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

MCG pitch gives Test perfect narrative

The MCG has provided the pitch and the stage to two less-than-perfect teams to weave together the perfect narrative that has kept everyone - batsmen, bowler, and spectators - interested
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If you didn't allow yourself to be distracted by the chatter about the Decision Review System, a far better story lay there before you: Test cricket in its finest suit. The MCG has provided the pitch and the stage to two less-than-perfect teams to weave together the perfect narrative that has kept everyone - batsmen, bowler, and spectators - interested.

The fall-of-wickets column suggests an awkward batting surface. The truth is that the pitch has done Test cricket credit: it has consistently rewarded good bowling, and skillful batsmen have found the way to score runs. At the most, there has been the hint of uneven bounce, but hardly any treachery. Batsmen have managed to drive on the up, down the ground, cut and pull and defend comfortably, but at the same time, they haven't been able to take the runs for granted; they have had to be vigilant and resourceful. Cricket is at its most satisfying when both runs and wickets feel earned and the large crowds that have turned up on each day have been handsomely rewarded.

When Sachin Tendulkar found his top game yesterday, the ball hurried through the turf as if it had friends waiting beyond the ropes, but as has been the case throughout the match, the wicket-taking ball was lurking in the corner. Peter Siddle might have cost the MCG some serious gate money on the third day by finding Tendulkar's stumps in the dying moments yesterday, but he burst the match open dramatically.

Though the scorecard didn't do full justice to Australia's effort yesterday, each of their quick bowlers stood guilty of bowling at least one poor spell. How well did they make up for it today? Leave aside a poor spell, there was hardly a poor ball all morning. Rahul Dravid, who was fortunate to survive yesterday, received what must count as an overnight batsman's worst nightmare: the dream ball from the right-arm swing bowler, in the first over of the morning. Ben Hilfenhaus landed the ball on the middle stump on the perfect length, and it moved just enough to evade the bat and hit off stump. It was fitting that two special balls accounted for Test cricket's most prolific run-getters.

Perhaps it was fortuitous for Australia that Siddle, indifferent in the first spell, found a cause to rouse himself after shattering Dravid's stumps with a no-ball. His sense of grievance - though he had no one to blame but himself - became the rallying point for Australia's comeback and they managed to carry the intensity into the following day. It could be argued that India's lower middle order surrendered their wickets through tentative strokes but the truth was that Australia's quick men were relentless.

VVS Laxman was kept scoreless for 19 balls; Virat Kohli found some release against Nathan Lyon, but was given no space by the fast men; MS Dhoni fell to a familiar trap, driving at a fullish and swinging ball outside off stump. For India, the MCG has become the place for spectacular first-innings collapses, nothing more dramatic and sudden than the meltdown in 2003 when they slumped from 1 for 278 to 366 all out after Virender Sehwag had belted 195 before tea. In 2007, they lost 7 for 76 and the tally read 8 for 68 today.

Though the scorecard didn't do full justice to Australia's effort yesterday, each of their quick bowlers stood guilty of bowling at least one poor spell. How well did they make up for it today? Leave aside a poor spell, there was hardly a poor ball all morning

But unlike those two occasions, the bowlers have kept them in the contest in this match. They have learnt from mistakes in the first innings when they bowled a yard shorter, taking leg-before and bowled out of the equation, and while they beat the bat often enough, they quickly absorbed the lesson from Australia that it's the full length that often finds the edge. The home side's top order contributed with poor and indecisive strokes, but each of the first three dismissals was brought about by a ball that landed closer to the batsman.

And for the first time in many seasons, India forged an attack with no obvious weak links. After Umesh Yadav, who grows more impressive by the innings, and Zaheer Khan had delivered splendid opening spells, Ishant Sharma, unlike many times in the recent past, didn't serve as the release bowler. And R Ashwin, though not as threatening as the quick men, didn't serve up singles on demand. Even when Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey were mounting a stand, the ball beat the bat often enough. It is a cliché that a wicket is always a ball away, but all through today, it was always a tangible possibility.

Reverse-swing or not, Zaheer has mastered the art of taking wickets with the old ball, and like in the first innings, he delivered two wickets in the last session to keep this fantastic Test in the balance.

But expect this match to keep turning. Hussey, who has managed to taste the vagaries of fate over the course of three days - done in by an umpiring error in the first innings, survived an appeal that would gone against him had DRS been used, and benefited from a spilled catch at slip - has kept his own place and his team in contest with a performance that has typified his career.

