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India v Australia, 3rd Test, Delhi, 3rd day
Ian Chappell: Good day of fighting Test cricket
October 31, 2008
Australia will be pleased with their batting effort and it was a terrific day of fighting Test cricket
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Virender Sehwag got rid of Michael Hussey with the second new ball © AFP

It was a terrific day of fighting Test match cricket and the Australians, with their backs to the wall, batted extremely well.

Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich kept going from where they left last night and despite some very good bowling they were able to survive early on. Hayden really had his mindset just right for this innings; where in Mohali he went berserk and was over-aggressive, on this occasion he had the tempo just right. I thought he gave the bowlers full face of the bat, but he still, when an opportunity came along to score, was able to pick off the boundaries.

Katich is a dogged batsmen, he makes the most of his ability and in the end he was beaten by a well-flighted delivery from Amit Mishra. He was perhaps a bit ambitious trying to hit it through the on side and was beaten in flight and that was the first breakthrough for India.

But there were to be no quick breakthroughs on this occasion because of the doggedness of the Australians. Ricky Ponting is the best equipped of the Australians to play the long, grinding innings that was required to save this game and he found a good ally in Hayden and they went along very nicely. Until Virender Sehwag - called into the attack to bowl a bit more than he would have normally because of the injury to Anil Kumble - produced a beauty. The first of the three beauties to get rid of Hayden; obviously Sehwag doesn't trust his fielders. He had Hayden lbw and then bowled Ponting with an absolute beauty. The perfect delivery for an offspinner and the big smile came on Sehwag's face when he curved it away, opened up the gap and spun the ball right back through and knocked the stumps down.

Still, the Australians weren't to be daunted. Michael Hussey came to the crease and played with all his usual assurance; occasionally picking the ball off through the offside and occasionally (getting) quickly on the back foot to pull the ball. Some balls were turning quite sharply, particularly from Mishra and every now and again Sehwag would produce a beauty. Then, just to add to Australia's problems the fast bowlers suddenly found a bit of swing with the old ball: Ishant Sharma bowled a terrific spell to Ricky Ponting, and Zaheer Khan swinging the ball back and then occasionally moving one away was trouble. So there was never any peace for the batsmen, but they fought hard.

Hussey also got to the half-century and right at a crucial moment for India, Sehwag decided - and it looked as though it might have been at the insistence of Sachin Tendulkar - he went over the wicket and produced another brilliant delivery, pitching on leg and knocking offstump [of Hussey] to the ground. So an lbw and two bowleds for Sehwag and he certainly was the star of the show for India.

Right down to the last over there was drama with even the final ball, Michael Clarke surviving when he just got an inside-edge to a well pitched wrong 'un from Mishra. Mishra bowled well, he had lot of bowling to do, he looked as though he was tired before Dhoni produced a masterstroke, taking the second new ball and then using Sehwag with it.

Once Sehwag got rid of Hussey, he [Dhoni] brought Mishra back into the attack, and bowling with the newer ball seemed to spark Mishra and he produced some really good deliveries. He nearly had Michael Clarke lbw as I mentioned, he nearly had Shane Watson lbw, but they couldn't just get the extra breakthrough.

It will be another tough day for the Australians, it's still spinning quite a bit and if they were to lose an early wicket then it would put the lower order under real pressure to survive the follow-on mark. But the Australians will be at least pleased that they put in a very good day's fighting Test match cricket.

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

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Posted by Mansoor on (November 1, 2008, 4:24 GMT)

For Raghav249

Sporting pitches? You mean like the ones in Australia, so that Australia can win at home and away. This shows the inability of the Australian to play on spinning tracks. Who said Indian pitches are not sporting. Look at the Ishant and Zaheer. They are bowling on the same pitch as the Australian bowlers. You need intelligence and confidence man, which the Australians are lacking. See the way Ishant bowled yesterday and the way Zaheer swung yesterday. Don't just talk out of your head. Either you do not know how the test matches are played or you are not an Indian. I am enjoying the test match. It is one of the best test matches.

Posted by Nathan on (November 1, 2008, 4:22 GMT)

I don't know how people can continually make comments like 'Australia ... produce the type of wickets to suit their bowlers' as made by Subra. Australia has all different types of wickets ... Perth for the fast bowlers (or it used to be anyway), Brisbane for the seamers, SCG for spinners, and Adelaide and Melbourne for a bit of everything. How can all the pitches in Australia be made for Australia's advantage when they are all different?! Unlike India where pitches are clearly doctored to suit the home team. Let's not forget, Australia had one of the best spinners the world has ever seen over the last 15 years, but I don't remember Australian curators producing (or being pressured to produce ...) spinning tracks, except the SCG which suited spinners well before Warnie came along. Let's be realistic please!

