India v Australia, 1st Test, Mohali, 3rd day October 3, 2010

Tenacious Australia level game

ESPNcricinfo staff
Cricketers in baggy green reputedly "don't give you an inch", and late on the third afternoon, they proved that with a rousing comeback
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This is no vintage Australian side, certainly not one you'd compare favourably to that which won in India in 2004. The character of the team hasn't changed though. On the eve of the series, VVS Laxman - who's enjoyed plenty of success against Australia, both individual and collective - had said that cricketers in baggy green "don't give you an inch", and late on the third afternoon, they proved him right with a rousing comeback.

At 354 for 4, with Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina seemingly on course for centuries, India would have envisaged batting till tea on the fourth day and then applying the squeeze. Instead, they lost six for 51 in 12.4 overs, yielding Australia a 23-run advantage. Till the final hour, Australia's day of toil had only realised the wickets of Rahul Dravid and Ishant Sharma, the nightwatchman.

It wasn't for lack of effort. Starting with a beautiful outswinger from Ben Hilfenhaus that induced an edge past the slips from Dravid, Australia created several chances. But with edges falling short, a stumping missed by Tim Paine and catches going down, it was a day of frustration until Tendulkar came down the pitch to play Marcus North against the line and missed the ball.

"As a bowling unit, we stuck to our task the whole day," said Mitchell Johnson, whose 5 for 64 was the eye-catching performance of the day. "Dougie [Bollinger] bowled pretty well. [Nathan] Hauritz was out of luck. Else, he would have got a few more wickets."

Hauritz's first 21 overs went for 80, and there was never any possibility of him tying up one end as Pragyan Ojha had on the opening day. But while he didn't turn the ball dramatically, there was lovely drift that induced more than one miscue from Raina in particular. "It was just that in the last hour, things came together for us," said Johnson. "After tea, we just stuck to our plans and remained positive."

Back in 2008, Australia struggled to match India in the reverse-swing stakes. There was much greater parity today though, with Bollinger and Johnson making excellent use of the old ball. Bollinger made the crucial incision, dismissing Dravid, and Johnson then shut down the tail with deliveries that slanted across.

"We did talk about reverse swing in our team meetings and how the Indian players counter it," said Johnson. "We kept the ball really well, and it worked for us."

For Johnson, whose 14 wickets on the previous tour came at quite a cost, this was an especially important day, after the 47-run cameo with the bat. He isn't unduly bothered about whether he's classed as an allrounder or not, but he was conscious of the fact that he had talked himself up in the pre-series build-up.

Before flying to India, Johnson had talked to Glenn McGrath. McGrath thought nothing of putting pressure on himself by targetting the opposition's most important batsmen. In true Pigeon fashion, Johnson targetted Virender Sehwag, speaking of how Australia would attack him with the short ball. After Sehwag breezed to a 38-ball 50, it was indeed a short-pitched delivery from Johnson that got him, looping one to cover off the leading edge.

What Johnson and his mates have done is open up the possibility of all three results. India's spinners are likely to get much more encouragement from the pitch tomorrow than they did in the first innings, and Johnson admitted that there was still much to be done if Australia are to reverse the result of the last tour.

"We would have to bat the whole day tomorrow and hope the wicket breaks up completely when we come to bowl," he said. "It is going to be difficult to bat on this wicket. But we have some quality batsmen in our side and hopefully, they won't let the Indian spinners settle down."

Australia will take much encouragement from the Johnson-inspired late show on the third day, but the match remains in the balance. Back in 2006, a combination of reverse swing [Munaf Patel] and spin [Anil Kumble] decimated England after the two sides had finished pretty much level on first innings. But with Harbhajan Singh limping and Ishant Sharma so listless, Australia will be quietly confident that they can avoid such a fate.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on October 4, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    @Michael Dickson - no worries mate.