That it was nearly fifty years ago that a 200-plus chase was achieved at the MCG, should point to a position of ascendancy for Australia. India have mounted their best chases in the last four years, and it was only a few Tests ago that South Africa casually chased down 250 after 23 wickets had fallen the previous day Cape Town. If you have the chance, be there at the MCG tomorrow.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 29, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    i thnk india vil cme backin d rmaing match......dnt thnk abt d prvs game plz thnk abt d future match.......all are wel xprncd plyrz in hme and away grnd.,...v cn encrge 4 our team....

  • ecricl on December 29, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    last indian wicket has fallen less than 15 min ago. Good staff by Aussies. India once again need to think about their way of winning matches abroad. heavy scorers in flat pitch finding once again hard to go on for longer period. Well a few blazing shot in a hour may manage 40+ or 50+ innings to keep the average safe and wait for indian ground to make the average go up 55+................ha ha this guys are voted as player of all time eleven by poll........i wonder whether they understand the game or not..............

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 29, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    The Indian bowlers were all over the place on the 4th day morning. Don't they warm up beforehand? How come they can't bowl stump to stump? Why can't Zaheer and Ishant bowl inswingers after all these years? Why was there no energy aamonst the bowlers? Yadav didn't even appeal properly for the Hussey LBW that was plumb! Have you seen Warne and Murali appealing? No wonder they get so many wickets! Why can't somebody tell Dhoni to keep a 3rd man and bowl with a 7-2 field? India must have given away close to a 100 runs in the 3rd man area in the Test! Winning a Test is about making it tough for the opposition to SCORE and that's the BASICS which any captain AND bowler should know. Indians play sloppily and hence invariably slip in tight situations. The Indian top order didn't innovate either! Standing outside the crease on a middlle stump guard for eg. The Indian tail showed no application in contrast to the Aussie tail in bowling and batting that was the difference in the match.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 29, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    There is an old saying in rural India pertaining to street dancers. It said " dancers who can't dance, end up blaming the street". This repeated talk of the pitch and the 4th and 5th day wickets is symptomatic of the blindspot which Indians have, when it comes to buckling under non-existent "pressure". It happened in the 1st as well as 2nd innings. All that the batsmen had to do, to settle in was leave the balls outside the offstump and play with a straight bat those that came in, until they settled in. A batsman has not settled in unless he has played 50 balls and got himself in. When there are wickets falling at the other end, one needs to grind and show grit to stay even more resolutely and not flash like Zaheer. It's a shame he does that after 10 years of cricket. No application. contd...

  • nulla on December 29, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Double failure in Aussie conditions by Gambhir. Expect an injury to be revealed. Very surprised if he lasts 4 tests.

  • Wacco on December 29, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    india's famed batting line-up is a big joke nowadays! Laxman looks like a mummy. This was the time their service was needed the most and invariably they fail collectively. This is not the first time it happened and neither will be the last. They need either Indian wickets or dibly-dobly bowlers who will bowl only straight balls and half-volleys. Their current best batsman Sharma is in the freezer.

  • phoenixsteve on December 29, 2011, 4:31 GMT

    It looks like the Indian team of once great players (on flat tracks) are about to be taught just how weak Indian TEST cricket is? Disappointing and spineless display from this second rate test team but a good showing from an up-and-coming Aussie side! Time for the 'greats' to collect their pensions I think and time for BCCI to get in step with world cricket? India have some serious rebuilding to do and all the BCCI money is getting in the way.......

  • BoonBoom on December 29, 2011, 4:22 GMT

    Mr Bal....... Perhaps your piece of writing is trying to make this as perfect test match!!! To me it looks like fimiliar Indian batting failure that we saw throughout the last English summer.

  • Nev_19 on December 29, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    For me, the obvious PASSENGERs were G Gambhir and VVS Laxman; the PRETENDER was R Ashwin. I think it is time we brought in youth at No. 3 (Dravid's time is past us!) I wonder if we have the resources in our squad to tweak in time (on this tour) if we are to attempt recovery...

  • niceslacks on December 29, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    Hey Dravidgood, I think you'll find that Dravid had little to do with the MCG pitch. Pretty much all Australian pitches have been result pitches in recent times (look at the series vs NZ), and as a fan of test cricket I can only hope other countries take a look at their pitches and do the same. Those tests in the subcontinent which have teams trading first innings of 500 are the ones killing tests, and killing bowlers. Not to mention inflating batting records in the process. I for one, much rather watch Tendulkar batting for a fluent 60 or 70 on this pitch, than hit 200 on a dead flat track where batsmen with half his skill can do the same.

