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Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 3rd day
Australia's bowling a bit thin
January 4, 2008
India fightback as the Australian bowlers struggle on a good batting track
 
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Ian Chappell: "Brett Lee is a very good allround bowler and he has lots of ways of getting the batsmen out" © Getty Images

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk and as always I have with me former captain of Australia, Ian Chappell to look back on an action-packed day of cricket at the SCG.

Ian we saw a tremendous fightback from India. Considering the way their batting had collectively failed in the first Test, would the Australians have been surprised at their performance and more importantly, frustrated at the way the Indian tail wagged?

Ian Chappell: Well [they would] certainly have been frustrated, but I don't know if they would have been surprised. A few of these guys have a reputation of playing very well in Sydney(laughs). So it may not have been such a surprise.

I thought it was actually Sourav Ganguly who got them [India] going today at a stage when they really couldn't afford to lose a couple of early wickets. He's playing confidently and aggressively and really, he made only one mistake and that got him out. I guess that's why he was so cranky when he was dismissed. But he made things easier for Sachin Tendulkar with the way he started and then Tendulkar capitalised brilliantly.

AR: Your thoughts on Tendulkar's knock, especially the way cut loose in the second half of his innings.

IC: Well, the crowd at the SCG have been absolutely brilliant and I'm sure that a lot of them came along to see VVS Laxman and Tendulkar because they have great records at this ground. The people who came to watch Tendulkar weren't disappointed one bit because he played a very controlled innings. I think what he said to himself was, India need a lead in this game because batting fourth isn't going to be easy at the SCG and it's my job to stay there and make sure that India gets a lead. And that's exactly the way he did it.

There were times when he went on the attack, but in general, he had his innings under control. We still saw some of the brilliant shots you expect from Tendulkar but he was in control of not only his innings but also of his emotions. I think he contributed greatly to the way that Harbhajan [Singh] played. I think Harbhajan started rather nervously, playing a flurry of shots and then Tendulkar had a chat with him and after that Harbhajan played very well and I think that was an important partnership for the Indians.

AR: You spoke about it being a good pitch for batting yesterday and we saw the Australian bowlers struggling a bit today. Was it a case of not having a plan B, or just very good batting?

IC: Well it's a very good pitch and I think that the Australian bowling, apart from Brett Lee, has been shown to be a bit thin on a really good pitch. I thought Lee once again bowled tremendously well. Mitchell Johnson is an inexperienced bowler and he seems better at angling the ball across the right-handers rather than swing it back in to them. If he can get that inswing to the right-handers, he will be a more dangerous bowler. But the thing that he does do, is that he keeps up his pace well.

Stuart Clark has struggled a bit in this match. He hasn't been bowled as much as the other two quickies by Ricky Ponting. Clark is always tidy but he did not look anywhere near as penetrative [as he normally is] in this innings.

Brad Hogg bowled very well to get Ganguly. I thought it was a good idea to come at that angle - around the wicket to the left-hander - but I thought that he overdid that ploy, staying around the wicket too long to Tendulkar. Over the wicket, most of the times, is the better ploy for the right-handers and go around the wicket occasionally for a bit of variation. Hogg is a steady spinner and ideally he would be your second spinner in the Test side because he can make a few runs and can get you a handy wicket or two. But I guess Australia have been spoiled for so long with Shane Warne being the No. 1 spinner that everyone else who comes along is compared with Warne, and that is a pretty difficult comparison.

 
 
I would be very surprised if Australia are not trying to get to stumps on the fourth day, in a position where they can declare, and set India an imposing target. No one has every got 300 to win a match batting fourth in Sydney. Australia will be aware of that and they will try to give themselves probably 80 overs [to bowl] on the last day setting India a stiff task
 

AR: We saw a controlled spell of fast bowling from Lee and he really seems be in a very good rhythm now, especially in the role of the spearhead of the attack.

IC: Lee is a very consistent fast bowler and he has made some improvements to his bowling. He constantly seems to be able to get the ball to swing away, particularly when it's new and even sometimes later in the innings. One thing that he has added to his armoury is every now and again, he seems to bowl a slighter slower delivery and he gets that one to swing away. He also has that inswinging yorker that he uses against tailenders. I think he probably got a little tired at the end of the innings and the tailenders were able to crack a few of those attempted yorkers away. But he's a very good allround bowler now and he's got a lot of ways of getting batsmen out.

AR: Possibly for the first time Australia are under pressure in this series. How do you see them approaching this game now?

IC: I don't think that they'll change their approach too much. They will perhaps be a little steady until they get rid of the deficit, but once they have done that and if they haven't lost too many wickets, I think they will look to be aggressive. I would be very surprised if they are not trying to get to stumps on the fourth day, in a position where they can declare, and set India an imposing target. No one has got 300 to win a match batting fourth in Sydney. Australia will be aware of that and they will try to give themselves probably 80 overs [to bowl] on the last day.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist


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