  • on October 4, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    @Meety, I don't mean to bag Hauritz, he isn't a bad bowler by any means, it's just I am indifferent to him right now. Swann has impressed me because he has taken wickets with really good deliveries, none more so than the way he got Clarke in the Ashes last year, I thought that was superb. I actually liked the honesty Hauritz showed last year when he admitted Australia would have done the same thing in the situation where the 12th man brought out extra gloves to Anderson or whoever it was. As a Kiwi, who is admittedly blinded by the mutual bias some of us share with the Aussies from time to time, that moment from Hauritz allowed me to finally start appreciating the Australian players. As far as who I'd like to see in the next test though, I'd have loved to have seen Siddle play. I reckon as far as Australian bowlers go, regardless of stats, he's awesome. Complete workhorse, just goes and goes and goes. Sid Vicious is a very fitting nickname.

  • Hutchinson on October 4, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    India was hurt by the absence of VVS Laxman in middle order...also Dhoni should have looked to bat till stumps with Raina ,so that Laxman can take rest & Bat next day but he made a mess of it.Now After India dominating majorly on Day 3,the match is even but i don't think that Aussies will declare with a lead of 350

  • Sultan. on October 4, 2010, 2:23 GMT

    Indian readers are unbelievable on this blog. I've never seen so many whingers complaining about every little thing that their team didnt do 100% perfect. Heres the reason why: NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Aussies didnt allow them to dominate late in the day. I can't imagine what its going to be like when you lose all your granpas from that batting line up in the next 12 months.

  • anandby on October 4, 2010, 2:03 GMT

    Bajji was effective because Kumble used to put pressure from the other end. so without Kumle ot the other end Bajji is ineffective. I think Dhoni loves Ishant because failure after failure he is in the team which has no logic. Very rarely Aus have let down so many chances and still got the lead - can't imagine what would have happened if they had take all the chances which I am sure they will not repeat in the 4th innings. They need to get 250 plus and then India will put pressure on themselves and loose the match.

  • andrew-schulz on October 4, 2010, 2:00 GMT

    Swann has picked up a stack of wickets in the last year, no doubt about it, but mainly against weak opposition. Correspondents might need to be reminded that Hauritz was twice the bowler Swann was in the three Tests they played head-to-head in the Ashes last year in Swann's home conditions. Expect them both to play vital roles in the coming months, with Hauritz having the advantage of going forward in a vastly superior side. (Those who scoff at that would be the same who scoffed four years ago. Watch and learn this time).

  • Timbo2010 on October 4, 2010, 1:54 GMT

    Raina used up a lot of luck yesterday. He will never get away with another stumping chance like the one he offered Paine and a couple of cross-batted slogs were top edged just short of fielders. When luck deserts him, they will be swallowed. Nevertheless he showed good intent and hits well through the offside. It will be interesting to see how he plays when the balls bounces higher than the stumps.

  • Mahesh_Eswar on October 4, 2010, 1:40 GMT

    Swann is good but not great. I saw his bowling in the last few months and extracts huge turn in England pitches. I am waiting for him to play test against India and SL. That will be a true reflection of his quality. In my opinion he is currently the best emerging test spinner with high rate of success (i believe in data). Hauritz is pretty young and will learn over few years. I saw him flighting the ball well and slowing the pace; both of them good qualities for a spinner.What he lacks is variety. I also felt that Ponting did not provide him with ample support in this test. For a bowler like him I would have a forward short leg, silly point, slip and a leg slip. Especially with 425+ on board, Ponting could have given him aggressive fielding.

  • chad_reid on October 4, 2010, 1:32 GMT

    GO AUSSIE GO WELL DONE MITCH EXCELLENT BOWLING

  • MinusZero on October 3, 2010, 23:30 GMT

    Ishant has great potential with his height being an advantage, but i think he needs some more coaching. He is leaking far to many runs. At 22 years of age, he has many years to develop and in the future could definitely be the fast bowling option that India needs and world number 1.

  • Meety on October 4, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    @Michael Dickson - no worries mate.