  • on December 29, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    i thnk india vil cme backin d rmaing match......dnt thnk abt d prvs game plz thnk abt d future match.......all are wel xprncd plyrz in hme and away grnd.,...v cn encrge 4 our team....

  • ecricl on December 29, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    last indian wicket has fallen less than 15 min ago. Good staff by Aussies. India once again need to think about their way of winning matches abroad. heavy scorers in flat pitch finding once again hard to go on for longer period. Well a few blazing shot in a hour may manage 40+ or 50+ innings to keep the average safe and wait for indian ground to make the average go up 55+................ha ha this guys are voted as player of all time eleven by poll........i wonder whether they understand the game or not..............

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 29, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    The Indian bowlers were all over the place on the 4th day morning. Don't they warm up beforehand? How come they can't bowl stump to stump? Why can't Zaheer and Ishant bowl inswingers after all these years? Why was there no energy aamonst the bowlers? Yadav didn't even appeal properly for the Hussey LBW that was plumb! Have you seen Warne and Murali appealing? No wonder they get so many wickets! Why can't somebody tell Dhoni to keep a 3rd man and bowl with a 7-2 field? India must have given away close to a 100 runs in the 3rd man area in the Test! Winning a Test is about making it tough for the opposition to SCORE and that's the BASICS which any captain AND bowler should know. Indians play sloppily and hence invariably slip in tight situations. The Indian top order didn't innovate either! Standing outside the crease on a middlle stump guard for eg. The Indian tail showed no application in contrast to the Aussie tail in bowling and batting that was the difference in the match.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 29, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    There is an old saying in rural India pertaining to street dancers. It said " dancers who can't dance, end up blaming the street". This repeated talk of the pitch and the 4th and 5th day wickets is symptomatic of the blindspot which Indians have, when it comes to buckling under non-existent "pressure". It happened in the 1st as well as 2nd innings. All that the batsmen had to do, to settle in was leave the balls outside the offstump and play with a straight bat those that came in, until they settled in. A batsman has not settled in unless he has played 50 balls and got himself in. When there are wickets falling at the other end, one needs to grind and show grit to stay even more resolutely and not flash like Zaheer. It's a shame he does that after 10 years of cricket. No application. contd...

  • nulla on December 29, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Double failure in Aussie conditions by Gambhir. Expect an injury to be revealed. Very surprised if he lasts 4 tests.

  • Wacco on December 29, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    india's famed batting line-up is a big joke nowadays! Laxman looks like a mummy. This was the time their service was needed the most and invariably they fail collectively. This is not the first time it happened and neither will be the last. They need either Indian wickets or dibly-dobly bowlers who will bowl only straight balls and half-volleys. Their current best batsman Sharma is in the freezer.

  • phoenixsteve on December 29, 2011, 4:31 GMT

    It looks like the Indian team of once great players (on flat tracks) are about to be taught just how weak Indian TEST cricket is? Disappointing and spineless display from this second rate test team but a good showing from an up-and-coming Aussie side! Time for the 'greats' to collect their pensions I think and time for BCCI to get in step with world cricket? India have some serious rebuilding to do and all the BCCI money is getting in the way.......

  • BoonBoom on December 29, 2011, 4:22 GMT

    Mr Bal....... Perhaps your piece of writing is trying to make this as perfect test match!!! To me it looks like fimiliar Indian batting failure that we saw throughout the last English summer.

  • Nev_19 on December 29, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    For me, the obvious PASSENGERs were G Gambhir and VVS Laxman; the PRETENDER was R Ashwin. I think it is time we brought in youth at No. 3 (Dravid's time is past us!) I wonder if we have the resources in our squad to tweak in time (on this tour) if we are to attempt recovery...

  • niceslacks on December 29, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    Hey Dravidgood, I think you'll find that Dravid had little to do with the MCG pitch. Pretty much all Australian pitches have been result pitches in recent times (look at the series vs NZ), and as a fan of test cricket I can only hope other countries take a look at their pitches and do the same. Those tests in the subcontinent which have teams trading first innings of 500 are the ones killing tests, and killing bowlers. Not to mention inflating batting records in the process. I for one, much rather watch Tendulkar batting for a fluent 60 or 70 on this pitch, than hit 200 on a dead flat track where batsmen with half his skill can do the same.

