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India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 3rd day
Chappell: Australia missed a frontline spinner
October 11, 2008
Mitchell Johnson splits India's batting wide open, but their lower order saves the day
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"Not only can Mitchell Johnson bowl fast throughout the day, he can also bowl some long, penetrative spells which makes him a captain's dream" © Getty Images

Ian Chappell: The Indians have escaped from a very big hole. The Australians started the second day very well. Ricky Ponting was very proactive with his field placings and he was backed by some very aggressive fast bowling, particularly from Mitchell Johnson.

In his younger days, Johnson was very good on wickets that were a bit green, that had some pace and bounce, but he really struggled on flatter pitches. But he has certainly learnt how to get wickets on the slower pitches when things aren't in favour of the fast bowlers. He probably has learnt from his experiences on the low, slow pitches in the Caribbean when Australia went to the West Indies earlier this year. So that is the big improvement he has made. The other thing that makes him a captain's dream is that he maintains his pace. He will be bowling at the same pace late in the afternoon that he was bowling at in the morning. And captains love that. He has got a nice action and it doesn't seem to take a lot out of him; so not only can he bowl fast throughout the day but he can also bowl some long, penetrative spells.

It was Brett Lee who got the first wicket of Gautam Gambhir but it was Johnson getting rid of Virender Sehwag that was the big blow for India. Sehwag is a dangerous player and because he scores so quickly, he can take the game away from the bowling side and also make it easier for his partner down at the other end.

That left the way open for Rahul Dravid. He started confidently, especially with the first boundary that he hit off Lee. He looked much more confident than he looked on the recent tour of Australia. Sachin Tendulkar, probably suffering from not having played too much cricket of late, looked a little bit out of sorts. He completely failed to pick a change of pace from Johnson and was out to a rather strange shot. VVS Laxman also looked a bit out of sorts: his feet weren't moving and that shows that he hasn't had enough match practice.

Dravid, after starting confidently, seemed to get a bit bogged down. But almost as though he realised that was happening to him, he became aggressive again, not necessarily in the way of hitting fours, but pushing the ball in the gaps and running. There was definitely an improvement in the running between the wickets from the Indians. It was a bit hairy on a couple of occasions - Tendulkar would have been run out at one stage with a direct hit.

The Australians seemed to be well and truly on top until Dravid and Sourav Ganguly got together. They went pretty well until Dravid was dismissed. I thought he was a bit unlucky to be given out lbw. That is the sort of decision that is given out a lot these days, but if you go back to the 1960s and 70s, umpires rarely gave the batsmen out in similar situations. I think that's why Dravid looked a little bemused - he felt that the benefit of the doubt could have gone to him.

India were looking in big trouble when both Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were dismissed. It looked as though they were going to be facing a huge deficit. But then came Harbhajan Singh. He is an extremely competitive cricketer and I thought that although he bowled without a lot of confidence, he certainly batted with a lot of confidence. He likes playing against the Australians. This was his third successive half-century in as many Tests against the Australians and I think it was the best of them. He looked really confident and it seemed he was playing on a totally different pitch - he didn't seem to have the problems that some of his other team-mates had. He got good support from Zaheer Khan. While Ponting's tactics were very proactive and aggressive earlier on the day, he was on the defensive a little bit when this partnership was on.

Australia also suffered from not having a frontline spinner. As the faster bowlers tired, the variety in their attack was missing. If Michael Clarke has to bowl a lot, I don't think it is going to help his bowling too much. He is a short-spell man to get wickets and Cameron White looked like he really struggled.

So the Indians have got right back into the game. They have now given themselves a chance to draw this Test. Johnson had split the Indian batting wide open and it looked as though he had set it up for an Australian victory. But now, with the deficit reduced and also some time eaten up by the lower order, India can now look at getting out of this match with a draw. If they can walk away from Bangalore without conceding a lead [in the series], they will be very happy with the situation.

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

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Posted by Amandeep on (October 12, 2008, 10:47 GMT)

Well said matkammanga. I completely agree. :)

Posted by Manoor on (October 12, 2008, 3:38 GMT)

Yesterday, Ian Chappell commented that Kumble's captaincy is ordinary. What he would say for Ponting? He should have used his experience as captain to get out India within 200? Totally biased criticism. Ponting has more experience and brain as captain than Kumble. How do Ian Chappell describe this? He should not comment on lack of spin bowling with Australia...they had selected their best option for the game.. Silly and too ordinary analysis by Ian Chappell.

Posted by Ilin on (October 12, 2008, 3:24 GMT)

PUP the destroyer,is the main threat for india,in 4th innings.since the mumbai test,in 2004,he is main nemesis of india,in both department,i.e.batting and bowling.i think punter should try for few balls.india surrenders easily against part time bowlers,in comparision to frontline bowlers.But truly,my money is on pup.he is the biggest threat for india,(tendulkar especially,as pup is a left arm spinner).

Posted by Tobias on (October 11, 2008, 20:47 GMT)

Absolutely. I think it had to be Shane Watson or Cameron White but not both. Maybe White in the all-rounder number 6 position temporarily while Symonds is gone but Watson, Johnson, Lee and Clark are all fast bowlers and you need a spinner, ESPECIALLY on an Indian pitch in the coniditions in India. There is a reason India picked two spinners in Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

White is not the answer to who should be Australias next spin bowler. Personally I think Beau Casson or Dan Cullen should be in there with their off breaks.

Poor bowling on Australias part last night when, after a great opportunity getting Gambhir, Sehwag, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid and Dhoni but they've let Harbhajan and Sourav Ganguly get back into it and it will be an interesting two days.

Posted by PRIYANTHA on (October 11, 2008, 17:49 GMT)

The senior Indian players are hanging in the team just to prolong their careers or to caheive certain milestones. We know how Kapli Dev hung in there just to beat Richard Hadlee's record. Why can't the selectors drop any "Fab Four" when they are not performing? Dropping should not be end of the world. If they perform well and maintain good form they can always come back. Sanath Jayasuriya has been axed few times but he has always bounced back. The so called "Fab Four" should be to totally responsible for defaet in Sri Lanka series. How can you win matches when the top order is under performing? Kumble should also gracefully step down from captaincy and make himself available as a player to pick. The match itself may have more twists and turns, provided there are no rain interruptions in remaing two days.

Posted by Abhinav on (October 11, 2008, 16:09 GMT)

Exactly.. Now India are out of this hole,but having said that.. I don't think they are completely out of it because If Aussies get early wickets tommorow,then Aussies will have a lead of around 100 and that's a huge lead.. Aussies can easily get a score of 250-300 in their 2nd innings.. And a target of 350-400 is tough on this pitch.. and this could be a repeat of d sydney match where it looked that India will draw,but Indians falled like nine pins on the last day[Thanx tp ummpires as well].. So As of now,India need to somehow survive d 1st session,score 50-60 runs if they can[Kumble and Zaheer Can bat].. If they do that.. Indians can feel a bit safe.. !

Posted by AJAY on (October 11, 2008, 15:15 GMT)

well ..i completely agree with what chappell had jus said bt i guess still all 3 results are quite possible .THe chances of australia winning is quite large as compare to india bt never underestimated any1 in cricket.i hope india can restrict aussies to low total in second innings and if they have to chase anything around 250-275.. we still have match in our wud be a remarkable victory if india wins frm dis position.

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