  • on October 4, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    @Meety, I don't mean to bag Hauritz, he isn't a bad bowler by any means, it's just I am indifferent to him right now. Swann has impressed me because he has taken wickets with really good deliveries, none more so than the way he got Clarke in the Ashes last year, I thought that was superb. I actually liked the honesty Hauritz showed last year when he admitted Australia would have done the same thing in the situation where the 12th man brought out extra gloves to Anderson or whoever it was. As a Kiwi, who is admittedly blinded by the mutual bias some of us share with the Aussies from time to time, that moment from Hauritz allowed me to finally start appreciating the Australian players. As far as who I'd like to see in the next test though, I'd have loved to have seen Siddle play. I reckon as far as Australian bowlers go, regardless of stats, he's awesome. Complete workhorse, just goes and goes and goes. Sid Vicious is a very fitting nickname.

  • Hutchinson on October 4, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    India was hurt by the absence of VVS Laxman in middle order...also Dhoni should have looked to bat till stumps with Raina ,so that Laxman can take rest & Bat next day but he made a mess of it.Now After India dominating majorly on Day 3,the match is even but i don't think that Aussies will declare with a lead of 350

  • Sultan. on October 4, 2010, 2:23 GMT

    Indian readers are unbelievable on this blog. I've never seen so many whingers complaining about every little thing that their team didnt do 100% perfect. Heres the reason why: NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Aussies didnt allow them to dominate late in the day. I can't imagine what its going to be like when you lose all your granpas from that batting line up in the next 12 months.

  • anandby on October 4, 2010, 2:03 GMT

    Bajji was effective because Kumble used to put pressure from the other end. so without Kumle ot the other end Bajji is ineffective. I think Dhoni loves Ishant because failure after failure he is in the team which has no logic. Very rarely Aus have let down so many chances and still got the lead - can't imagine what would have happened if they had take all the chances which I am sure they will not repeat in the 4th innings. They need to get 250 plus and then India will put pressure on themselves and loose the match.

  • andrew-schulz on October 4, 2010, 2:00 GMT

    Swann has picked up a stack of wickets in the last year, no doubt about it, but mainly against weak opposition. Correspondents might need to be reminded that Hauritz was twice the bowler Swann was in the three Tests they played head-to-head in the Ashes last year in Swann's home conditions. Expect them both to play vital roles in the coming months, with Hauritz having the advantage of going forward in a vastly superior side. (Those who scoff at that would be the same who scoffed four years ago. Watch and learn this time).

  • Timbo2010 on October 4, 2010, 1:54 GMT

    Raina used up a lot of luck yesterday. He will never get away with another stumping chance like the one he offered Paine and a couple of cross-batted slogs were top edged just short of fielders. When luck deserts him, they will be swallowed. Nevertheless he showed good intent and hits well through the offside. It will be interesting to see how he plays when the balls bounces higher than the stumps.

  • Mahesh_Eswar on October 4, 2010, 1:40 GMT

    Swann is good but not great. I saw his bowling in the last few months and extracts huge turn in England pitches. I am waiting for him to play test against India and SL. That will be a true reflection of his quality. In my opinion he is currently the best emerging test spinner with high rate of success (i believe in data). Hauritz is pretty young and will learn over few years. I saw him flighting the ball well and slowing the pace; both of them good qualities for a spinner.What he lacks is variety. I also felt that Ponting did not provide him with ample support in this test. For a bowler like him I would have a forward short leg, silly point, slip and a leg slip. Especially with 425+ on board, Ponting could have given him aggressive fielding.

  • chad_reid on October 4, 2010, 1:32 GMT

    GO AUSSIE GO WELL DONE MITCH EXCELLENT BOWLING

  • MinusZero on October 3, 2010, 23:30 GMT

    Ishant has great potential with his height being an advantage, but i think he needs some more coaching. He is leaking far to many runs. At 22 years of age, he has many years to develop and in the future could definitely be the fast bowling option that India needs and world number 1.

