Australia v India, 4th Test, Sydney

Making the batsmen play

Rahul Bhatia

January 2, 2004

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At the end of first day of the first Test of the new year, India were 284 for three. It's a position of some comfort, but India were anything but comfortable on their journey to the total. There was a catch off a no-ball, edges that didn't carry, run-out chances, and dropped catches; all in all, a day of nerve-wracking cricket.

Making the batsmen play

Before the match began, Steve Waugh empathised with the Indians, saying that he wouldn't have liked facing Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie. The two bowlers lived up to Waugh's words, picking up the only three wickets that fell today, and always looked close to making another breakthrough. Although Lee was profligate with runs, he showed more control, and made the batsmen play more, than Gillespie. In the morning session, nearly half of all deliveries Lee bowled were let through to the keeper. That changed dramatically after lunch, when he made the batsmen play four out of every five deliveries.

Making the batsmen play
Before Lunch After lunch
Brett Lee 58.50% 82.20%
Jason Gillespie 76.50% 64.20%

Bowling a line wide of the stumps negated the good length Gillespie pitched on, and the batsmen left nearly 30% of everything he threw at them. But Gillespie ended with the wickets of Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag, which came only when the batsmen were made to play at deliveries for sustained periods of time.

Tendulkar's on-side play

India had lost two quick wickets when Sachin Tendulkar came out to bat. His own form wasn't too reassuring, either. So far, Australia had worked to a plan; as long as they kept things tight, packing the off side with fielders, he would find ways to get himself out. But the Tendulkar who batted today was more resilient. Though he was troubled by Stuart MacGill, he played himself in, and didn't try too hard to score runs on the off side. Instead, he took advantage of the 7-2 field, and scored a large number of his runs on the leg side, even though two-thirds off all the deliveries he faced were outside off stump.

Tendulkar's resilience
Total balls faced 156
Balls outside off stump 101
Runs scored - off side 19
Runs scored - leg side 54
Boundaries - off side 3
Boundaries - leg side 9

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