The Indians have been shouting all summer "We'll give it back to them". As soon as Matthew Hayden was dismissed by Harbhajan Singh for a spectacular 82, both Harbhajan and Yuvraj Singh traded blows in the air mocking a boxing bout. Along with calling Harbhajan an "obnoxious weed", Hayden had invited the young and lanky Ishant Sharma to the boxing ring on a radio show. In boxing every small opening is decisive and the fact was not lost on the Indians. Harbhajan was the triumphant gladiator at the SCG, having also got Andrew Symonds, his other nemesis of the summer.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni never ceases to surprise. His instincts got him to get Piyush Chawla into the playing XI. And then he had Praveen Kumar, who has just played four games in his career, to open the bowling ahead of Ishant Sharma. Perhaps the strategy was to tempt the batsmen to go for their shots. Gilchrist duly obliged, mistiming a pull straight into the hands of Yuvraj at mid-on, and walked one last time out of the SCG, a venue where it all started for him. Ricky Ponting didn't last long either, going for his favourite pull but playing on instead. Kumar finished with respectable figures of 10-0-47-2.
Free-hit record holders
Brett Lee might hold the dubious record for giving away the most number of free hits. And Robin Uthappa might be the batsman to have been granted the most number of free hits. Last Sunday, at the same venue, Lee transgressed the popping crease thrice and Uthappa faced two of them. This Sunday, Uthappa got another opportunity to swing his bat freely but Lee fired in a full-length delivery that the Indian dug out without disturbing the card.
'I like my weed'
An Indian fan held atop his placard unabashedly in the Bradman Stand. Thankfully neither Cricket Australia nor the SCG Trust, the owners of the SCG, reprimanded him for that.
Michael Hussey's diving outfield take to remove Robin Uthappa was stunning and had the added impact of disrupting India's chase. Standing at deep square leg, Hussey had to run sideways knowing at some point he would need to lunge forward. He picked his moment precisely and got his fingers under the ball just in time. Hussey yelled as he ran to reach his jubilant team-mates while Uthappa seemed upset the decision didn't go to the third umpire. The result would have been the same.
Hayden turns on Pathan
Hayden had reached 18 from 27 balls and he decided to uncoil when Irfan Pathan arrived into the attack. In two overs Pathan was taken for 29, with three fours in each. Only one, an inside-edge to fine-leg, was unintended as Hayden worked Pathan either side of point with various degrees of power. The sixth boundary brought up his half-century and he celebrated with an upper-cut towards the dressing room. Brett Lee repeated the three-four trick off Pathan in the second-last over of Australia's innings.
Rudi Koertzen's strike-rate failed to improve and today's major error came when he gave Michael Clarke out caught-behind off his pad. Ishant Sharma's fierce offcutter moved so much it missed the inside edge and Koertzen was convinced by the loud appeal. Clarke flicked his pad as soon as he could and mouthed "not out" in an effort to persuade the umpire, but as soon as the decision came he left quickly with a shake of the head and an ironic smile. It wasn't Koertzen's worst judgment of the series. That came when Adam Gilchrist was lbw in Melbourne despite a significant edge.
At each ground there's been a "Warney's wing", with comfy rocking chairs and corporate hospitality, and today the legspinner made an appearance in his own area. Sitting in front of a sticker saying "La Z Boy", a hat-less Warne was comfortable and not in a hurry till he had to bowl an over mid-innings for a promotion for his children's charity.