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India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 4th day
Ian Chappell: Watson-Haddin stand crucial
October 12, 2008
An absorbing day of cricket with the pendulum swinging but the Watson-Haddin counterattack gives Australia the edge
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'Virender Sehwag and the fact that Australia don't have a frontline spinner will feature heavily in the declaration equation for Ricky Ponting' © Getty Images

Ian Chappell: It was an absorbing day four in Bangalore, with both teams at different times looking like they were climbing to a position of ascendancy only to have the pendulum swing back the other way. The late heroics from the Indian lower order really opened the game up. At one stage it looked like Australia were going to win and win easily but a terrific fightback from the Indian lower order set the scene for the last couple of days of this Test to be quite combative. And that's the way it has appeared.

India came on to the field in the second innings without Anil Kumble - he apparently has a shoulder injury and it really does look like he has been struggling with his bowling throughout this Test. But it was a different Indian team that played under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He was very thoughtful and resourceful with his field placings and I thought that the Indian side were galvanised by his leadership. Zaheer Khan got really involved in the field placings and I thought that he bowled marvellously well with a lot of energy. Harbhajan Singh looked like a different offspinner: he came round the wicket to the left-handers while in the first innings he was bowling over the wicket and he looked like taking wickets on a fairly regular basis. In fact he should have had Simon Katich - the Indian fielders who are used to fielding close in for the spinners should have taken that catch. In this case it was Gautam Gambhir who made a mess of the chance.

But it was a real battle for the Australian batsmen. Matthew Hayden probably got a slightly dubious decision; he hasn't had a great game as far as scoring runs is concerned. Katich battled hard; I think he decided to play the sheet-anchor role. Even Ricky Ponting had to battle for his runs with Dhoni placing some really good fields to him and that paid off in the end. He had Ponting chipping to short-midwicket and it was a good catch taken by VVS Laxman. Both Zaheer and Ishant Sharma bowled exceedingly well under the conditions and that is one thing that will give the Australians some heart on the fifth day - that there is still something out there for the faster bowlers.

When Harbhajan produced that absolute gem to get rid of Michael Hussey, it looked like India were giving themselves an outside chance of coming back to win the game. But what followed was a brave partnership from Shane Watson and Brad Haddin. They are two young guys who are still trying to make their way in this Australian side and they bravely counterattacked under difficult conditions. Their partnership right at the end swung the pendulum back to Australia.

Australia are now leading by just over 260 and it will be interesting to see what Ponting does with his declaration. I suspect the name Virender Sehwag will feature very heavily in the equation - the danger that he might play a blinder - and what will also feature in the equation is the fact that he doesn't have a frontline spinner. That will have an effect on when he decides to declare. Since he is relying so heavily on his fast bowlers, I think Ponting would like to leave enough overs so that he at least has a couple with the second new ball. So perhaps look for him to give India about 84 overs to bat but that is only if Sehwag's name doesn't feature too heavily in the equation. It's been a pretty enthralling game so far and I expect we are going to see a few more twists and turns before the fifth day is over.

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

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Posted by A on (October 13, 2008, 3:41 GMT)

Here's my prediction: Aussies give India a target of 350 after batting out first hour. Then on, it'll be a torture for Indian fans as India struggle to survive. They'll survive upto tea with 5 down and a total of a 100 odd thereby eliminating the chances of an Indian win. Post tea, they'll suddenly manage to lose 5 wickets and give victory to the Aussies who'll celebrate it like there's no tomorrow.

Early dismissals for most of the top order and very hard fought 50s for Ganguly and Laxman - and no resistence from the tail. This has been the story of Indian cricket in the recent past and since the team is pretty much the same, the story has to repeat again.

I simply hope though that my prediction does not come true and Indians show some spine like that wonderful day in Calcutta a few years ago.

But I'm still a die hard Indian fan so I say - You Go India - teach them self obsessed Aussies a lesson. Remember - win it first in your minds. Then you just execute it on the ground.

