Plays of the day December 29, 2007

A grand total, and a pitch glitch

Cricinfo staff

India's poor fielding and running-between-the-wickets proved costly in this Test © Getty Images

Ponting's pitch glitch
Australia didn't make batting look too difficult at the MCG, even though the pitch was uncharacteristically slow. But India's struggles to post a decent score - they made 196 and 161 - gave a strong hint that it was tough going. Ricky Ponting explained just how awkward it was to get the ball away. "That's probably the hardest wicket to score on that I've ever played a Test match on in Australia," Ponting said. That's a big call, considering Ponting has played 65 Tests at home. But it's perhaps not a huge surprise - after all, Ponting was out for 4 and 3.

A grand total
Cricket is a statistical game but even this one might have slipped under the radar of some enthusiasts. When VVS Laxman turned Mitchell Johnson for a single to midwicket to take India's score to 33 it was the 100,000th run scored in Tests at the MCG. Anyone who needed to reach for the calculator to work out the average aggregate per Test might need a primary-school maths refresher course. It was the ground's 100th Test, making the average mighty close to a nice even 1000 runs a game. And how many runs were made in this match? Pretty darn close to the average - 1051.

Sealed in the field
India's poor ground fielding was a talking point and the difference between the sides was never more obvious than when Harbhajan Singh was run out without facing a ball. Sourav Ganguly pushed the ball to cover where Michael Hussey pounced and hurled it back to the bowler Brad Hogg, who ricocheted the ball onto the stumps to have Harbhajan millimetres short after backing up too far. Ponting was a happy man. "Our fielding in both innings of this game was outstanding," Ponting said. "We took nearly every chance that came our way and the run-out towards the end of today's play really summed up one of the major differences between the two teams." Anil Kumble defended his side's catching but conceded their ground fielding was poor, although with so many over-35s in the team he didn't think any extra zip would spontaneously appear.

The no-ball curse
Thirty seven wickets fell in this game but there were three instances that the scorecard won't tell you about. Mitchell Johnson and Zaheer Khan had been frustrated by wickets with no-balls and Brett Lee might have had a good appeal against Wasim Jaffer today. Jaffer fended at a short one that appeared to have caught his glove but Billy Bowden's arm was outstretched by then.