  • Meety on October 3, 2010, 23:28 GMT

    @Michael Dickson - agreed that Swan is turning (no pun intended), into a real force in International cricket. Bag Hauritz at your peril though mate. Hauritz is doing a job, albeit completely different to the Warne/MacGill way.

  • Meety on October 3, 2010, 23:26 GMT

    @Masterclass - I will LOL when India starts getting its dues that are coming. This is the calm before the storm, when the big 3 middle order retire - & will be soon, & it will be all at once, India will be sitting ducks. I will LOL - even though I would normally be civil, it will because of arrogant people like yourself. India gifted their wickets, a present from the BCCI - you have no credibility mate. Zak & MJ get 5 fors but Zaks 5 for was sooooo much better. NOOB. @rahu367 -true Sharma hasn't bowled well but Sreesanth did not bowl to well v Oz in the warm up game. Zak does need a new ball partner - I think Sharma will need to be kept for tours of Oz & Sth Africa & Eng, where his attributes are better suited (i.e pace & bounce). @nineteenineteen - agreed re: Swan, but don't underestimate Hauritz. He serves a purpose - he is no great but he is a good foil - wish he was 1 run per over tighter than the 4 he was leaking on Day 3.

  • Drew2 on October 3, 2010, 23:17 GMT

    Masterclass - MJ doesn't take 150 test wickets at 28 because he is a predictable bowler suckering every batsman into bad shots. As for the difference in run rate, well this Australian side isn't a patch on the previous sides. They are rebuilding, yet currently are holding their own against the top side in their own conditions. That deserves some respect, unlike your comments.

  • Hodra99 on October 3, 2010, 23:08 GMT

    @MasterClass..your comments show that you have no creditability at all as a cricket observer...open the other eye...Mitch Johnson bowled well...your 'comment' is pure sour grapes. Mitch came out and talked the talk and now he has walked the walk. Credit where credit is due.

  • MasterClass on October 3, 2010, 23:06 GMT

    @razor88-Swann is best bowler in the world at the moment. Great spirit & heart. I would love to see India play him soon!

  • MasterClass on October 3, 2010, 22:37 GMT

    @Davo47- Excuses??? I was chastising the Indian team/think tank for the approach in the last session. BTW MJ's comments are the normal Aus bluster which everyone knows is worth zero these days. So they just end up making him look even more stupid.

  • MasterClass on October 3, 2010, 22:23 GMT

    @Rahu367- if conditions are not made for swing, then it's better to have a fit Ishant because he can hit the deck and get movement off the seam/pitch. BUT the key is FIT. If he is not fit then I agree it's better to have Shree or Munaf.

  • on October 3, 2010, 22:18 GMT

    Haha, you Indians were all blabbering how Sehwag would do this and that to Johnson's short deliveries, and lo, it was the short ball indeed that did for Sehwag. I'll know better than to listen to all your whining next time.

  • on October 3, 2010, 21:34 GMT

    Razor88, why not mention Swann? I would not mention Hauritz, he doesn't impress me as a bowler, but Swann has been key to England's successes in the last 18 months-2 years. He has also bagged a lot of wickets, far more than Hauritz in the same time, and has proven far more attacking as well. He is easily the most destructive spin bowler right now.

  • smudgeon on October 3, 2010, 21:33 GMT

    Razor 88, don't underestimate Swann. He's a class above Hauritz, no mistake, and he's willing to attack - just don't expect him to be on a par with Murali, Warne, Kumble, et al. I think the problem is we've just come out of an age of great spinners, and our expectations are pretty high. Back to the topic at hand, it was good to see a contest out there! India dominated with the bat, then Australia with the ball. Now we've got two full days left and it's pretty evenly poised - this is what test cricket's all about, let's just hope the spirit (sadly lacking in recent matches between these sides) is of a similar standard.

  • David47 on October 3, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    Well, well - what a surprise. Only three fifths of the way through the first test and the EXCUSES are coming thick and fast already. @MasterClass (your tag is a joke - right?) - chill pill with a reality drink for you matey.