Posted by Parth on (October 12, 2008, 23:26 GMT)

Sehwag can be a match twister but India's middle order will decide the fate. From australia's side i think Clarke will once again come out with his surprise spins. Its going to be great action tommorrow. Enjoy.

Posted by Tobias on (October 12, 2008, 18:31 GMT)

Yes I do agree on the whole Dhon captaincy thing I've said several times on Ian Chappells forums that Anil Kumble cannot set fields well and that Mahendra Dhoni is a much better captaincy candidate.

Some brave batting from Brad Haddin and Shane Watson after a super effort by Zaheer Khan and also a little assistance from Ishant Sharma. Harbhajan bowled a lot better and Australia are missing having a Shane Warne or Brad Hogg to bowl some spin and make the Indians work for their runs.

What a great game this is and expect an exciting finish on what will be a roller-coaster Day 5.

Posted by Samir on (October 12, 2008, 17:35 GMT)

Ian Chappell is absolutely right, but the problem is with the consistency of india's batsmen. the only person indians can truly trust is rahul dravid who still doesn't look confident enough. virendra sehwag is kind of batsman who can turn the game into india's favour but his batting stratagy is always unreliable. if he goes on scoring, he is unstoppable, but the way he threw his wicket off in previous inning, that makes me think how much we can look forward to him specially when the surface is unpredictable with uneven bounce. it all depends on how australian bowlers bowl. hope indians don't make too many mistakes.

Posted by Moses on (October 12, 2008, 17:33 GMT)

India gave themselves a slight chance to win the match with Australia at 128/5, but htey blew it with Harbhajan bowling a lege stump line, to a 6-3 onside field. Instead he should have bowled into the rough outside the off stump and enticed the batsmen to drive. That would have made things a lot more difficult for Haddin, Watson and the rest. The Aussies would've probably been all out, leaving India with less than 250 to chase on the last day. I was watching from the stands, and was appalled at the ridiculous, unimaginative and uninspiring captaincy of Anil Kumble. Shoulder injury or whatever, it's time for him to leave the reins to a much more aggressive and intelligent captain - MS Dhoni.

Posted by Mahesh on (October 12, 2008, 16:18 GMT)

I may be totally off track here, but is Anil Kumble a better player than he is a captain? I really admire his grit and his game but it somehow seems that the team performed better under M.S.Dhoni. Like I said, I may be totally off track here and all the plans could have been laid out previously and Anil Kumble may have remote controlled the game, but still, as they all say, it is out in the middle that you actually take decisions. No matter what Mr. Geoffrey Boycott has to say, I think the selectors need to promote Dhoni to Captain of the test team too, but after this series. To me, though, Anil Kumble will always remain a great player.

Posted by Ilin on (October 12, 2008, 16:00 GMT)

Ponting did a blunder.he should have declare 20 minutes before this step of his,not only give india a chance for a draw,but also give them to come back fresh and healthy in the morning.pitch becomes chappel said,there will be some twist in the tale,surely as you see still,there is some life for batting,on the pitch.There will be some purchase for spinners too.but not for pacers.Michael clark will play the main key role for australia,and similar role,laxman-ganguly will play for india,on the last day.iam crossfingered for the result,but we are going towards a draw.good luck to both teams.

Posted by Ravish on (October 12, 2008, 15:26 GMT)

I think the match is more in favor of Aussies at this moment. They should not wait too long before they declare because they might not leave enough overs for themselves to get 10 wickets. India's record in chasing scores in 4th innings is very poor and one should not discount that fact. You are right in that Sehwag is the danger man. The rest of India's batsman - mostly fab four - will be more looking to save the match than go for the win and history proves that other than on one or two occasions they were not successful in saving either. I would say that if they get Sehwag before lunch or shortly after, they have for the most part either sealed a win or at worst a draw. India has to absovle themselves of the fab five if they want to be a positive thinking team going for a win rather than always being scared to loose.

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