  • on December 28, 2011, 23:15 GMT

    I think India will win this test only if they manage to survive the spongy bounce of the pitch. If they can post 120 odd with may be only 2 or 3 wickets down, they can easily beat Australia. On the other hand, it may go down to the wire on the 5th day, if the Aussies manage to push the lead past 350 (which is unlikely). Worst case scenario, they should atleast draw the game. If Yadav was able to make the ball swing, Pattinson will be licking his lips.

  • deepak.inss on December 28, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    Sambit, your analysis is true about the new looking indian bowlers with a aggressive, relentless and more improtantly the realisation of self belief that they can bowl to the occassion. Indian batsmen should draw a similar line and take a stride forward in second inning and carry on the good work which their bowlers have left with such a impact on this game. With positive attitude and self belief our batsmen should be able to chase any target within 280. It would be a great sense of achievement for the entire country if we can pull this one as its some time now that we have won a test in MCG. Year should end on a GOOD note !!! Cheers

  • LivinginUSA on December 28, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    When I see such exciting test matches, I find absolutely no comparison between test and T20. T20 is just entertainment, it's not sport. Test cricket is sport and if there are such pitches, it is entertainment as well. We don't need T20. I don't have the exact numbers, but there have been numerous tests that have been decisive in the recent past. Don't see too many drawn tests these days. ODI and T20 have certainly helped tests, and that's what should stay. It would be great if both the tourists India and SL win.

  • lokesh.agarwal on December 28, 2011, 20:44 GMT

    This has been a top class game. Test cricket at its finest. When everyone earns their rewards, skillful batting, accurate bowling.. just the right pitch... that is what is going to keep test cricket alive. A huge credit must be given to the groundsmen for producing a fantastic wicket. This is such a HUGE contrast from West Indies tour of India recently concluded which was marred by poor wickets, and one sided matches. I wish i could be there tomorrow to watch this live.

  • on December 28, 2011, 20:26 GMT

    It will be a close match especially if India can finish off the tail early tomorrow.

  • DrDeepakSitaramHiwale on December 28, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    great article..when Sambit Bal started off on cricinfo...I was like, 'I can do a better job than that...'. But he has improved by leaps and bounds...so much so, that now I get a bit doubtful when I say to myself...'I can do a better job..' Kudos, mate...! Keep up the good work.

  • SmellyCat on December 28, 2011, 19:25 GMT

    Without being over critical, I think Dhoni lacks the punch in the longer format of the game. He allowed Ponting and Hussey easy escape by spreading the field when Oz was 28/4. And add to that.. he has rarely delivered as batsmen in Tests outside sub-continent. Maybe time for him to show what he did in WC final.. move himself above Virat, if needed.

  • on December 28, 2011, 19:23 GMT

    Whatever the outcome of the match, hope India gives it a good fight and their batsmen show some character. It was a disgrace watching the team in England, and now this tour is all about respect. So far the performance in this match has been promising, especially the bowling. But India does stand a good chance. Don't think the pitch will crack up or anything so if they have the willingness to stay out there and bat for long periods IND should win this.

  • allblue on December 28, 2011, 19:12 GMT

    It almost seems that we are going back to Test matches from a couple of decades ago. Where a score of 300 is competitive and 350 is good; run-rates of about 3 rpo; some genuine pace and genuine swing bowlers rattling batsmen; no video technology to help the umpires... Sorry, couldn't resist that last one! There's no doubt that cricket is best when the ball has a slight advantage over the bat, the 600 plays 550 score bore draws of recent times have been strangling the game, but when at any time a good bowler can deliver a good ball that gets a good batsman out the spectacle is riveting. Going in to Day 4 either side can win, and that's how it should be I reckon.

  • donda on December 28, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    Test cricket at it's best in australia this summer. Nz won a great match and this match seems like going into same route . India may win it but it will be nail bitter and VVS is the key because of his 4th innings dominance. Let's see.

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:11 GMT

    just need natural game for chasers

  • nyc_missile on December 28, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    "It could be argued that India's lower middle order surrendered their wickets through tentative strokes" Well,with all due regards Mr Bal,this is a bit of an understatement.Barring Dravid,the rest were absolutely rash&careless gifting away their wickets.Ashwin showed what could be done,shame on the middle order once again squandering the advantage.For all his talk pre-match,Laxman is becoming a lazy batsman when he is required the most..