  • on October 3, 2010, 19:10 GMT

    So sad to see Indians giving away the wickets in such a disgusting manner..don''no why on earth dhoni was trying to hit so many sixes..they simply gave away the advantge after all the hardwork by dravid and sachin..poor application..INDIA cld hav won this match....

  • soaf on October 3, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    fantastic bowling from mitch and really showed the chauvinist indian fanz that he is better than the overhyped zaheer khan.zaheer has been very lucky over the years to bowl for side having the best batting lineup in the world.his true potental would have been very much clear if he were part of a team having an average batting line up.calling him as one of best fast bowler of this era is one of the hyperbole statement of this era.

  • Razor88 on October 3, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    yup!! Its been Looooong Since i saw him(Munaf)...But seriously Bhaji is no where near to lead the Indian Spin Dept,I think Ashwin should get a chance, Ojha is pretty Good,he is much accurate than Bhaji... I think this is a Batsman's Era.....No good spinner right now.... The leading(Wickets) Spinners in the world are Afridi,Daniel and Bhaji...tellls how bad this era in spinniers... After Murali and Kumble's Retirement there have been no Good spinners... Damn sad for cricket and as well for India :(

    Plz Don't mention Swan or Hauritz .... Hope aussies can produce spinner like warne...

  • rahu367 on October 3, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    the selectors are not choosing sreesanth ahead of ishant may be they are trying to get a better nightwatchmen in ishant rather than a good fast bowler.he bowled at over 6 an over and for more than 80% of the game india had to operate with 3 bowlers which helped australians get back in the game after being under immense pressure . he is wasting a spot in indian cricket team sreesanth may also go at 5runs an over but he will take 2-3 wickets for sure which could result in india victory and he is also a has a average of 13.26 as compared to ishant who has got 13.22 so if india want a good nightwatchmen then they should give a chance to sreesanth as got better average and better strike rate and better ishant highest score by 4 and ojha should be dropped as he only bowls good in ipl and amit mishra should be given a chance as he is a good bowler and ok batsmen and it will strenthen our batting line up and we could get an off spinner in (BHAJJI)and a leg spinner in (AMIT MISHRA)and can win..

  • MasterClass on October 3, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    Once again MJ is the beneficiary of disgust generated by his straight-as-an-arrow angling across, 3 feet outside off, bowling. The above was exemplified by Dhoni literally walking 3 feet to his right to play the bowling.

  • MasterClass on October 3, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    This has got to be a gift from BCCI to CA. There's no other way to explain the inexplicable approach by India in the 3rd session, after all the hard work done in the earlier 2.5 sessions? To claim that it was the Aus bowling is not believable. Raina, Zaheer, Dhoni all gave away their wicket trying to blast the bowling. One can understand Dhoni trying that approach to gather quick runs, but why Raina, who was almost assured another 100, and Zaheer who has proven he can bat long. Particularly when India's best batsman against Aus, VVS, was still to come and another days rest might have cured his strained back? A lead of 100-150 was a very likely scenario following the same judiciously aggressive approach that was so successful all day. India's run rate was a healthy 3.7 which was more than enough.

  • Analytical_Sathya on October 3, 2010, 16:45 GMT

    It's intriguing to see Munaf Patel being excluded from the playing squad when all and sundry gets a India cap. Selectors.. please select the best bowlers and if you are following any quota system then that is the peak of foolishness..!

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  • Analytical_Sathya on October 3, 2010, 16:45 GMT

    It's intriguing to see Munaf Patel being excluded from the playing squad when all and sundry gets a India cap. Selectors.. please select the best bowlers and if you are following any quota system then that is the peak of foolishness..!

