India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 3rd day March 24, 2013

The Maxwell surprise

Plays of the day from the third day of the Delhi Test between India and Australia

The surprise opener

When the Australians began their second innings, David Warner walked to the wicket but he didn't have Ed Cowan at his side. Instead, Glenn Maxwell was promoted to open the innings, presumably in an attempt to score quick runs and build their lead as fast as possible. In his previous 16 first-class matches the highest Maxwell had ever batted was No.5. The experiment didn't work for Australia on this occasion as Maxwell was bowled by Ravindra Jadeja for 8.

The surprise opener again
It was not surprising that Nathan Lyon took the new ball in India's chase, given the success he had in the first innings. But instead of pace from the other end, Shane Watson asked Maxwell to share the new ball, only the third time that Australia had ever opened with spin from both ends in a Test match. Maxwell also became the first Australian in 84 years to open the batting and bowling in the same Test match, since Percy Hornibrook did so in 1929.

The hat-trick balls
Twice on the third day spinners found themselves on a hat-trick but both times they were denied. Ravindra Jadeja got rid of Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson from consecutive deliveries and had his chance for a hat-trick against Peter Siddle. There were three slips, a short-leg and a silly point, but Siddle safely pushed the ball through the off side for two runs. Nathan Lyon also had a chance at a hat-trick after finishing India's first innings with the wickets of Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha. Lyon bowled the first ball of the chase and it spun sharply down the leg side. M Vijay had come down the wicket and could have been stumped but it was a very difficult chance for Matthew Wade.

The drop
India seemed well and truly coasting towards victory at 123 for 1, but then they lost three wickets for five runs and if the Australians could get another couple, it could have been a tight finish. Unfortunately for Australia, that chance went begging when MS Dhoni, who was yet to score, edged behind off Nathan Lyon and was dropped by Matthew Wade. It was a regulation opportunity for Wade, whose glovework cost Lyon a few wickets over the home summer as well. This missed chance also denied Lyon the chance to take ten wickets for the match.

The tension
After a few terse words were traded on day two, there was the odd exchange between the two teams on the third day as well. As the players walked off for lunch, Virat Kohli and the Australian batsman Wade were caught up in a heated discussion and the umpire Aleem Dar quickly jogged across and put himself between the two men to ease the tension. After the break, Ishant Sharma gave James Pattinson quite a send-off when he bowled him. As the day wore on and an Indian victory became a formality, things calmed down considerably.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on March 27, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    OhhhhMattyMatty - two wilting sides? Didnt the Poms just beat India IN INDIA. Which shows how bad our lot.

    Actually I think the team in the last test was probably our worst ever on paper, even worse than the 2ndXI of the second year of World Series Cricket - at least that team had Alan Border. A number of firsts in this team - Smith our worst ever number 5, Wade our worst number 6, Maxwell worst no.1, Hughes our worst ever player of spin (alongside David Hookes,RIP) Watson our most underperforming player relative to potential, Warner the least comprehending of how to play test cricket, Mitchell Johnston the most pointless selection for a match in India. At least they didnt repeat the worst selection of all time - X Doherty, the worst average of any first class spinner (44) to play in a test match. Lyon's average against India is a lot better than Warne's (33 vs 47!!), although they didnt doctor the wickets as much and Warne had better pacemen to compete for wickets against.

  • S on March 26, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    Wade makes Dhoni look like a good wicketkeeper. Wonder how many more wickets Lyon would have taken this series if Haddin was keeping instead of Wade.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    India lost to England but demolished Austalia on pitches which were more or less the same. Mainly because India got rid of Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj - the trio who played against England. Had Indian retained these players, Australia would have won comfortably and the Australian fans would have gone gaga over their Dohertys and Maxwells. (Another reason is: Pujara. Gambhir ran a solid-looking Pujara out in Kolkata test against England. If Pujara had stayed, the series against would have got saved.)

  • Mark on March 25, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    @ reddawn1975 - You are a bit harsh with the axe wielding I think. Did you watch any of the games, or are you basing your decisions on what you have been reading?

    Maxwell and Doherty are rubbish and should never have been picked for a test squad in the first place.

    But Smith was our best batsman of the series, apart from Clarke.

