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March 2, 2013
The first day in Hyderabad was bookended by two strange decisions from the Australian camp. In the morning they wrote the names of two spinners on their team sheet but neither was Nathan Lyon. And in the late afternoon Michael Clarke declared at 237 for 9, the only time in Test history that a captain has declared the first innings of a non-rain-affected match closed with so few runs on the board. The rest of the day provided some goings on that could have been weird except they have become all too familiar for Australia.
Again they lost wickets in clumps, 4 for 63 at the top and then 5 for 25 at the bottom. Again Clarke was one of the two batsmen who rescued the innings and dragged it out of the realms of embarrassment. His partner on this occasion was the wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, who in this series is doubling as a member of Australia's top six.
Their 145-run stand was a record for the fifth wicket by an Australian pair in India and it gave Australia hope after Clarke won the toss and chose to bat. Just as Moises Henriques had in Chennai, Wade looked like the only man capable of staying in the middle alongside Clarke. He struck eight boundaries, used his feet to the spinners and appeared in control until losing his cool; a stumping reprieve was followed next ball by a slashed catch to backward point.
"I felt in control today," Wade said. "I felt like my plans against the spin and against the quicks came off pretty well. It's still pretty disappointing to get out when I did. Me and Michael had built a really good platform and we lost a lot of wickets in that last session, so it was satisfying in a way that my plans that I've been working on in the nets are working out in the middle, but very disappointing that we couldn't kick on and have a really big partnership."
Noticeably absent from Wade's game was the sweep shot, which brought him undone in the second innings in Chennai when he tried to sweep a ball that was too straight and was bowled by Harbhajan Singh. Wade has been practising the shot in the nets but decided it wasn't the best option on the first day of a Test when the ball was not turning as significantly as it would later.
"This is day one of a Test match so the spin is not as big," Wade said. "I think when conditions suit spinners it's an important shot for a couple of our players. I certainly won't be putting it away for the whole tour if conditions suit. If I feel like it's on I'll go back to it. I think it's just assessing when we play it. England played it really well over here and scored a lot of runs, so I think it's a valuable shot. Going into day four and day five I think it will play its role."
Wade might also have been hesitant to risk top-edging a sweep after he entered this match with a minor fracture to his cheek suffered while facing throwdowns in the nets on Friday. Australia's team doctor Peter Brukner said on match eve that Wade was likely to play, though he would need to see how he recovered by morning.
"There was no doubt really," he said. "I just needed to check how I woke up to make sure my eye didn't close over. When I woke up and had a look in the mirror and I could see properly, I was all good to play."
There was no such luck for Lyon or Mitchell Starc, both of whom were dropped after the loss in the first Test, leaving Australia with three frontline bowlers - James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Xavier Doherty - and two allrounders, Henriques and the debutant Glenn Maxwell. The bowlers were given an early chance when Clarke declared late in the day, forcing India's openers to face three overs, but they survived unscathed.
"With the ball a little bit harder there was probably a bit more up-and-down bounce in the first hour or so, hence the reason why we declared," Wade said. "We felt that if we could get the ball in the right area and get one to stay low or one to jump up, and we get a couple of nicks or a couple of lbws, we could have a couple of wickets tonight. That didn't happen but we're pretty confident that if we hit the stumps enough we're going to create enough chances.
"We've got two spinners, plus Michael, and Davey [Warner] can have a bowl if he has to. I think that will play a big role tomorrow. But I also think the quicks are pretty hard work, it went reverse swing for them. You saw their first three wickets were from the quicks. We'll be hoping that a couple of seamers can get a couple of lbws or bowleds tomorrow."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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