India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 4th day

Australia fight, but once again India rally

Every time Australia have caused India problems in this series, the hosts have somehow managed to turn their reversals around

Sharda Ugra

March 17, 2013

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

India are doing to Australia what casinos do to patrons. Regardless of fleeting, joyful gains, the house always wins.

No matter what Australia have produced so far in this series, it is India who have ended up converting reversals into advantage. The conditions have played their part, as has the difference in the skills needed required to handle them.

Australia have won every single toss of the series and done what India would themselves have wanted to do. In Chennai, they scored 380 and had India at 12 for 2 and then 196 for 4. Then came Dhoni. They sent back Sehwag in Hyderabad, before M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara scored 300-plus together. In Mohali, they went from 251 for 7 to 408 thanks to a 99 from their No. 9. Then Shikhar Dhawan turned up to trample over their bowling. On Sunday, India lost all ten first-innings wickets for 210, scored at under three runs per over, and had their lead limited to 91. By stumps, though, India's grip on the game was as strong if not stronger than it had been at the end of day three.

Australia finished at 75 for 3, still 16 behind India, and Michael Clarke has a bad back. Given that this Test match is a shortened contest, and the quality of the Australian resistance in the series so far, India have done enough to stay ahead.

Vijay scored his second century of the series and his third against Australia, a performance that will give both the batsman and the selectors much hope for the months ahead. In the morning, Vijay rolled along with Tendulkar, but during a period before lunch, India found their tyres stuck. For some reason, Australia didn't take the second new ball when it was due, with Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty sharing overs between them until the 90th. In that period, India scored merely 21 runs in 10 overs. They lost Tendulkar at lunch, and when the new ball was introduced, the Indian innings began to fall apart. In a series dominated by Indian spin, it was swing bowling that came into play.

Vijay's own dismissal after his second consecutive exceptionally well-paced innings, padding up to an inswinger from Starc, came first delivery with the second new ball. Vijay said after play: "Actually I lost my concentration little bit for that period, I think with the new ball and stuff." The Indian batting as a whole, it could be said, lost their concentration round about lunch time. It was their bowling that brought the game back.

The original plan, Vijay said, "was to bat as long as possible and we just wanted to set up a big lead so that we can come back into the Test match and win it hopefully. That was our thinking and … there are 90 overs left tomorrow." Regardless of how the second session panned out, he didn't think India had tossed away the advantage. "I think we are in a pretty good position at this moment, considering the wicket and everything. There is nothing to be worried about."

Vijay was asked whether the lack of quality spinners for Australia had helped India to which his reply was a dead-pan, "I can't comment on that but I think we are batting brilliantly and we are countering them better than expected." Brilliant batting should not produce a lead of 91 from an opening partnership of 289, but never mind.

On a pitch made for runs, a lead of 91 was going to shrink quickly, but then Sunday remained a bowlers' day. Even though Phil Hughes took his chances, Bhuvneshwar Kumar's three wickets ate into the Australian batting with another performance that filled Indian hearts with joy and relief. This is probably the most batsman-friendly Mohali has been in ages, with spin its eventual intended preference. Still, it was Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle who breathed life into Australia's hopes this afternoon, before Bhuvneshwar stepped in to stamp all over them in the course of his eight-over spell.

Against Bhuvneshwar, David Warner will admit he was on a suicide mission and Ed Cowan can probably curse his fate. The ball that got Steven Smith, though, was a confection. Australia's most composed first-innings batsman had the line well covered for what looked to be an in swinger. On pitching, though, like a drunken wasp, the ball changed directions and knocked out the off-stump.

Subsequently, the Australian bowling effort in the afternoon ended up being not a match-altering passage of play but one of the "positives" that losing captains are always asked about. Vijay said that as much as the bite and the spit off the track, reverse swing had begun to play its part. "It has been swinging from day one and that is what we prepared for because it's Mohali. It is happening, so hopefully we should wait for some [reverse] to happen tomorrow. It is getting lower and slower so it is going to be difficult for them to score runs."

This is standard practice in cricket, one side offering ominous pitch predictions in the hope of ensuring that seeds of doubt germinate among the opposition. But given Australia's batting in this series, maybe Vijay is merely stating a fact.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by crickpundit on (March 18, 2013, 9:06 GMT)

whats this yar aus- 4-0 win in austarlia now india seems 4-0 win in india.cant w have a third party venue game for true cricketing lovers?

Posted by JustMyOpinon on (March 18, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

How must poor Phil Hughes feel seeing plumb LBWs not being given against the Indian batsmen? On the other hand, Cowan and Clarke might rue their 'luck' too.

