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India vs Australia Test 2, Day 1: Australia In Control After Bowlers Dominate Day One

By on January 3, 2012

Australia 3 for 116 (Clarke 47*, Ponting 44*, Zaheer 3-26) trail India 191 (Dhoni 57*, Pattinson 4-43, Hilfenhaus 3-51, Siddle 3-55) by 75 runs…

It may be a new year but India seem bent on going retro in a tribute to the 1990s, a period which saw their ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’ reputation travel with them. There was the inevitable sense of déjà vu as they were bowled out for a mere 191 soon after tea on Day one of the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Zaheer Khan did bring them back into the game with three wickets at the top of Australia’s order, but India again frittered away the opportunity provided by the early breakthroughs, enabling Australia to end the day at 116-3.

Top-order trouble

India yet again got off to a terrible start in the first session of a Test and lo behold this time too it stemmed from the top. Forget a noteworthy one, today there was no opening partnership at all. Gautam Gambhir flirted with a delivery outside the off stump and edged an easy catch to Michael Clarke in the very first over to give Australia an advantage straight away. This was after Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat on a pitch that looked like it was excellent for batting but had a tinge of green in it.

Gambhir hasn’t scored a Test century in nearly two years now and very clearly has a problem of playing away from his body that needs sorting out. After a spectacular 2007 and 2008, his form has slowly deteriorated with the past six months being completely forgettable. He missed the tour to the Caribbean courtesy a shoulder injury and thereafter has averaged just 22 from 14 innings. If you look at the 5 Tests he has played for India away from home during this period – his average drops to paltry 13.

With Gambhir gone, the middle order caved into the pressure exerted by some fantastic bowling from the pace trio – Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus. Dravid couldn’t replicate his good form from 2011 and and offered an inside edge straight to short leg. Sehwag lived a customary dangerous life before lack of footwork saw him help an edge on its way to the keeper. Laxman’s woeful run in his once favourite haunt continued with another cheap dismissal – Pattinson tricking him into driving a full delivery that took a thick edge to third slip. Kohli meanwhile wasted another opportunity to make the number 6 slot his own.

Minor recovery

In contrast to the rest of the top order, Sachin Tendulkar looked comfortable at the crease. The master blaster has been in supreme form, even though he hasn’t been able to cross that elusive three-figure mark. This time too he gave away a solid start, when he was bowled by an inside edge onto his stumps, giving Pattinson his fourth wicket of the day.

Skipper Dhoni came in and put on valuable runs with Ashwin before the rest of the tail folded leaving him stranded on 57 not out. Credit for India getting close to the 200-run mark also has to be given to some defensive tactics by Aussie skipper Michael Clarke. He let up the pressure by bringing in spinner Nathon Lyon from one end and spreading the field.

Australia’s reply

The momentum was with the Aussies as David Warner and Ed Cowan came onto the field to take strike. Warner threatened to explode with two sweetly timed boundaries in over number one but Zaheer made an immediate comeback, proving just how important it is to have him fit and in the side. Zaheer bowled a fuller length off the last ball of the first over to lure Warner into edging it into the slips. The first delivery of his next over got an edge from Shaun Marsh and opener Cowan went a few overs later trapped lbw.

The joy for India’s fans was shortlived. Dhoni didn’t have nerve to persist with an attacking field and Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting wasted no time in getting stuck into the rest of the bowling. Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Ashwin all going for over 5 runs an over. Australia ended the day trailing by just 75 runs courtesy a 79-run partnership between the current skipper and his predecessor – both looking in the mood to pile on the misery on Day two.

Source: Yahoo Cricket

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