Australia v India, 3rd Test, Melbourne, 4th day

A study in contrasts

Rahul Bhatia

December 29, 2003

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Rahul Dravid fell short of a personal landmark for the second time in the match, succumbing for 92, after his first-innings 49. The first knock was aggressive, coming when India needed to continue building on Virender Sehwag's 195. The second one was defensive, and came under more harrowing circumstances - a 192-run deficit needed to be erased on a pitch with inconsistent bounce.

A noticeable aspect of Dravid's innings was the waiting game he played. Of the 244 deliveries he faced, no fewer than 202 were dot balls. With the field up and the bowling tight, he waited for the right ball to put away for runs, which is why a high percentage of his runs came in boundaries: 56.5%. When the spinners came on, he negated the possibility of lbw decisions by coming forward and putting bat to ball. Out of Stuart MacGill's 67 deliveries to Dravid, 55 were played with the bat, while only 2 hit the pad.

Rahul Dravid to the spinners
Balls
79
Runs
34
Middled
65
Hit on pad
2
Beaten
2
Edged
1
Front foot
54
Back foot
25

A feature of Dravid's batting throughout the series has been his control over the bowling, and today was no different. He was decisive on both front and back foot, and the few deliveries he edged can be attributed more to good bowling, rather than to the batsman's indecision. The one bowler who troubled him was Nathan Bracken, who bowled an awkward line just outside off stump on a good length, tempting the batsman to play. Of the 150 balls Bracken bowled, only five were half-volleys, and just 45 runs were taken off his 25 overs.

Rahul Dravid in control
Overall % % Against Nathan Bracken
In control
86.9
81.2
Not in control
13.1
18.8

When Sourav Ganguly returned to the crease after retiring hurt earlier in the day, he started off watchfully, careful to not lose his wicket, but was tempted ever so often by Macgill and Simon Katich's floaters, as well as the fast bowlers' wide deliveries.

Both batsmen played steadily until India were past Australia's total, and then opened out to play their shots, particularly Ganguly. With the new ball taken at around the same time India took the lead, Ganguly took charge and played at nearly anything the bowlers bowled. Pulls were mixed with hair-raising swishes outside off stump. Lee was pulled to the boundary twice in an over, once convincingly, and the other time, not so. In all, 35 runs came off the 37 balls Lee bowled to Ganguly.

After Dravid's dismissal Ganguly quietened down, until he inner-edged Bracken on to his wicket. Still, it wasn't Bracken or Lee who had Ganguly in discomfort. That privilege went to Brad Williams, who hit Ganguly on the head in the morning, and bowled 13 balls to him, of which the batsman was in control for just seven.

A patchy half-century
% against all bowlers
% against Brad Williams
Not in control
27.2
46.1
In control
72.8
53.9

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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