India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 3rd day March 4, 2013

Spin tightens India's grip on game


Australia 237 for 9 dec and 74 for 2 (Ashwin 2-42) trail India 503 (Pujara 204, Vijay 167, Maxwell 4-127) by 192 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Cheteshwar Pujara and M Vijay set about breaking a bunch of records on the third morning in Hyderabad before Australia's spinners struck regularly to curtail India's innings. Like Australia offspinner Jason Krejza's wickets on Test debut in Nagpur four years ago, the breakthroughs didn't come early enough to worry India much, as the home side's lead expanded to 266.

Australia's batsmen then had their technique against spin rigorously tested in the final session, and the abundance of deliveries that spat off the pitch or shot low meant India could entertain thoughts of an innings victory. The batsmen were so tied in knots against the turning ball that in one 12-over spell, Australia made only 10 runs despite David Warner powering a six, which was cleanly taken in the stands by former fast bowler Merv Hughes.

Australia decided the way to handle the spin was to go for the sweep, but both Warner and Phillip Hughes messed up the shot to be bowled soon after R Ashwin switched to bowling over the wicket. Hughes' position in the side is becoming increasingly untenable as he remained unsure how to score against spin, gloving the ball on to his stumps for a duck. Ed Cowan survived the testing spell to remain unbeaten at stumps, with Shane Watson keeping him company.

Batting had seemed so much easier in the morning when Vijay and Pujara stretched their stand to 370 runs, India's largest second-wicket partnership and the country's fourth biggest overall. Though Vijay missed out on a double-century, Pujara underlined his reputation as a big-innings player with his second Test 200.

As on the second day, India began cautiously despite having Australia on the mat. After a handful of watchful overs in the morning though, Vijay and Pujara unfurled their strokes. Once again Australia's spinners couldn't maintain a good length early on, producing plenty of boundary balls. Pujara repeatedly played what is becoming his signature shot - the powerful cut in front of point - and Vijay played plenty of effortless and easy-on-the-eye drives.

The frustration increased for Australia as a close call for lbw against Pujara was turned down off Xavier Doherty in the 106th over and a Vijay outside edge flew through the vacant first slip in the 109th.

Finally, there was some relief for Australia when the much-criticised Glenn Maxwell got one delivery to spin and bounce forcing Vijay to edge it to backward-short leg. It had been almost 110 overs since their previous wicket.

The wickets came much quicker after that. Pujara got to his double-century with a stylish on-drive - his first boundary in the V - before he fell playing a shot that has resulted in his dismissal several times in Tests already: the hook.

For the third day in a row, a healthy crowd had turned up - around 20,000 of them were in though it was a Monday - and plenty of those wanted to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat. After more than a day padded up, Tendulkar came to the middle, greeted by a defeaning roar, but he didn't last long, playing a leg-side ball off the face of the bat to the keeper, with the third umpire stepping in to determine whether there was bat involved.

MS Dhoni then showed why he's such a dangerous batsmen when a team is pushing for a declaration, hitting a series of boundaries behind point that quickly swelled India's lead past 200. He fell for a 43-ball 44 as a drilled drive was taken on the second attempt by Xavier Doherty at mid-off. Ravindra Jadeja followed to another second-attempt catch, this time Maxwell reacting sharply off his own bowling. The terrific catching continued as Cowan made amends for an earlier drop by pouching India's last remaining specialist batsman, Virat Kohli.

India's final six wickets went down for 43 runs, though there was plenty of encouragement for the home side's spinners during that phase, as the ball ripped and spun from Doherty and Maxwell. Doherty's dismissal of Ashwin, in particular, would have caught the attention of India's slow bowlers: a fizzing delivery, it bounced and took the shoulder of Ashwin's bat through to the keeper. The late wickets flattered the Australian spinners' figures a bit, with Maxwell briefly in the hunt for a five-for.

