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India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 1st day
Chappell: 'India have their nose ahead'
October 9, 2008
Ricky Ponting's century was the highlight but a last-ball wicket gives India the edge
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Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of India
Teams: Australia | India
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The partnership between Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich got Australia well and truly on the way © Getty Images

Ian Chappell: Ricky Ponting must be wondering as he sits back and enjoys in his dressing room, why he ever thought it was so difficult to make runs in India. I thought he played marvellously well in scoring his first Test century in this country and also in rescuing his side from a position of trouble with one wicket down without a run on the board. That partnership with Simon Katich [166 runs] got Australia well and truly on the way. Ponting was much more relaxed today than he has been in the past when he has played in India. If your arms are relaxed you are not jabbing at the ball as he often does against Harbhajan Singh. It was a glorious knock from Ponting and as always it was played with one eye on winning the game. He accelerated after battling hard early on against some very good bowling from Zaheer Khan and particularly, Ishant Sharma.

He also got terrific support. Katich probably got his place in the side not just because of the runs he scored in the West Indies but also because he is also a very good player of spin bowling; a much better player of spin than Phil Jaques and that stood him in good stead. After helping Ponting through that early new-ball spell, I thought he played the spinners very solidly. That is one of the great things about Katich's batting: he knows what he can't do and what he can do and he stays well and truly within those parameters.

The Australians have talked about playing 'new-age cricket'. Well there wasn't much 'new-age' about it but it definitely had an edge to it. It was very competitive and exactly what you would expect from a Test match where the bowlers are testing the batsmen. Australia would have been a bit disappointed after having reached 166 for 1 and then losing the wicket of Michael Clarke right in the last over of the day. Zaheer took a wicket in the first and the last over of the day and it's amazing how one ball can change the day. At 254 for 3 Australia would have been thinking they were a little bit on top. With Zaheer getting that last wicket and the score reading 254 for 4, it doesn't seem that different, but the great thing is that India have bowled only a couple of overs with the second new ball. So it will be fresh bowlers with a brand new ball in the morning and that will give India the opportunity to restrict the Australians.

I think they will need to restrict the Australians because the pitch is a rather strange one. There were a lot of balls that weren't carrying through to the wicketkeeper and the ball that got Clarke hit him pretty low on the pad. So there wasn't a lot of bounce there. The Indians wouldn't want the Australians to get more than 300 let alone 400. The Indian spinners were steady, nothing much more than that. I thought some of the fields placings conceded easy runs too often and the Australians capitalised on that.

I thought the best of the bowlers was Zaheer; I thought he bowled extremely steadily and got the ball to move around a little bit. Australia, having won the toss and having chosen to bat, will want to capitalise and will want to get a score of around 400.

After the first day's play I think India may have just got their nose in front. Ponting would have been particularly disappointed with the way the score ended up after they had reached 161 for 1 and 254 for 3, especially after he had made a century. But it was a very competitive and combative first day of the Test and I am sure we will see a lot more like it in this series.

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

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Posted by Vipul on (October 10, 2008, 4:48 GMT)

Let me make it clear from the outset that I am Indian and I really derive a lot of pleasure whenever out Team does well on the cricket field. But still I think that the battle between the most inexperienced bowling line up from Australia to have ever landed on the Indian shores and the 'strongest' batting line - up in the world in the 4th innings would be decisive. Personally I would be very disappointed indeed if the Fab 4 succumb to Lee and Co. cheaply. It is time that they stand up to their reputation otherwise their failure will only increase the clamour for their heads and for that only they would be responsible. The odds are firmly stacked in the favour of the Indian batsmen .One gets the feeling that our bowlers will find it difficult to unravel their batting line up whereas their bowlers would certainly be able to achieve it.