    Cowan was the 2nd highest run scorer. Was the most determined and faced the most amount of balls.

    Hughes is a poor player of spin, but I don't think you can question his talent and determination.

    Wade is a poor player of spin and I'm not convinced he's better with the gloves than Haddin or Paine (who are also both better batsmen IMO), so I would probably agree with you there.

    But the man who I most want to see out of the team is Watson. More than 2 years without a century. The only 2 in the squad who he did better with the bat than, are Johnson and Maxwell. All the other bowlers outdid him. Even at his best he couldn't couldn't convert a start.

  • Mark on March 25, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    @ DavidR - I don't think the results in India prove anything about how good Australia are compared to the Poms, other than that the Poms have better spinners and are better in Indian conditions.

    We were never going to win in India with the team we had. O'Keefe should have been there instead of Doherty. Better first-class bowler, better batsman and better fielder. Wonder which selector he has annoyed? Doherty is a limited overs specialist, like Maxwell, and should never have been in India.

    Wade is a horrible player of spin and should have only been there as backup to Haddin.

    Smith, one of the countries better players of spin, should have been used sooner and Khawaja should have been given a go.

    Watson should stick to limited overs cricket. He's not a test standard batsman. Would make a decent bowling allrounder if he could still bowl though.

  • Mark on March 25, 2013, 3:28 GMT

    @OhhhhhMattyMatty - I wouldn't say Australia are "so far behind South Africa its embarrassing" It was only a couple of months ago that Australia had a very tight series against SA. Australia dominated most of the first 2 matches, where SA were saved by a couple of very good innings from individual batsmen, before losing the 3rd test. Hardly the embarrassing gulf between the 2 teams you are talking about.

    Were Australia rubbish in India? Definitely.

    Does that mean that the team is rubbish? Not at all. We know that very few teams go to India and win. The scale of the loss was pretty bad, but not really unexpected.

    I will be reserving judgement on how good/bad the team is until after the ashes.

  • John on March 25, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    Mad Max also set a new standard which will be hard to beat: he was both the least accomplished opening bat AND the least accomplished opening bowler Australia has ever had, let alone in the same test. Was somebody playing an April Fool's Day joke a week early?

  • Lester on March 24, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    I don't know what to add about all this, its pathetic, cause i think we're better than this. but i think the most pathetic thing about it was the selectors. How does Maxwell get a chance? how did doherty? Watson needed/needs to go. i'm having doubts about wade as well, i think peter nevill should be considered for a keeper, hes a good keeper and just as good batsman as wade and younger than paine by a year or two. one thing i am pleased about is steve smith, he is looking so much better than 2 years ago its incredible, he needs a place in the ashes - with khawaja period. with those two, and a couple of changes at the top...dunno what, cause i think warner can make it, but im still not sure on cowan, and phil hughes should stay for the ashes at least, i still believe he's got a future. i just can't see watson in the team, khawaja, needs to be at 4, clarke 3 and someone else 5, smith 6 (or 5) then nevill 7 as wk.

  • Ashok on March 24, 2013, 21:27 GMT

    Bryden: Apologies for a couple of typos in my input which I wish to correct. Line 1 should read: "Firstly Lyon with 7 wkt. tally ----". On line 3 "scintilating" is missing "n".

  • Ashok on March 24, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    There were 3 stars on Day 3. Firstly, Lyons with & wkt. tally in the first innings revived the hopes of the Aussies in trying to win this match. But Jadeja dashed those hopes by helping to dismiss the OZ team cheaply for 168. Then it was Pujara who held one end up with a scitilating innings of 82 at a S/R of nearly 90! If Jadeja & Pujara had not responded so effectively this match was wide open. So these 2 turned the match in India's favour. But the most surprising play of the day was that 16 wkts. went down in a single day on a spinning wkt. which was difficult but not unplayable. Pujara showed his authority in a most dominant fashion as did Siddle by scoring another 50. India stamped its authority by outplaying the Aussies in all departments of the game on their home yard. If only Jadeja was in the XI along with the new openers, Vijay & Dhawan, India had a better chance of repeating what they did to the Aussies to the England side too. India has finally got a decent XI for SA tour.

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