Matthew Hayden and Virender Sehwag are both openers who love to smash the ball. Their approaches to the crease, however, are remarkably different. Hayden charged out to bat, leaving Simon Katich a few paces behind, and did squats and stretches on his way to the pitch. Sehwag, on the other hand, prefers to amble and doesn't bother with stretching. His only activity before getting to the middle is loosening his arms by swinging them vigorously - like the hands of a clock in fast-forward mode - while holding his bat.
Brett Lee's opening over last evening was horrid. His first four balls to Gautam Gambhir swung down leg side. One of them was so wide that it evaded Brad Haddin's full-length dive and went for four byes. Lee's start this morning, however, was near perfect. His first ball of the day nearly landed in the blockhole and his second swung in from outside off to hit the left-hander plumb in front. It was a foreboding of what was to come for the Indians.
Will today be the day that he goes past Brian Lara? It's what everyone is asking when Sachin Tendulkar comes out to bat these days. Tendulkar needed 77 to break the record for most Test runs and he began promisingly by cutting Lee to the backward point boundary. However, he was done in by a slower ball from Mitchell Johnson, spooning a drive to short cover, after a similar stroke had fallen just short of fielder a few balls earlier.
Tendulkar's innings could have been cut short much earlier. He was at the non-strikers' end when Rahul Dravid pushed a ball towards cover. Tendulkar set off for the single but the sight of Michael Clarke, who was at point, covering ground quickly and swooping on the ball made Dravid decide against the run. Tendulkar was half-way down the pitch when Clarke picked up the ball and he had given up trying to get back to the bowler's end by the time Clarke transferred it to his left hand - his throwing hand. The throw, however, missed the stumps and Tendulkar looked up to the skies.
Tendulkar's wicket brought with it the customary stunned silence from the crowd but, a moments later, they began chanting "Dada, dada" in anticipation of Sourav Ganguly's penultimate innings at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The cries suddenly died down, however, as the batsman walking out at No. 5 was VVS Laxman.
The dominating characteristic of the pitch so far has been its awfully low bounce. Both Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Haddin have had to collect several balls and edges on the second bounce, sometimes even the third. So when Shane Watson pitched one short from around the stumps and got the ball to rise sharply it startled the crowd, and Ganguly. He took his eyes off the ball, and one hand off the bat and fended it awkwardly towards the off side.
Much has been said and written about India's fielding that it's only fair to point out a couple of Australian bloopers. Last evening Ricky Ponting attempted to pick up the ball with one hand but fumbled to allow the single. Today, Dhoni cut Cameron White towards cover where the fielder went down on one knee but failed to collect the ball, allowing another single. The culprit, once again, was Ponting.
Less than a half hour after tea, Ganguly had some eye trouble and called for the physio. As he lay on the field, the big screen replayed a minor collision he had with White during the afternoon session. The treatment took a few minutes and the Australians used it to relax and have a few drinks. When play resumed, however, Johnson was anything but relaxed. He pitched the first ball outside off stump and nipped it into Ganguly, hitting him on the pad. It might have been just outside the line but Asad Rauf gave Ganguly the opportunity to sort out any more difficulties in the dressing room.
Lee ran in with the second new ball and tried to bounce Harbhajan Singh. The ball sat up and the crisp sound of the pull shot excited the crowd as the ball sped to the midwicket boundary. Lee steamed in again and fired in a better bouncer. Harbhajan tried to hook but got a top edge over the wicketkeeper for four more. Harbhajan simply refuses to go quietly against the Australians, who must be quite sick at the sight of him.