India's tweakers made an early impact far earlier in the innings to leave Australia yet again hoping for a Michael Clarke special.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Phil on March 5, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    @Popcorn agree 100%. Its obvious to me that none of the current batting lineup can play the sweep with any confidence so FFS stop playing it, and stop playing across the line. Virtually all the Austalian batsmen have been dismissed Not Playing Straight. It is absolutely imperative they present a vertical bat today if they are going to bat for any length of time.The tactic of sweeping worked spectacularly well for Matthew Hayden in particular in India and obviously its peceived wisdom that you have to sweep often in India to suceed. Yet Michael Clarke has shown this isn't ncessarily true, he scores runs with few if any sweeps,and it should be patently obvious to Cowan, Warner, Henriques, Wade and Watson that they should NOT be playing this shot, or indeed many cross batted shots.Khawaja got a 80 odd against Botha and Lyon earlier in the season and combined sweeping with using his feet and that's the best way to combat the spin.Now is the time for application and concentration.

  • Al on March 5, 2013, 0:05 GMT

    Agree with @ cricketsunami - I think Indian team playing with 9 members in the team. Look at the 1st player in the team "Sehwag" last 14 innings consistently he is failing. Look at the 11th player "Ishanth Sharma" he bowled more than 60 overs without a wicket. Why are the selectors still backing these 2 non-performers?? Everybody should be made accountable - including the selectors.

  • Graham on March 4, 2013, 23:57 GMT

    karthik_raja - Thats too much common sense for the ICC to implement. I like the idea od slow motion replays rather than a "predictive path", that way you would only overturn the existing umpires decision with clear proof.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 23:38 GMT

    Cowan is doing what any opening batsman should do - stay in! Sure he is scoring a little slow but he has application. With the spinners - Doherty has bowled well in trying conditions and was rewarded with 3 wickets. And Maxwell did well too. Australia needs the solidarity of George Bailey in the middle. Drop Hughes, move Clarke up one spot, then Watson, Bailey etc. It's a bit strange that Bailey doesn't seem to appear in sides when Clake is captain. Is there an issue here?

  • Mark on March 4, 2013, 23:32 GMT

    Regarding pitches and skills sets to play on them. The pitches that produce the best spectacle to watch and play cricket are not flat, dead, crumbling pitches. Half the skill set is eliminated. Give the players an opportunity to play strokes rather than graft an innings. Give bowlers the opportunity to bowl fast. I know which pitches I prefer to watch cricket being played. It's hard fast for 2-3 days and rips and spins for 2.

  • John on March 4, 2013, 23:31 GMT

    That's a good comeback from Australia and there was always the feeling that a few wickets might tumble once they could break through that one big partnership. More than a few wickets tumbled but then it was more than a big partnership too. Australia are still an outside chance if they can set India any sort of reasonable target but there's still a lot of work to do still to even avoid an innings defeat.

  • David on March 4, 2013, 23:19 GMT

    Let's not write off this Aussie side just yet...look at what happened with England. And, the Aussies are renowned fighters, particularly with their backs against the wall. And, if Clarke gets in, and has a willing partner...well, who knows, particularly with a pretty weak bowling attack. Maybe the track will, at last, help the Indian spinners, but let's see what happens on Day 4. Again, the first hour's going to be crucial, particularly if Clarke comes in. NOT one of my favourite cricketers', but a good player of spin...well see how it goes from here...

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    I agree with Nerk. In the first innings, of Australia's 9 wickets 8 were due to the batsman playing across the line. Pujara and Vijay showed what rewards you get from playing straight. They batted beautifully for a day and a session. The Australians stood in the field and watched this and surely they would have learned something. But obviously NOT. Warner and Hughes both out bowled trying to sweep, when both balls could have been driven to mid on (or long on). So we are clearly going to still have to put up with watching Australian batsmen get out playing in the opposite manner to what the suits the pitch. I know no-one cares about this series and the focus is all on the Ashes, but we are going to get smashed in England if we don't learn to adjust our game to suit the conditions.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 22:57 GMT

    Cant Believe how easy Warner Hughes threw away their wickets 4 overs left of the day why Play risky shots? theres no need for runs as best Result for Australia is a Draw, anything outside Leg stump can be kicked away please learn this.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    To cricketsunami - you are correct in those players not contributing but you forget that India's best two players for the first two matches have been Dharmasena and Erasmus, but you forgot to add those two to your playing roster. FYI: 10-0 is the LBW count in favour of India - yes that is 0 for Australia