Posted by Ausram on (November 1, 2008, 1:54 GMT)

Ian, I thoroughly enjoyed the game today. The match is at its best on the third day. Australia showed good resiliance in batting. As the way it looks, the game is turning to be a draw. However, Australia will be under enormous pressure to draw this game and to win the next game to retain the trophy. Lack of variety in the bowling department for Australia is clearly evident in this test match. India is once again showing the toughness in batting and bowling. Great knocks from Gambier, Laxman and of course from genius Sachin with master class and authority. Disappointing crowd once again. If India could not get a decent crowd for test matches, I wonder how test cricket will attract crowd from other countries. Hope test cricket survives for some more years inspite of the pressure from pyjama games. Your thoughts on this Ian?

Posted by Tobias on (November 1, 2008, 1:23 GMT)

Simon Katich and Matthew Hayden both batted well, note that all of Australias dismissed batsmen so far have made 50s but none of them have quite made the 100 line which they need to follow up on Gautam Gambhir and V.V.S. Laxmans great innings.

I don't like the idea there being no real battig below Michael Clarke... big worry for Australia...

Posted by Rajasundram on (October 31, 2008, 22:45 GMT)

I fail to see the connection between the richness of the BCCI (which it uses to intimidate other countries - e.g. Remove Ranatunga or no money to SLC) and the quality of pitches.

Perhaps the BCCI is deliberately producing the kind of wickets to ensure that it wins at home. Just imagine if they prepare the kind of wickets like those in Australia/South Africa - then India may lose at home too!

It is good that there are a variety of pitches as we move from country to country - because it will sort out the players.

Imagine a tennis circuit where all the surfaces are the same. But the grass at Wimbledon the clay courts in Paris makes it important that anyone going for a grand slam must be a master of all types of surfaces.

Likewise I don't see why India should not produce wickets to suit spinners. Australia and South Africa produce the type of wickets to suit their bowlers - so why not India.

Let's stop criticising and watch a fascinating duel!

Siva from Singapore

Posted by mahesh on (October 31, 2008, 21:54 GMT)

This is a perfect pitch for a test match, if you play with a descipline you can easily survive as a batsman, and if you have variety in your bowling you can extract a lot of purchase from the wicket. So there is a little bit for every one. One has to give it to the Aus batsman for playing so well... Kumble should be disappointed with his efforts, whether its the injury or the mental thing he looks just out of sorts.. as tushar said he is just being stubborn, its time for him to leave, we dont want to remember as the struggling bowler, people want to know his as the match winner... Lets hope he will walk out with grace before the Nagpur test and let the youngsters take over...

Posted by Peter on (October 31, 2008, 21:45 GMT)

This was a compelling and absorbing day's cricket. The Indian bowlers posed a constant threat, and a hard working Aussie top four did well to get their side into a good position to save the game. Tomorrow should be just as enthralling, and Clarke and Watson will be severely tested on a deteriorating wicket. This is what Test cricket is all about, and it's a timely antedote to that embarrassing freak show going on in Antigua.

Posted by Andrew on (October 31, 2008, 20:00 GMT)

I must say Dhoni at its best. As he tossed a new ball to Sehwag and that bring results. All praise for Dhoni -A very interlligent cricket mind.... Hats off to Dhoni

Posted by Gurunath on (October 31, 2008, 19:29 GMT)

Yes, a wonderful day of cricket, with both sides trying their best. No wicket fell cheaply nor was scoring easy. Credit goes to both teams on such days. This is what test cricket is all about - about skills you need to survive and temparement you need to go about the game. Well as fellow commenters have noted, raghav249 seems not to understand test cricket. What did you want Raghav? Big shots and ball bouncing? Every country has its own flavour and all included form the vast and varied cuisne of international circket. Or do you just enjoy the fast food? Perhaps you should be watching Stanford's matches :D, just kidding man, but you did make a hasty comment there.

Posted by Kun on (October 31, 2008, 18:39 GMT)

Kumble has been a great servant of Indian Cricket,and he has played a tremendous job in Indian team's victory at home and away. but no one can play for India forever. He is not able to inspire the team with his bowling now. There is stark contrast in the body language of the team which was led by Dhoni in the last test and that is led by Kumble. It is high time Kumble says good bye gracefully than beng criticized and dropped.

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