Posted by   on (March 18, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

Two benefits if Sachin retires- 1) Will give opportunity to one of the many young talents waiting in the wings. 2) Team will play as a unit freely without the obsession/Aura of Sachin.

Posted by ProdigyA on (March 18, 2013, 2:40 GMT)

Really feel sorry for Dhawan. All his brave innings wasted by our defensive mindset of not going for a win. Watching Sachin and Co waste so much valuable time makes you lose interest in test cricket.

Posted by Top-Spinner on (March 18, 2013, 2:01 GMT)

Jadeja poking at a ball and getting caught is a preview of what is expected from him in South Africa. He is going to struggle against pace which means we are left with Jadeja the spinner who is bound to be ineffective on those pitches. Hopefully, some deserving candidate like Rayudu or Rehane will get a chance.

Posted by   on (March 18, 2013, 1:51 GMT)

I agree with bringing Rahane in as it will certainly shore up the currently rather thin middle order. We can beat an inexperienced and weakened Australia even with these collapses happening, but no.1 SA (with an attack that has bowled out 3 teams for under 50 in the last 18 months ) would ruthlessly capitalize on them. As far as SA is concerned, I think Yuvraj should also be in the squad. Though he is out of form, his experience (and of course fielding) will be invaluable.

Tendulkar is just not the same player since the Chennai match. He has become really defensive as people have pointed out. Yes, also Kohli didn't protect the tail enough like Dhoni did in Chennai. Of course Dhoni could have done that yesterday too but he was trapped in front while coming down the track to negate the swing of Starc.

Posted by   on (March 18, 2013, 1:08 GMT)

Kohli is a very good batsman. He has to add one more repertoire to graduate to greatness. Like VVS used to do, he has to learn the art of batting withe tail and build an innings to either save a test or win test.

Posted by   on (March 18, 2013, 1:04 GMT)

When Vijay says, it will be difficult for OZ to score runs on the last day, he is forgetting that India would find it equally difficult to score the required runs in its second innings. (India will have to bat on Monday, if it bowls out OZ.) Indian batsmen has to be particularly careful on Monday, since Siddle & Starc are getting swing (normal & reverse), and the bounce is becoming more and more unpredictable.

Posted by   on (March 18, 2013, 0:13 GMT)

minus Sachin's batting...india was on course to win...Jeez BCCI would do well to arrange a short 2 match series with Bangladesh in the interim before SA, so that he finishes with 200 matches and retire...he is fast becoming a digrace for his place... Please dont let that Sunny Gavaskar to meet selectors, he wants the two blind batsmen Viru and Gambhir in team for SA...

Posted by D-Ascendant on (March 17, 2013, 23:48 GMT)

Let us now ease Tendulkar out of the team, and get over this Jadeja obsession, and who knows, we might be able to win Test series overseas again?

Posted by rosh280 on (March 17, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

Sandeep patil and company could be so proud that they have so many players in the side. I think twenty and oneday matches we could try manish pandey and mayank agarwal very well they are the great attacking players india has right now. murali vijay is a no mention. he is a record hitting batsman of four and sixes. i hope indian team should use these youngsters like manish pandey, mayank agarwal, vijay, asad pathan, ambati rayudu into the one day squad. no doubt india can win every matches. india has lot of players who can be well fitted to oneday and twenty games like murali vijay, shikhar dawan, manish pandey, mayank agarwal, suresh raina, rohit sharma, yuvraj singh, ravindra jadeja, unmukt chand, robin uttappa, sachin rana, dinesh karthik, dhoni and many more. asad pathan, mayank, vijay, manish pandey, uttappa are the really hard hitting batsman now india can use.

Posted by rosh280 on (March 17, 2013, 18:32 GMT)

sharda gave a real look into the game. it is not so easy india can win. they have to concentrate on getting 3 wickets more in the morning first section. jadeja and bhuvanesh kumar can take them early. aswin should be tried with first few overs he can strike early with his basic instinct. if so india can smell the victory so early. i think india has lot of potential players in the side if they find form, looks possible vijay and dhawan played their best in the first innings they can find the form in the next innings also.India does nt have to worry we have lot of players in the grooming mood like murali vijay, shikhar dawan, pujara, mayank agarwal, manish pandey, saurab tiwari, abhinav mukund, c m gowtham, rahul dewan, sachin rana, parvez rasool, ian dev singh, rishi dawan, ravi inder singh, manprit juneja, asad pathan, unmukt chand, ambati rayudu, jalaj saxena, robin uttappa and many.

Posted by phunny_game on (March 17, 2013, 18:22 GMT)

Oz cannot win the match, even they will admit... But the lead was so slender that it should result in a draw... Atleast they can bat till the second session, i am sure of that. And after that Dhoni, as we all know, won't go for the kill. Play it safe strategy has always been the approach with Indian skippers. Unless another Dhawan blitzkrieg, which is highly unlikely, I don't see a result tomorrow.

