Turning points November 11, 2008

Never give in

George Binoy looks back at the turning points of the India-Australia series

He's trapped: Amit Mishra get Michael Clarke in the final over of the day © Getty Images

Dhoni drops Hussey
India had just broken a 166-run partnership between Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting, and Michael Hussey was playing his first Test innings in India. Kumble bowled him a straighter one and Hussey prodded and got a thick edge. The ball bounced off Mahendra Singh Dhoni's thigh and fell short of first slip. Hussey, on 1 at the time, went on to score 146 in Australia's total of 430 in the first innings in Bangalore.

Zaheer and Harbhajan's 80-run partnership
Australia were three wickets away from gaining a massive lead in the first Test, having reduced India to 232 for 7. Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh defied the visitors late on the third day with aggressive strokes that cleared the infield. Harbhajan scored 54 and, after he was dismissed, Zaheer went on to make 57. They came together with India trailing by 198 runs but their partnership whittled the deficit down to 118 and the last few wickets reduced it further to 70. It denied Australia the leverage they needed to put pressure on India in the fourth innings.

Ganguly's let-off
India's brisk start to the second Test in Mohali was ruined by three wickets falling for 17 runs. The innings needed repair at 163 for 4 and Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly had just begun building a partnership. Ganguly was on 35, and India were 236, when Brad Haddin appealed for a stumping off Cameron White. Rudi Koertzen didn't refer it to the third umpire but replays showed that Ganguly's foot was just in the air. Ganguly went on to score 102 and shared partnerships of 142 with Tendulkar and 109 with Dhoni. India scored 469.

A debutant hero
Amit Mishra would not have played in this series had it not been for the shoulder injury to Anil Kumble. Mishra played his first Test in Mohali and ended up taking five wickets in the first innings and seven in the match. His most crucial strike came late on the second day, when he went round the wicket to Michael Clarke and trapped him lbw with the googly. The strike came in the final over of the day and was a severe dent to Australia's hopes.

Harbhajan's two half-centuries rescued India in tricky situations © AFP

Reverse swing
India set Australia a target of 516 in a little more than five sessions to win the Mohali Test. The chase was already in trouble after the loss of three quick wickets but Ishant Sharma struck a body blow late on the fourth day. During a searing spell in which he got the ball to move late, Ishant swung one delivery through Ricky Ponting's bat-pad gap and hit the stumps. A few overs later he pinned Shane Watson on the back foot leaving Australia on 58 for 5 and with no hope of saving the Test.

The two double-centurions
Australia's bowlers had struck early in the third Test in Delhi, reducing India to 27 for 2. Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar consolidated but when Australia struck again India had reached only 157. The passage of play that stretched across the 72.1 overs, however, ensured that Australia would not win the match. VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir both scored double-centuries and their partnership of 278 took India towards their total of 613.

Dropped. Not once but thrice.
Australia were 350 for 4 on the fourth morning in Delhi, still trailing India by 263 runs. Clarke was batting on 21 and Watson on 14. India needed quick wickets to gain a substantial lead which they could build on in the second innings. Clarke obliged, lofting Mishra hard and flat towards mid-off. The catch flew to Ishant at head height but he couldn't hold on. Clarke gave India two more chances on 90 and 94 but Laxman and Mishra dropped them. He went on to score 112 and helped Australia save the Test.

India lost their last five wickets for 19 runs and collapsed for 441 in the final Test in Nagpur when they looked good for 600 at one stage. They lost further ground when Australia's batsmen attacked and scored at nearly four runs an over to reach 189 for 2 at the end of the second day. India brainstormed overnight and came out with a plan to slow Australia down. Dhoni placed eight fielders on the off side and instructed his fast bowlers to bowl wide outside off stump. Australia were suffocated and scored only 42, 49 and 75 in three sessions on the third day. They also lost eight wickets and conceded a first-innings lead of 86.

Dhoni and Harbhajan to the rescue
India had an 86-run lead in Nagpur and only a disastrous collapse in the second innings could give Australia an opportunity to win the Test and level the series. India's openers added 116 runs on the fourth day, extending the lead to 202 with ten wickets intact. The series was virtually won. A stunning collapse ensued, during which India lost six wickets for 50 runs. Suddenly India were only 252 ahead with four wickets in hand. They were handed a lifeline by Ponting who bowled a part-timer from one end after tea in order to make up for a slow over-rate. Dhoni and Harbhajan took advantage of the release of pressure and began scoring freely. Australia struggled to contain them and they added 108 runs for the seventh wicket and succeeded in posting a target which was out of Australia's reach.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo