India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 4th day October 12, 2010

Ponting counters Indian dominance, again

India seemed to get everything right on an action-packed fourth day but the Australia captain ensured his bowlers were in with a chance

The Australians wouldn't exactly have been craving it, but a tour to India is not quite complete if you haven't experienced the home side getting on a roll. That's when the Indians go mad. The ball starts turning and jumping, or reversing, the fielders start diving and throwing accurately, faltering keepers don't let anything through, thousands of people appeal along with the 11 on the field. In that crazy atmosphere, that mad dance, that mayhem, the opposition melts. As though they are caught in the headlights and have nowhere to go.

It was something South Africa faced at Eden Gardens earlier this year. South Africa had reached 218 for 1 in 58 overs but they also lost eight wickets for 53. Harbhajan Singh took three in two overs, VVS Laxman ran backwards to take a catch, three from their middle order got themselves out, and Zaheer Khan got one with a pick-up-and-throw.

Australia haven't experienced that kind of roll on this tour. They have only been at the receiving ends of two semi-rolls, in the second innings of both the Tests. In the second of those, today, credit should go to Ricky Ponting for not freezing when wickets were falling around him, and not letting India develop it into a full-fledged roll.

That India started to get on one came as a bit of a surprise. Following Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal for 214, an innings that put India into a position from where they could bat Australia out, India ambled without any direction into the second session. MS Dhoni and the tail looked to neither preserve wickets to waste enough time nor hit out and go for a win.

The immediate result was a collapse of 5 for 9, and it was followed by an average bowling start. As Shane Watson and Simon Katich added 58 without trouble, it seemed Australia would have to make an adventurous declaration on the fourth morning to make something out of this situation.

Suddenly Pragyan Ojha produced an accurate arm ball. Suddenly Harbhajan got one to bounce and turn. Suddenly the crowd was woken from up from a collective power nap. The whole Chinnaswamy Stadium appealed almost every ball.

Dhoni, in ordinary form behind the stumps so far, held on to a sharp catch. He then followed to show the effectiveness of his newly acquired habit. When he is keeping to the spinners nowadays, he has zero follow-through. And every time he collects the ball, he whips the bails off. That might have seemed a bit unnecessary to some, but when - post routine - he saw Michael Clarke stranded on the line, sucked there by an offbreak, he erupted in joy.

Three wickets had fallen in six overs, and India were in their mad dance now. Cheteshwar Pujara hardly let anything go past his close-in positions, although nothing carried to him. Suresh Raina often made one-handed pick-ups-and-throws. The umpires were under pressure with extremely close shouts in almost every over.

Between this semi-roll and roll, though, stood Ponting, with his third score in the 70s out of four innings. He batted with resolve, scored off anything half loose, and managed to get the fielders out of his face. He seemed to be on his way to playing his most important innings in India, but then Zaheer intervened. His third solid innings on the tour may have ended in disappointment, but Ponting has given Australia something to bowl at.

India, though, will be pleased that Zaheer and Sreesanth came back the way they did. That all four bowlers, for the first time in the series, worked together as a unit would have pleased them the most. That the pitch still hadn't quite become a horror to bat on. Sachin Tendulkar later credited the bowlers for coming back from the early wobble, but wasn't taking anything for granted.

"It's going to be a big day for us tomorrow," he said. "The Test match is at a critical stage. It's all about how we deal with pressure and apply ourselves.

"We don't want to take anything for granted. It's going to be exciting and that's what I can say. It's going to be a wonderful day."

Wonderful day indeed, but also the last of the "series".

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jeptic on October 15, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    In the history of cricket, since the onset of WI and other big teams, England providd the WEAKEST bowling attack. Having said that, Sir Don's average would have been less but not to the pont where any other cricketer would have even come close. I am an Indian fan but this is true about The Don.

    However, barring The Don, I think that Sachin is the best the game has ever seen. Anyhow, Ponting always used to ask for a two tier system when Auss was on top. Does he still want that???

  • Proteas123 on October 14, 2010, 14:07 GMT

    To compare Sachin with the Don is crazy. If batting was so easy back then other batman would also have the high averages. They don't even come close. Sachin has had it easier because of weaker opposition and batting on dust bowls, he wouldn't score the runs against Larwood and Co, he couldn't do it against Donald and SA fast bowlers.

  • dummy4fb on October 14, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    At the end of the day cricket wins. Thats what we are looking for.Congratulations!!

  • sonofchennai on October 13, 2010, 10:29 GMT

    why would an article on Ponting's batting in one inning invite readers to compare Sachin and bradman...absolute nonsense....enjoy the batting of every great bastman we see in our life time

  • dummy4fb on October 13, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    ponting better than bradman....

  • Ajay_the_puritan on October 13, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    i can't take this s*it about don and sachin anymore. statistics is an ass. it makes kirsten a better batsman than vishwanath. don played almost all of his cricket against the poms. they weren't really great shakes with ball then as they are not now. some idiots argue that lara reached some landmark in fewer innings than sachin did. sigh! either they have not heard of something called acceleration or they think all comparisons should stop at that particular landmark. whatever sachin did 'afterwards' which lara didn't is out of their purview. ??? 21 years...sachin has equalled don there. without any gaps in between. 21 years with a billion hopes? tall task for any tom, dick or don.

  • dummy4fb on October 13, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    Bradman cannot be compared with Sachin, it was easy to score runs during Bradman's era and he made full use of it.

  • dummy4fb on October 13, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    @Davo47 is just jealous...Sorry buddy, Punter can never reach our Sachin's record.. Too bad for you...

  • srikp on October 13, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    What is with the screening of the comments? I had submitted some thoughts but was no posted. A reason for not posting would have been great. I realize you get a lot of posts but then being callous is not the exact attitude with the viewers/users of Cricinfo.

  • QTS_ on October 13, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    Bradman is insuperable by definition. If there has been or will be a paradigm of batsmanship, Bradman defines it. Cricket has changed and will continue to change, but Bradman has stretched the limits to the maximum. Imagine a batsman performing for twenty years in the form of Richards 1976, Yousuf 2006 or Tendulkar 2010. The figures, in his case, do pure justice, simply because his statistics are outlandishly better than the next person.

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