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Ian Chappell: Draw the only viable option for Australia
Superb batting powered India to a massive total and Australia have to bat out of their skins to draw this match (04:05)
October 30, 2008
India v Australia, 3rd Test, Feroz Shah Kotla, 2nd day
Ian Chappell: Draw the only viable option for AustraliaOctober 30, 2008
It was double trouble at the Feroz Shah Kotla for Australia. Gautam Gambhir became the first left-hand opener to score a double-century against Australia, quite an amazing stat when you think of all the good left-hand openers that have played Test cricket. And then it was VVS Laxman; he has always been a thorn for Australian side and you can tell that from the fact that this was the fourth time he has been involved in a double-century partnership against Australia - that's more than anybody else has ever done. He went on to score his second double-century in Test cricket, both of those coming against Australia.
So it was Gambhir and Laxman who came together and accelerated the scoring-rate at just the perfect moment for India. Their brilliant batting and their tremendous partnership took them to a position of great strength. Even though the pitch was playing extremely well when they were batting and the Australian attack is pretty limited and lacking in variety, you got the feeling that it might be a bit tougher for Australia when their turn came.
Eventually it came after Anil Kumble had scored quickly himself. Zaheer Khan had put together five boundaries in scoring 28 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni played in his normal aggressive fashion. India had 613 on the board before Kumble put the Australians out of their misery.
There was a wicket for Brett Lee; he is really down on form and on confidence at the moment. Mitchell Johnson got three wickets: he has been the best wicket taker for Australia, but even he has got a problem with the position of his wrist and he is not getting the old ball to swing at all. Shane Watson, I thought, has showed a lot of improvement at a Test match bowler in this match. He produced one very good spell where he got a couple of wickets; he got rid of Gambhir and his bowling confidence has gone up in this match, which is good news for Australia. Ricky Ponting was forced to use Simon Katich but when he did use him he got a wicket and he certainly looked the most threatening of Australia's slower bowlers.
When the Australians came out to bat, it seemed as though a day and three-quarters in the field had done Matthew Hayden a world of good. While he came out in Mohali in the second innings all aggression and looking to dominate the opposition bowling, this time he came out in much more sedate mode and I thought he played very well. He gave the Indian fast bowlers full face of the bat and he looked pretty confident. Simon Katich started slowly but then when the spinners came on, he went after them and there was a spate of boundaries which took him to 29.
When Kumble came into the attack he got one delivery in particular to bite and spite. It spun a long way and it jumped, and that is the hint his shoulder is in much better shape than it was in Bangalore, which is bad news for Australia. The other thing that is bad news for Australia is that it looks to me, particularly the slower bowlers but even later in the game the quicker bowlers, are going to be hard to drive, and that is going to be danger shot for Australia. They've got to be very cautious of which delivery they drive and which delivery they don't and they are going to have a lot of questions asked by Amit Mishra with his flight.
So, sure Australia survived and it was a good period for them picking up 50 tonight. But I think they have got a lot of long, hard toil ahead of them if they are going to draw this match, which is now the only viable option left for Australia.
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