|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
October 9, 2010
At the end of the opening day, India wouldn't have been sure whether to feel satisfied after a hard day's work or slightly let down over passages of play when they let things drift. They did splendidly to recover from a barren opening session that cost 95 runs, but then conceded 57 in an hour to Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Hussey fell to a poor stroke and Ponting, on his favourite Indian ground, was denied another hundred by Suresh Raina's part-time offspin. But by the time play was called off for bad light, it was hard to escape the feeling that MS Dhoni had played the occasional-bowler card a few overs too many.
Virender Sehwag, as optimistic and positive a soul as any in the Indian dressing room, looked on the bright side after the day's play. "We're happy with the score," he said. "The way they started, we thought they might make 350 or so. We're especially happy with the wicket that Raina took, when Ponting looked set for a hundred."
After the paltry crowds in Mohali, Bangalore provided a much more raucous atmosphere. Ponting was greeted by boos - though Shane Watson claimed later not to hear them - and every Indian wicket whipped the crowd into a frenzy. "In Bangalore, people usually come to see Tests and cheer India," said Sehwag. "So we're very happy. Hopefully, they'll come for all five days."
The players went off three deliveries after the new ball was taken, but there was no grumbling from the Indians, with overcast conditions expected for much of the five days. "We just ask them to stay consistent," said Sehwag. "Then it's fair for both teams."
Once again, India wasted the new ball. Zaheer Khan was perhaps still feeling the effects of his exertions in Mohali, while Sreesanth overpitched consistently early on trying to get the ball to swing. When he got the right shape, the length was wrong and then continued in his later spells when he bowled some fine deliveries without quite stringing together a great over.
In Indian conditions, Zaheer has invariably been more effective with the older ball, while Sreesanth, too, helped India win a game in Kanpur last year with telling spells of reverse swing. There was no dramatic action with the old ball here though, with spinners bowling in tandem for much of the afternoon. "Because of the ground conditions, which are wet, and the side wickets not being dry," said Sehwag when asked about it. "If they dry up, then reverse swing will be a factor."
India were dealt a blow in the morning with the late withdrawal of VVS Laxman, though Sehwag insisted that the decision to go with young blood in Cheteshwar Pujara was the right one. "He [Laxman] tested in the morning and he said his back was still stiff and sore. We didn't want to take any chances. If something goes wrong, we can't even get a fielder for him. So it was the right decision not to play."
Having experienced his own dip in form in South Africa in 2006-07 - he was axed after the final Test in Cape Town - there was some sympathy from Sehwag for Marcus North, fighting for an Ashes place and unbeaten on 43 overnight. "I think he's batted really well in this Test," said Sehwag. "At the moment, he's looking comfortable. But tomorrow morning, we'll be looking to put more pressure on him."
Unlike at Mohali, where dropped catches proved rather expensive, India were tidier in the field on Saturday. There was still some sloppy groundfielding, especially from those the wrong side of 30, but the catches taken by Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni and Sehwag represented a big improvement on what was on view in the opening Test.
With a new ball in hand on Sunday and the tail to come, a quick wrap could put India in a commanding position. For that to happen, they'll need to shake off an old habit and use the new ball effectively under cloudy skies.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance
The Plays of the day from the match between Kolkata and Mumbai, in Abu Dhabi
The Plays of the day from the match between Chennai and Punjab in Abu Dhabi