  • kitten on December 28, 2011, 17:28 GMT

    ' Hussey, who has managed to taste the vagaries of fate over the course of three days - done in by an umpiring error in the first innings, survived an appeal that would gone against him had DRS been used'. This just goes to prove what every cricket lover knows, what you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabout. He was wrongly given out in the first innings, but wrongly given not out in the second. Scores even. Chapter closed.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 28, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    Nicely put Bal. The hype around the flawed DRS is silly. Hussey had his share of luck and bad luck. The human element in cricket is ingrained in its fabric and spirit. I don't know why people want to kill the spirit that makes cricket what it is for the sake of a flawed DRS. We need to leave the issue of Hussey and Ponting getting or not getting the benefit because of lack of DRS; move on and enjoy the bigger drama that is unfolding at MCG.

  • on December 28, 2011, 16:51 GMT

    INDIA may lose the test by 30 runs if both the openers fail. if either one of them clicks then virat will score the winning runs. count on me.

  • dravidgood on December 28, 2011, 16:36 GMT

    and the Oz dont spill chances this time. Sachin and Lakshman are unlikely to wither the storm all by themselves in the fashion that Hussey and Ponting did. That said, they are proven customers and not too far away from surprising one and all. The key is momentum. Both the teams will get their chances and the one which siezes their's and holds onto them would likely take the match away acceleratingly from the other. Is not this how Test cricket should be staged.

  • dravidgood on December 28, 2011, 16:35 GMT

    out as a reason as to why Australia were still in the game, his would be it. But it is only avenging for me as I personally had not an iota of a doubt. In a lineup featuring Test newbies hitherto un-tested and still trying to find its feet, it is a ridiculous method to pressurise the likes of Ponting and Hussey. And they deserve a place not only for these negative reasons. I guess they deserve a place purely on merit. The sea that separates them from the rest in skill and Test temperament was evident in the second session on play Day 3 when they looked effortless in negotiating the conditions in the most trying of circumstances. Should Ponting find his mojo back which he has increasingly looked to, India might have to bring in another variable of a problem into the equation which they have rather eaasily ignored to start with. The key for India however lies among the top 3 in my opinion. Sehwag can take the game away but also give a nitro boost to the bowlers if he throws his wicket

  • AjaySridharan on December 28, 2011, 16:35 GMT

    Test Cricket at its best! Definitely not the highest standards of batting and bowling consistently, but the sheer drama of it makes it all worth it. How I wish I could be at the MCG tomorrow...but I'll be glued to my laptop all night watching the live streaming! Would love it to be a 260 run chase...giving Australia the psychological edge of a 250+ chase, and India the satisfaction of having chased a 250+ target. Perfect stage set for another one of Laxman's 2nd innings heroics and a chance for him to rectify his poor record at the MCG!

  • dravidgood on December 28, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    Sambit, nice analysis. The drives that Ponting, Cowan, Sachin, Sehwag and Hussey have played in the last few days indicate that it is a decent batting surface while there have been numerous balls beating the edge, occasional bounce and a good length ball has always looked a wicket taking prospect. Looks like Dravid's appeal to save Test cricket had a profound affect on the curator at the MCG. We can only hope that other curators and management round the globe understand their enormous role in making Test cricket delightful. That said, the cricket has been rewarding. Fast bowling as an art and force has been displayed in full glory and nerves have been tested. There were at least two champions who a few arm-chair critics were keen to write off before the start of the test and they should decipher and savor the taste of the dish of humble-pie for goodness' sake. Ricky Ponting was fluent amid trying conditions and majestic among cricketing adversity. If one man's name had to be singled

  • cricketcrazy555 on December 28, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    Gud to C the competition between bat and ball

  • on December 28, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    India has such good pacemen and such good recent record in fast pitches that BCCI should not think twice about preparing such pitches at home. I would take a defeat at MCG than a mindless draw where each side score 500 odd. Imagine if Zaheer gets such pitches at home (where he plays more than 50% of his matches) he could be a true legend.

  • on December 28, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    its a nerve testing test. like to see 3 indians[sachin, dravid and vvs] play their best.

  • stormy16 on December 28, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Great test cricket and its still there to be won and what a perfect set up - argubaly one of the best batting line up's ever, against an inexperienced attack but chasing a 4th innings score to win, away - everything balances in to a great contest between bat and ball - test cricket at its very best and what better place than the boxing day test at the G. The only problem is the game could be over by the time we wake up on the other side of the world.

  • prashkannam on December 28, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Hello ......its an awesome test match....though the indian batsmen have nicked far too many deliveries...dont blame them either....for too long they have been batting on batting beauties of subcontinent..their bowlers are the saviours the so called experienced line up needs to buck up and show more resilience and fight to make this test match competitive!! and Mr Sambit Bal a nice article...!!