  • MasterClass on October 3, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    This has got to be a gift from BCCI to CA. There's no other way to explain the inexplicable approach by India in the 3rd session, after all the hard work done in the earlier 2.5 sessions? To claim that it was the Aus bowling is not believable. Raina, Zaheer, Dhoni all gave away their wicket trying to blast the bowling. One can understand Dhoni trying that approach to gather quick runs, but why Raina, who was almost assured another 100, and Zaheer who has proven he can bat long. Particularly when India's best batsman against Aus, VVS, was still to come and another days rest might have cured his strained back? A lead of 100-150 was a very likely scenario following the same judiciously aggressive approach that was so successful all day. India's run rate was a healthy 3.7 which was more than enough.

  • MasterClass on October 3, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    Once again MJ is the beneficiary of disgust generated by his straight-as-an-arrow angling across, 3 feet outside off, bowling. The above was exemplified by Dhoni literally walking 3 feet to his right to play the bowling.

  • rahu367 on October 3, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    the selectors are not choosing sreesanth ahead of ishant may be they are trying to get a better nightwatchmen in ishant rather than a good fast bowler.he bowled at over 6 an over and for more than 80% of the game india had to operate with 3 bowlers which helped australians get back in the game after being under immense pressure . he is wasting a spot in indian cricket team sreesanth may also go at 5runs an over but he will take 2-3 wickets for sure which could result in india victory and he is also a has a average of 13.26 as compared to ishant who has got 13.22 so if india want a good nightwatchmen then they should give a chance to sreesanth as got better average and better strike rate and better ishant highest score by 4 and ojha should be dropped as he only bowls good in ipl and amit mishra should be given a chance as he is a good bowler and ok batsmen and it will strenthen our batting line up and we could get an off spinner in (BHAJJI)and a leg spinner in (AMIT MISHRA)and can win..

  • Razor88 on October 3, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    yup!! Its been Looooong Since i saw him(Munaf)...But seriously Bhaji is no where near to lead the Indian Spin Dept,I think Ashwin should get a chance, Ojha is pretty Good,he is much accurate than Bhaji... I think this is a Batsman's Era.....No good spinner right now.... The leading(Wickets) Spinners in the world are Afridi,Daniel and Bhaji...tellls how bad this era in spinniers... After Murali and Kumble's Retirement there have been no Good spinners... Damn sad for cricket and as well for India :(

    Plz Don't mention Swan or Hauritz .... Hope aussies can produce spinner like warne...

  • soaf on October 3, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    fantastic bowling from mitch and really showed the chauvinist indian fanz that he is better than the overhyped zaheer khan.zaheer has been very lucky over the years to bowl for side having the best batting lineup in the world.his true potental would have been very much clear if he were part of a team having an average batting line up.calling him as one of best fast bowler of this era is one of the hyperbole statement of this era.

  • on October 3, 2010, 19:10 GMT

    So sad to see Indians giving away the wickets in such a disgusting manner..don''no why on earth dhoni was trying to hit so many sixes..they simply gave away the advantge after all the hardwork by dravid and sachin..poor application..INDIA cld hav won this match....

  • David47 on October 3, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    Well, well - what a surprise. Only three fifths of the way through the first test and the EXCUSES are coming thick and fast already. @MasterClass (your tag is a joke - right?) - chill pill with a reality drink for you matey.

  • smudgeon on October 3, 2010, 21:33 GMT

    Razor 88, don't underestimate Swann. He's a class above Hauritz, no mistake, and he's willing to attack - just don't expect him to be on a par with Murali, Warne, Kumble, et al. I think the problem is we've just come out of an age of great spinners, and our expectations are pretty high. Back to the topic at hand, it was good to see a contest out there! India dominated with the bat, then Australia with the ball. Now we've got two full days left and it's pretty evenly poised - this is what test cricket's all about, let's just hope the spirit (sadly lacking in recent matches between these sides) is of a similar standard.

  • on October 3, 2010, 21:34 GMT

    Razor88, why not mention Swann? I would not mention Hauritz, he doesn't impress me as a bowler, but Swann has been key to England's successes in the last 18 months-2 years. He has also bagged a lot of wickets, far more than Hauritz in the same time, and has proven far more attacking as well. He is easily the most destructive spin bowler right now.