Posted by Hotu on (October 10, 2008, 2:34 GMT)

Ricky Ponting's footwork and timing were in place, from the moment he arrived at the crease, and he looked good for a tall score immediately. Simon Katich played well for his 66. Hussey will be hard to dislodge, given his determination and concentration and with the likes of Watson, Haddin and White to follow, Australia still have a lot of batting left. Kumble's handling of his resources and field placings were substandard and gave away far too many easy runs. The pace duo of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma bowled with a lot of aggression and fire, and might have done better with more support in the field. The spinners were ordinary, without ever being threatening. India would have been better served if they had permitted Ganguly to lead the side in his last essay in tests. His kind of aggression has been absent, ever since he was bullied into submission by the Chappell conspiracy. India has a long way to go in this test. For India's sake, I hope the fab 4 bat sensibly and well.

Posted by Par on (October 10, 2008, 1:37 GMT)

You can see Indian pitches are turning to be the slowest and most unresponsive in world. Even Ponting could score a hundred here! Stop selling urself to 20-20 and ODIs, create some sporting tracks BCCI.

Posted by Peter on (October 10, 2008, 0:54 GMT)

Pretty even at the moment i'd say. I feel India are a bowler short. They need another pace bowler in their attack. Although Australia have a far poorer spin attack, White, Clarke and Katich can all play a role. And with 4 pace bowlers they can hopefully use Lee & Johnson in short sharp spells to keep them fresh.

Posted by Avinashi on (October 9, 2008, 23:29 GMT)

I think the reason why Ponting was able to score a century was because he came at 1 down whereas in the previous series he was comming at 4 down and more over today he came to bat in the first over of the first day of a test match where ball does not spin. If he scores a 100 say during the last two days when the ball really spins then we can say that ponting has come to terms in india till then there will be a question mark. As far as Indian bowling is concerned I think they did a good job to restrict AUS to a reasonable score which many teams have failed to do in the past.

Posted by Jordan on (October 9, 2008, 23:00 GMT)

Based purely on the scoreboard of 254/4 you could argue that India marginally had the better of day one, but if you take into account the details of the first days play, surely Australia are better off.... Ponting (who's struggles in India are well documented) was not troubled by Ishant or Harbhajan and he has scored a century at the first opportunity. Ponting's early success alone must be a huge boost to the Australians. The Indian bowling looked largely unthreatening and Kumble's reliance on rotating the same four bowlers (until using Sehwag late in the day) was uninspired as were his field placements. The Indian fielding looked ordinary at times as well. Australia would be disappointed at losing late wickets, but overall this has been a very promising start for them.

Posted by Arthur on (October 9, 2008, 22:32 GMT)

I believe the pitch is the thing that will have most bearing on the end result. The fact that Zaheer was causing most of the problems for the batsmen bodes very well for the four seamers in the Australian line-up versus only two in the Indian side. It could well be that all the talk of spin dominating this game has been jumping the gun. The mix of styles in the Australian pacemen will really test the slowing reactions of the older generation of Indian batsmen. In order for India to win this game, Kumble and Bhaji must really tighten up on their control. They were far too wayward on day one. Should Australian knock up another 150 runs in the first innings and the pitch continue to deliver uncertain bounce, India will have its work cut out.

Posted by Kar on (October 9, 2008, 22:05 GMT)

I think Australia is ahead, but only marginally. If Hussey gets out in the first hour tomorrow, then Aussies can be bundled out for around 350. Kumble came back alive in the last session and Zaheer/Ishant were good consistently. Tomorrow will be an interesting day.

Posted by Girik on (October 9, 2008, 21:28 GMT)

I think Ian has got it spot on when he says that India have their noses in front. Most of the other people commenting seem to forget that Australia no longer have a quality spinner in their stock to exploit the spin on Day 4 and 5. They also played unusually defensive today. This was the first time I've seen Australia in the modern ere scored at less than 3 an over on a relatively flat batting track.

Imagine how slow they will bat when the pitch becomes nasty during their 2nd innings and we haven't even seen their inexperienced middle order play yet!

Posted by ravikanth on (October 9, 2008, 21:15 GMT)

It is still too early to predict the course of the game. and the game will be totally depend how soon Indians can send hussey back if he stays in the middle for say about one hour after lunch he will take the game away from Indians.

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