Brad Haddin scored 26 runs off 35 short balls bowled at him, playing an important role in a 110-run partnership for the sixth wicket that helped take Australia to a huge score from 5 for 216. The Indian team, though, believes their plan of continuing to bounce was spot on, and that Haddin can expect more of the same. The plan stems from Brisbane where he was caught fending in the first innings and hooking in the second. Most experts, however, reckon Haddin is more suspect to nicking outside off, that he generally plays the short ball well, and that his early dismissals in Brisbane were more an indication of his general form and not his weakness against the bouncer.
Here in Melbourne, Haddin found a way to overcome the Indian plan of bowling into his armpit from round the wicket with a long leg, a leg gully and a forward short leg in place. He kept moving, staying leg side of the ball, and kept pulling the tired Indian bowlers in front of square. India's plan meant Haddin had to mainly watch out for only his mode of dismissal, and not worry about nicking the ball. R Ashwin, though, doesn't think Haddin was comfortable out in the middle.
"Did he seem comfortable?" Ashwin shot back at the question. "Okay. If you say so. We really thought he had a genuine weakness over there. We continue to think he has a weakness over there. We will continue to target him in the next Test match as well. We will continue to target him next innings as well. He doesn't quite look that comfortable. That's the idea behind them."
That makes it twice in a row that India have lost the momentum in Tests by overdoing the short stuff. Mitchell Johnson laced them all over the Gabba and Australia didn't seem to mind it at all at the MCG.
"He played really well," their captain Steven Smith said. "Brad bats best when he comes out and tries to take on the opposition. He did that today. He came out and was very positive from ball one. I thought he played the short ball really well. He got underneath a few and played a few pull shots and I thought he played really well."
Ashwin was equally bullish about India's chances in the game. "We wanted to get them out pretty early," he said. "That was the plan. Unfortunately Smith batted very well. They got a bit too many runs for our liking. But if you look at the overall game, the score is pretty par for the game. The wicket seems slow and it is pretty flat. We'll take 110 for 1 and we'll like to pile on the runs tomorrow.
"I am not the one to basically look and comment at this game. But if you ask me, I will say only one thing: we'll make 650 and try and put them back in."
Ashwin has made a good comeback into the team, tying one end down to keep the quicks fresh. He reckons this might be some of his best bowling away from home: "The last two days have been hard work for me. I have put a real honest effort, put in whatever I have worked on to practice. I have been really disciplined in my skills. There have been better spells in patches, but this is probably the best overall performance."
However, Ashwin didn't get a bowl for more than 90 minutes on the second morning. Ninety minutes during which India failed to keep a lid on the scoring. "I am not one to stand next to him [MS Dhoni] in the slips and ask him for a bowl," he said. "The idea was to exploit the new ball as much as possible. This is what I think. I hope it stays that way.
"Not really [surprised]. I thought if we had a breakthrough I would come in handy against Johnson. I was prepared with my plans in place. I was pretty clear with what I was going to do."
Ashwin, though, didn't bowl for the first six overs of the Smith-Johnson partnership.