone by a Siddle delivery that shaped nicely away to catch an edge that Haddin pouched. Given the torment he has inflicted on them in the past, the Australians were understandably exultant.

Clarke only allowed three overs of Lyon's spin before recalling Hilfenhaus, and second ball the Tasmanian found the ideal line to draw Kohli's outside edge and grant Haddin another catch. Six wickets were down before the arrival of the second new ball.

Dhoni, so difficult to contain on Indian pitches, has shown vulnerability in foreign climes before, and there was a hint of the England tour about his brief stay. Now using a fresh projectile, Hilfenhaus gave India's captain a trio of straight deliveries before floating one wider, with bounce. An airy drive and a catch in the gully ensued, sinking the visitors deeper into the morning mire.

Let down by his batsmen, Ishant finally lost patience, and swished at another outswinger. Zaheer Khan was not inclined to hang around and he was soon bowled by Pattinson, having an unsightly heave at a full-length ball. Ashwin and Yadav offered a cheeky last-wicket stand of 23 before Siddle nipped out the off spinner.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    @landl47.. Perfectly put.. If u realize, Wt u said is not DRS(Decision Review system), bt the decision making itself.. Thats wt BCCI is also luking for.. They don't want review system.. Let umpires use wtever technology available and make decisions only whn they(Umpires) feel doubtful abt that. Players shouldn't challenge any of Umpire's decision.. Note dat.. the technology shud b available across all series and Continents and shud give constant results.. For dat to happen, predictive part of technology shud b get ridden of.. Use slow motion replays, which itself will eradicate 80% of wrong decisions.. Esp, howlers.. I dont mind marginal decisions going either way.. After all, its a human game.. Mistakes are expected..

  • vijay on December 30, 2011, 5:49 GMT

    @Karthik Raja: Well said Karthik. This guy D_G's problem is his insecurity that SRT is much ahead of Dravid. Period!! I'm a big big fan of SRT, but never will I be blasphemous of him. SRT and Dravid are the ones to have given me more joyous moments and at the same time have triggered my anger many a times. But for a loyal fan, he should learn to support his team through thick n thin and respect opponents and rivals with a level head.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas.. Wtever u say, Dravid's drops has proved costly in recent times.. A fielder of Dravid's caliber shud not b doing this.. Goin by comment, may b its Dravid who shud shift his game to Kabaddi if he cant hold on to catches and not the viewer.. U knw, v cant expect some1 to get runs/wickets whenever he comes to bat/bowl.. Bt, in cricket its must that u take sitters whn it comes ur way, esp in test matches.. tat too, of best batsmen.. No excuse abt that.. Btw, the so called paper god has been doin gud 4 long time.. Appreciate, whn some1 is doing gud.. If not, get out of his way..

  • vijay on December 29, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    Hurray...we are going to lose this.....Thanks to the "wall" Dravid, "intelligent" Dhoni and "Special" Laxman. Aussies bowled really really well....way to go. You deserve to win.......Happy new year folks!!!!

  • raj on December 29, 2011, 3:41 GMT

    India 69/5 in the second innings! So much for acclimatisation. Of the batsmen only SRT looks like he has ever played test cricket - hope he does not get a 100 because this is a losing cause and he will be criticised for getting a 100 in a losing cause!

  • raj on December 29, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    India could have won this first test comfortably if two bits of play had gone thier way - 1. LBW decision when Ponting was on 15 (but that is India's own fault for not adopting the DRS...after all, they did win the ODI WC when DRS was in use) and 2. dropped catch from Hussey (again India's own fault). If these two plays had gone India's way then they would be chasing about 100 runs less. Sure Aus got a couple harsh calls in their first innings which was offset by LBW decision in favour of Haddin.

  • Harish on December 29, 2011, 1:20 GMT

    I think all of us can agree that India need a different captain against lower order batsmen! Maybe Dhoni could leave the field and hand things over to Ashwin or Laxman, who seem to have an attacking mindset. :) The England disaster seems to have scarred Dhoni some. All the boundaries the England lower order scored are now the demons in his mind. And in trying to ensure there's no repeat of the same, he's bleeding his team to death. 37 runs to Pattinson?! If India lose this, a big part of the blame will fall on Dhoni. Like Ian Chappell said during commentary, "This is now a blue print on how to lose a test match." I hope Dravid, Sachin and Sehwag play this one cool and see it through. There's enough time and their skills are good enough. If they do, it promises to be a terrific finish to a great test match. Love the doggedness the Oz lower order showed. A lesson in tenacity for both captains.

  • Dinesh on December 29, 2011, 1:15 GMT

    @ Ravi Dararii: Cant believe so much ill-mouthed criticism against Dravid. Its agreed he dropped a sitter. I guess he has been doing it more often than the earlier days. I really didnt see anyone hailing his success as a slip fielder or him reaching milestone after milestone. But here we have people blaming on the first possible outbreak of mistakes. I've seen the cricketers each of the Dravid haters support making silly mistakes as well (Kohli/Dhoni/Raina etc...). The problem is those players are all accepted with mistakes but Dravid has been an embodiment of perfection that no mistakes are tolerated from him. I can accept people asking him to make way for the younger lads but I guess comments like these are a bit too harsh...

  • Prachi on December 29, 2011, 0:50 GMT

    How long will the selectors let Dhoni escape?? I cannot understand why he continues to be included as he brings nothing on the table for Team India in TEST matches. He may lead by example in ODIs but test is not his forte just like for Yuvraj and Raina. Dhoni is only suitable for ODIs Abroad but all formats in subcontinents. Another note, I hope Rohit is considered for next test over Gauti. Sadly I have to admit that Team India are known for collapses so Aussies pretty much have the upper hand always. Brain says Aussie win but heart says Indian win. At least, its been a great match so far and now we shall wait and see which team will have a happy new year's start.. Cricinfo please publish

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2011, 23:16 GMT

    Yet again an absorbing day of cricket, swinging ball and a pace of 140 plus or even 130 will make the best of batsmen struggle. Lets face australia though a young side is always a very strong side, their ability to hit back fro crises is laudable, at the same time I will not mince any words to crticize the indian batting as surely the 2nd morning was a position to build on, but not only did the make a mess of it ( looked like summer 2011 on a rewind) the utter spinelss display should raise concern with the people who manage the game in the country. Having said that the revelation has been the bowling of Umesh Yadav, ( let us hope he does not go the Ishant or Irfan way).He needs better support as at 27 for 4 any team would got the opposition out in less than the more concessions India makes how can they expect to win, to me seems more hope than reality just as we would expect Gambhir to score when the guy is wofully out of form, in hope we live.... .

  • No featured comments at the moment.