Blues of the day
The ICC has come down hard on what they call the "comfort breaks", which means the random breaks players take when they get tired, and get a fresh substitute on for that while. Rudi Koertzen was alert to it when Simon Katich wanted to go for one such break during the first session today. As a result Katich decided against taking that breather because that would have meant only 10 men on the field. Something similar happened during the Bangalore Test when Michael Clarke bowled one over with 10 men on the field: Ponting had gone for a break then.
Brett Lee has taken quite well to Mohali. He has learnt a bit of the language - he is quite impressive at that - and he also calls the PCA Stadium his other home ground, considering he plays for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. But he had a rather forgettable day on the field today. He looked innocuous to Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, was lucky in getting Rahul Dravid's wicket, his only success of the day, ending with 1 for 56 off 18 overs.
It's time for Sachin Tendulkar to join the Australian media in complaining about Sourav Ganguly's delaying tactics. He doesn't quite discriminate. While the whole nation waited, and a sparse crowd at the stadium as well, Tendulkar was five runs short, with about eight minutes to go to for the tea break. He took a single off the first ball, and watched Ganguly get the sightscreen adjusted, and then pull out of the second delivery of the over. That ended the possibility of getting in an extra over before tea, and Ganguly blocked the rest of the over out. In the next over, Tendulkar managed another single, and went off to spend 20 more minutes as the second-highest run-getter in the world.
The PCA contributed to the delay, too, but only after Tendulkar got to the record. It set off fireworks in celebration, during the day, would you believe it? There was nothing but smoke and noise for three minutes. Play, obviously, was held up all that while.
Michael Clarke has long been a bowling thorn in the fleshy Indian batting's thorn. So when Australia had a barren first session, they wanted to see if he could work some magic in the last over before lunch. Gautam Gambhir, on 42 when the over started, had other ideas. He stepped out twice and lofted Clarke for two boundaries in the over and reached his half-century before the break. So much for the golden arm.
When you are a pace bowler, you don't want the first ball you bowl in Test cricket to stay low. But for Peter Siddle, it sort of clicked. He dug in his first delivery short and Gambhir ducked into it a second too soon just to have the ball stay low and hit him flush in the helmet. It was an unsettling blow, in the second over of the innings, but Gambhir came back well from it.
How frustrating is it to edge an innocuous ball, going down the leg side, minding its own business? How frustrating is it for a team to do it twice in one day, to the same bowler? India did that today when Sehwag, and VVS Laxman gifted Mitchell Johnson their wickets after looking good in the middle.
Late in the day, Cameron White beat Ganguly with a topspinner, and seemed to have dragged him out as well. Brad Haddin whipped the bails, but Koertzen thought Ganguly was back in time, and didn't go the third umpire. Replays showed Ganguly's back foot was still in the air when the bails were removed, and memories of a certain Andrew Symonds and Steve Bucknor came to mind. Ganguly was 35, then; what fun it will be if he goes on to score 150?
Under-rated milestone blues
When Ganguly square-drove Johnson for a couple at around 3.46pm, he crossed the 7000-run mark. He didn't raise his bat after that, neither did he take his helmet off. Ricky Ponting didn't rush madly towards him to shake his hand, and neither did the PCA set off invisible fireworks. What a shame.