15 Minutes of Madness Swings Game Dramatically in India’s Direction
At five o’clock, Australia were sitting handsomely on 3/205 as their captain and debutant stodgy opening batsman looked untroubled and likely to seal a dominant day for the baggy green in front of 70,000 festive revellers.
By quarter past five, the game had irrefutably swung in India’s direction as three wickets fell in quick succession.
First to go was Michael Clarke (34) who was done by the old one-two from Zaheer Khan. His first delivery pitched just outside off, swung further away and beat his outside edge. Khan’s next delivery offered more width but swung back in cramping Clarke who could only chop on to his stumps.
The next ball Khan bent his back to surprise Mike Hussey. The bouncer was sharp at 135kmph compared with Zaheer’s slow morning standards and appeared to catch the glove of Mr. Cricket through to MS Dhoni. The appeal was emphatic. And Umpire Erasmus’s finger went up despite replays and the not-in-use UDRS showing he’d missed the ball by some distance.
Right off the back of his worst two Test series in his career, Hussey’s run of bad luck continues. Since January 2008, he has as many ducks (12) as the world XI number XI batsman Chris Martin.
Third of the trio to go was the debutant Ed Cowan. The naturalized Tasmanian, who took up his spot opening the batting for Australia rather than sinking beers in the crowd for his mate’s Bucks Party as originally planned, had looked to bat out the entire day.
He made the bowlers come to him and batting at his own pace with a composure Philip Hughes could only dream of. Testament to his temperament were the two periods of 34 minutes he went scoreless. Any other batsman in the current setup would not have been able to keep as level a head. 14 off 61 balls at lunch, 50 off 120 balls and 68 off 177 when he eventually fell are a perfect example of how to occupy the crease and accumulate for a big innings.
Tireless Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin got Australia’s unlikely danger man with his first genuinely good delivery of the day. Cowan tried to force it on the back foot but the ball turned and bounced appearing to catch the edge of the bat through to the keeper.
Umpire Erasmus raised his finger immediately but Cowan didn’t look too impressed. The not-in-use UDRS technology proved inconclusive with no hotspot or snicko evident. On the live audio feed there was definitely a sound as Cowan played away from his body.
The UDRS debate could rear its ugly head yet again.
Previously at the MCG
Earlier in the day Australian skipper Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bat despite massive storms in Melbourne the day prior and the dreary and ominous looking overhead conditions.
David Warner started the morning session positively making a chanceless 37 off 49 balls before the constant Melbourne drizzle forced the players off. Melbourne’s reputation for four seasons in a day was then evident as the drizzle stopped as soon as the covers were on.
First ball after the short rain break Umesh Yadav cramped Warner with a bouncer only for him to glove it to a relieved MS Dhoni. Yadav would then claim the wicket of Shaun Marsh, fresh from his scorching 99 not out in the Big Bash lead. An inviting length drew Marsh into the shot and he fell for a duck caught at backward point by Virat Kohli.
Australia were 2/67 at lunch, as more drizzle came down throughout the break. Honours even.
The afternoon session, once it kicked out, belonged emphatically to Australia. Ponting and Cowan batted in tandem for a partnership of 113. Ricky Ponting’s 62 was his most authoritative knock for a year or more. He too fell to the at-times-brilliant Yadav.
After Michael Clarke and Ed Cowan put on 46 for the fourth wicket, it was Zaheer Khan who took centre stage, reminding the world of his mastery at bowling the older ball.
Yet Another Swing or Maybe Even a See-Saw
Whilst the game had swung most definitely in India’s favour by 5:15, Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle had other ideas about the possibility of yet another all-too-often Australian collapse putting on an unbeaten 63 for the seventh wicket.
Sure they had a bit of luck as Khan had Haddin plumb lbw, but the Sun shines on the righteous as play ends at 6:50pm to glorious sunshine at the MCG.
It’s all to play for on day 2.
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