Posted by Aussasinator on (March 17, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

Sachin Tendulkar's batting style and time of dismissal has infused a new life into this match.Australia now has the chance to get a lead of 150 and put India in pressure to save this match. the great man has mastered the knack of getting bogged down at the wrong time and putting the lower order under pressure.

Posted by VJ_Cricket on (March 17, 2013, 17:14 GMT)

i agree with a lot of what others are saying. Sachin's defensive approach baffles me. May not as fluent as Dhawan but at least milk singles, keep the scoreboard moving.

My guess is India will be in similar situation as Chennai tomorrow, clean em up and a small total to chase down.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2013, 17:10 GMT)

pr3m..suite yourself..australia may or may not set up a target of 200 be rest assured there is only one team who can loose this test match and every sane person knows that...

Posted by   on (March 17, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

I would give credit to Australia to the way they fought back with the new ball, especially Peter Siddle who bowled with the heart of a lion and fully deserved his 5-for. You can't say there is nothing in the pitch. There was a lot of reverse swing on offer today. Ashwin and Jadeja's batting seems to have tapered off over the last few Tests and they have become walking wickets, which is not a good thing considering our next series is in SA. But India came back strongly with the ball, and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar produced a beauty of a delivery to knock back Smith's offstump. With Australia 3 down and still 16 runs behind facing a 5th day wicket and Clarke injured, an Indian win seems more likely. Target of 150 would be really interesting indeed. It could go the way of Chennai 2001 , which, incidentally, also capped a series win for India!! I hope India tries a win even if less overs are available unlike their abandonment of the chase against WI in 2011, as it might send a message to SA.

Posted by usernames on (March 17, 2013, 17:00 GMT)

I was a bit disappointed in India's approach today. I got that Tendulkar and Vijay were trying to erase the Australian lead and were waiting for the new ball. That was understandable, and then, the unexpected happened. Starc swung it like a dream and Dhoni, et al got out. But, at the end, when Bhuvneshwar and Kohli were batting, they could have pushed a bit more.

Here, another 40-50 runs can mean a lot. They have a slender lead which could have easily been about 150 with a slightly more aggressive approach. Kohli's approach at batting with the tail isn't the greatest. It's a precarious situation. Jadeja is outbowling Ojha, unless something drastic happens tomorrow, but he isn't making any progress as a batsman. I'd be tempted to give Rahane a go to give the order a bit more stability.

So, Dhawan, Vijay, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni, Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar, Jadeja, Ishant could be a good team for Delhi.

Posted by VJ_Cricket on (March 17, 2013, 16:54 GMT)

3 x tosses won, 3 x 1st innings shambles and not a settled batting order, definitely recipe for disaster. Aussies need to get thr act together before Champions trophy and back to back Ashes.

This series had shown thr are still issues wch need to be addressed for India, mini collapses are a bit concerning, but few individual performances have shadowed these issues.

India must use the final test to give opportunity to others yet untested in the squad.

Posted by usernames on (March 17, 2013, 16:53 GMT)

I don't think it's that much in favor of India. With Haddin, Clarke, and Henriques (and Starc!) to come, we have our task cut out. Having said that, things can happen pretty quickly on Indian pitches on Day 4-5. For India, the best result would be bowling Australia out in the first session for less than 160-70. You get a paltry 70-80 to chase and that should be easy, even on an Indian fifth day pitch.

For Australia, if they get by the first session with losing not more than two wickets, they have more or less saved the match. They just need to bat till the middle of the day and Dhoni won't go after the chase, whatever the number of runs are. Them winning is a very far fetched result but it's still possible if they get 250-270 and declare or get out. India has to chase 150-170 which can be tricky. It definitely should be a good day's cricket though.

Well played to Australia, especially Siddle today. Well played to India, too. One dodgy decision of Pujara changed what could have been.

Posted by Rags57 on (March 17, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

The turning point I believe was Tendulkar's dismissal following a very defensive approach by the great man. Don't understand why he gets into a shell more often than not these days. If he had played his natural game like he did in Chennai Australia would never have had a foot in the door. He and Vijay were the ideal batsmen for India to have gone through the first 10 or 15 overs of the new ball and if they had survived India could have shut the door on Australia. Now, despite India being ahead, we must thank Sachin for creating a genuine excitement in this match.

Posted by pr3m on (March 17, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Australia? If there's nothing in the pitch, I think India was rubbish! With Dhawan gone, and Vijay padding up, it looked like they forgot how to hold a bat. If Australia do get all out and set India a target of 150 or so, I wouldn't wanna predict the winner.

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