  • on December 28, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Cricket is at its most interesting when wickets are falling. If the bowlers aren't given a chance, neither are the spectators. There have been three great wickets in Oz this year. The best batsmen can make runs and persistently good bowling gets wickets. Hussey, Ponting, Sehwag and Tendulkar - all class - showed this wicket is thrivable.

  • RandyOZ on December 28, 2011, 11:43 GMT

    Sambit we know you hate the DRS but it should still be in place! Ricky Ponting showed today was he is second only to Bradman and Hussey showed why he is so much better than Sachin!

  • on December 28, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    Yesterday, in his pitch report Sastri said conditions were perfect for batting. I assumed he meant the pitch. So what went wrong. It is hardly ever the pitch. When the pitch is that bad they call off the game. I saw that twice in the WI, Jamaica & Antigua. It's about batting skills. And in this case the ability to play great pace bowling on a relatively helpful pitch. The few batters with the appropriate skills will make runs. Once cricket is being played in Aus, it will be about pace bowling, that is why 6 pacers r playing in this match. India will have to dig deep to win this one.

  • on December 28, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    rightly said. We dearly need such sporting wickets to keep alive a breed called fast bowlers and to keep alive a culture and art called Test cricket.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on December 28, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    rightly said. We dearly need such sporting wickets to keep alive a breed called fast bowlers and to keep alive a culture and art called Test cricket.

  • on December 28, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    Yesterday, in his pitch report Sastri said conditions were perfect for batting. I assumed he meant the pitch. So what went wrong. It is hardly ever the pitch. When the pitch is that bad they call off the game. I saw that twice in the WI, Jamaica & Antigua. It's about batting skills. And in this case the ability to play great pace bowling on a relatively helpful pitch. The few batters with the appropriate skills will make runs. Once cricket is being played in Aus, it will be about pace bowling, that is why 6 pacers r playing in this match. India will have to dig deep to win this one.

  • RandyOZ on December 28, 2011, 11:43 GMT

    Sambit we know you hate the DRS but it should still be in place! Ricky Ponting showed today was he is second only to Bradman and Hussey showed why he is so much better than Sachin!

  • on December 28, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Cricket is at its most interesting when wickets are falling. If the bowlers aren't given a chance, neither are the spectators. There have been three great wickets in Oz this year. The best batsmen can make runs and persistently good bowling gets wickets. Hussey, Ponting, Sehwag and Tendulkar - all class - showed this wicket is thrivable.

  • prashkannam on December 28, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Hello ......its an awesome test match....though the indian batsmen have nicked far too many deliveries...dont blame them either....for too long they have been batting on batting beauties of subcontinent..their bowlers are the saviours the so called experienced line up needs to buck up and show more resilience and fight to make this test match competitive!! and Mr Sambit Bal a nice article...!!

  • stormy16 on December 28, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    Great test cricket and its still there to be won and what a perfect set up - argubaly one of the best batting line up's ever, against an inexperienced attack but chasing a 4th innings score to win, away - everything balances in to a great contest between bat and ball - test cricket at its very best and what better place than the boxing day test at the G. The only problem is the game could be over by the time we wake up on the other side of the world.

  • on December 28, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    its a nerve testing test. like to see 3 indians[sachin, dravid and vvs] play their best.

  • on December 28, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    India has such good pacemen and such good recent record in fast pitches that BCCI should not think twice about preparing such pitches at home. I would take a defeat at MCG than a mindless draw where each side score 500 odd. Imagine if Zaheer gets such pitches at home (where he plays more than 50% of his matches) he could be a true legend.

  • cricketcrazy555 on December 28, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    Gud to C the competition between bat and ball

  • dravidgood on December 28, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    Sambit, nice analysis. The drives that Ponting, Cowan, Sachin, Sehwag and Hussey have played in the last few days indicate that it is a decent batting surface while there have been numerous balls beating the edge, occasional bounce and a good length ball has always looked a wicket taking prospect. Looks like Dravid's appeal to save Test cricket had a profound affect on the curator at the MCG. We can only hope that other curators and management round the globe understand their enormous role in making Test cricket delightful. That said, the cricket has been rewarding. Fast bowling as an art and force has been displayed in full glory and nerves have been tested. There were at least two champions who a few arm-chair critics were keen to write off before the start of the test and they should decipher and savor the taste of the dish of humble-pie for goodness' sake. Ricky Ponting was fluent amid trying conditions and majestic among cricketing adversity. If one man's name had to be singled