Hussey keeps Australians afloat
The Australian machine continued to splutter for the second day in Hyderabad. If Jason Krejza had a nightmarish first day, the Australian batsmen, led by Ricky Ponting, stumbled on more problems today. Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin, however, stitched together an unbroken 63-run partnership to ensure the Indians didn't have it too easy.
The tale of the day was best captured by Ponting's struggles against legspinner Piyush Chawla in the second session. It got off to a familiar start: crease-bound, he pushed out his bat tentatively. He picked the googlies dangerously late, mistook the sliders for legbreaks and, as a result, often played with the bat facing cover and saw the ball rolling away off the inside edge.
Chawla offered Ponting a brief respite with a long-hop and an over-pitched delivery, which were hit for fours, but won the battle with a fizzing googly that found the yawning gap between bat and pad. Ponting had lunged forward to play for the legspin but lost his middle stump.
Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin, who used his feet well to counter the spinners, stitched together an unbroken 63-run partnership to ensure the Indians didn't have it too easy but the rest of the top order didn't fare well. Manpreet Gony's accuracy and subtle movement troubled Hayden, who is coming out of an injury break. He searched for the ball twice outside off and was hit on the pad by one that came back into the left-hander. Irfan Pathan too had a close lbw shout against Hayden when he got one to straighten on off stump and had the batsman playing around his front pad. However, he got his man in the next over when he curved a delivery past Hayden and got a faint edge.
The visitors' troubles continued after the fast bowlers gave way to the spinners. Surprisingly, it involved two men who are generally good players of spin. Katich was surprised by the fuller trajectory from Pragyan Ojha and lunged forward to offer a bat-pad catch to Virat Kohli at short leg. Michael Clark pushed his bat outside the line and was trapped in front by a leg break that turned slightly from the leg-and-middle line.
The Australians had a marginally better morning session. They tried to work on their reverse swing by not taking the new ball till the 105th over - the 16th of the second day. Lee, in particular, got the ball to move and one delivery to Pathan stood out: bowling from over the wicket, he curved the ball sharply from middle and off towards leg and hit Pathan on the pad. Pathan, however, used a simple technique to offer stiff resistance. He tried not to get the front leg in the way of the ball even if it meant playing away from his body.
The wagon wheel was also revealing: most of the runs in the session came behind square on both sides. The innings ended in hurry once the new ball was taken but the joy was shortlived for the visitors. By the end of the day, they were left licking their old wounds against spin in Indian conditions.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo