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Ian Chappell: Australia being beaten at their own game

While MS Dhoni's captaincy and Ishant Sharma's bowling are spot on, Australia are being beaten at their own game (04:05)

October 20, 2008


India v Australia, 2nd Test, Mohali, 4th day

Ian Chappell: Australia being beaten at their own game

October 20, 2008

Ishant Sharma has definitely got the wood on Ricky Ponting at the moment and that can't be a bad thing for India © Getty Images

Ian Chappell: The Australians are in the process of being beaten at their own game.

Right from the start of this Test, India have been extremely aggressive. They continued that way on the fourth day when Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, which is a tremendous opening combination, went helter-skelter right from the start. India were able to add 130 runs in that first session, which was a terrific boost to their chances of winning the game. In a Test, the job of the batsmen is to score runs as quickly as possible to give the bowlers as long as possible to take 20 wickets. Gambhir and Sehwag did exactly that and they set India off on the right path.

Typical of the way he has performed as captain in this match, Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoted himself to bat at No. 3. He is a man who likes to lead from the front and he did it again. He hit three fours and one six in his 68 as India powered along to 314. I think he added a few extra runs, taking the target over 500, thinking not just about this match but what is to come. I think he was hoping to depress the Australian bowlers so much that it would have an after effect when they play the third and fourth Test later. That is not a bad ploy. He might be a young captain, but he is pretty smart when it comes to all the tactics of the game.

So India had placed themselves in a wonderful position to win the game by declaring at 314 for 3 and setting Australia 516 to win.

Mathew Hayden obviously came out with a plan to get on top of Zaheer Khan. He perhaps cast his mind back to the World Cup final in 2003 where Zaheer faltered under the onslaught from the Australian openers. Hayden tried to do the same thing again and it worked for a few overs: he certainly got Zaheer out of the attack. What he also did was to leave behind some of his adrenalin because, when Simon Katich came on strike, he hit fours in the most unKatich-like way. The Australians got away to a fast start; boundaries were flowing everywhere, and it looked as though they were getting on top of the Indian attack. But once again, Dhoni made a good move by bringing Harbhajan Singh into the attack. Those two wickets in one over changed the game completely.

Hayden attempted to sweep because he was looking to get on top of Harbhajan when he first came on to bowl; but he missed it and was adjudged lbw. Then Katich played a rather wild drive outside off stump to get out. Sachin Tendulkar, who took a very good diving catch at point, reacted like a young Tendulkar. He behaved like an 18-19 year old Tendulkar and that just showed you how much into this game the Indians were.

After tea, Harbhajan got a third wicket very quickly when he got rid of the dangerous Michael Hussey. The Australians were reeling at that stage. Then, just to put the icing on the cake, Ishant Sharma bowled a couple of magnificent deliveries. The one that bowled Ricky Ponting - it came back off the seam and knocked the stumps flat. Ponting first looked around at the stumps and then he looked at the pitch as though he couldn't believe it was happening to him once again. Ishant has definitely got the wood on Ponting at the moment and that can't be a bad thing for India. He then got rid of Shane Watson.

There was a bit of rearguard action from Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke and both became more aggressive as their innings went along. However, at 141 for 5, the Australians are a long way behind.

As I said earlier, they are in the process of being beaten at their own game.

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