Australia v India, 3rd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day

The perils of spongy bounce

Rahul Bhatia

December 27, 2003

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The pitch was expected to assist the bowlers on the first day, and then become a good batting wicket on days two and three, before helping the bowlers for the rest of the game. Contrary to expectations, the wicket held firm on the first day and for most part of the second, but gave away signs of the shape of things to come. The bounce was uneven and the batsmen had a few close shaves while going for their strokes.

Ricky Ponting nearly gloved the ball on more than one occasion as it hurried on him, and at other times found attempted pull shots not going where he intended, because the ball arrived slower than he expected. Matthew Hayden scored a century as well, but not before surviving close lbw shouts while sweeping Kumble, again flummoxed by the spongy bounce. Although Australia played only 75 overs to India's 90, they still mistimed more balls, were beaten more often, and overall were not in control a lot more often.

Indian batsmen - Day 1
(balls)

Australian batsmen - Day 2
(balls)

Mistimed

7

8

Edge

19

23

Beaten the bat

16

17

Not in control

71 (546)

87 (459)

Legbreak or googly?

Anil Kumble bowled as many googlies as he bowled legbreaks. A further breakdown reveals that he bowled as many legbreaks to the right-handers, as he did googlies to the lefties. Sure, conceding 102 runs in 24 overs didn't reflect well, but Kumble kept the batsmen guessing. This is reflected in the high not-in-control percentage, compared to the relative ease with which the Australian batsmen played the other bowlers.

Delivery

Right-hand batsmen
(balls)

Left-hand batsmen
(balls)

Legbreaks

45

28

Googlies

28

45

Australian batsmen against Indian bowlers

Kumble

Other Indian bowlers

Balls not in control

34 (23.2% of total balls bowled)

53 (17.7% of total balls bowled)

The terror every three and a half games

Ricky Ponting, who remained unbeaten on 120, scored his 20th century in 74 Tests. That's about one in every three and a half games. But since October 2002, Ponting has had an amazing run, scoring over 2000 runs in just 15 months, including ten centuries. Even at a time when a number of batsmen are scoring prolifically, Ponting stands out with his consistency, and sheer volume of runs.

Batsmen since October 2002

Batsmen

Tests

Innings

Runs

100's

Average

Ricky Ponting

19

27

2076

10

86.5

Matthew Hayden

19

30

1984

9

73.5

Rahul Dravid

10

18

990

3

70.71

Graeme Smith

17

26

1539

5

61.56

Michael Vaughan

17

32

1408

5

45.41

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