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IND vs Aus 2nd Test Day 3: Tailenders Give Australia The Edge

By on December 19, 2014

India 408 and 1 for 71 trail Australia 505 (Smith 133, Johnson 88) by 26 runs…

A 148-run seventh-wicket stand between Smith and Johnson pegged India back.

One of India’s perennial struggles overseas in the past one year – inability to dismiss the tail – came back to haunt them on Friday at the Gabba. After having Australia precariously placed at 247 for 6 at one stage, India allowed the game to drift as the final four wickets added 258 runs to give Australia an advantage in the second Test in Brisbane.

At stumps on day three, India limited the damage somewhat with the score reading 71 for the loss of Murali Vijay’s wicket after 23 overs. Shikhar Dhawan (26) and Cheteshwar Pujara (15) showed good defensive skills to ensure Australia made no further inroads.

IND vs Aus 2nd Test Day 3: Steven Smith

Staring at a 97-run deficit, the Indian openers stared positively with Vijay looking in good touch. The in-form right-hander looked comfortable in the crease, keeping Mitchell Johnson, who was high on confidence after hitting a crucial 88 earlier in the day, at bay. India’s first boundary came in the fifth over when Vijay drove Johnson on the up over cover for four.

Next ball, he sliced one through point for another boundary. Just when the opening pair was looking settled, Mitchell Starc, another one of Australia’s heroes with the bat, got one to angle across from Vijay, who not knowing whether to play it or leave it, chopped the ball onto the stumps in the 11th over.

Vijay made 23 and could not improve his record in the second innings of a Test – which states his average at 27.59 as compared to a more assured 49.03 in the first innings.

With India one down for 41 and still 56 runs away to wipe off the deficit, Pujara and Dhawan needed to dig in and they did that. Dhawan, especially showed resolve not to waft at balls outside the off stump.

He was comfortable against anything on the pads and moved away from the line of the ball with ease whenever a short-pitched delivery was hurled at him. Pujara, like Dhawan, eager for a big innings, dead batted most balls after having initial jitters against the ball that left him. The right-hander was more inclined to taking singles and turning the strike over.

Shane Watson, who bowled 14.4 in the first innings while the usual fourth seamer Mitchell Marsh was dubbed unfit to bowl due to injury, was the most penetrative of the Australian bowlers in the second innings with nagging figures of 5-3-6-0. He beat Dhawan twice outside the offstump and got one to swing away from Pujara. Nathan Lyon, who has had success over the Indian batsmen, taking 15 wickets in three innings in this series, was not used by skipper Steven Smith.

Earlier, Australia came back in contention into the game thanks to a rearguard 148-run seventh-wicket stand between Smith (133) and Johnson (88). Johnson, who came into bat after Mitchell Marsh was bowled by Ishant Sharma and Brad Haddin was out caught fending to short-leg, was greeted by a barrage of short balls from India but the ploy failed miserably.

There were no fielders in the deep square leg region for the impulsive hook, nor there was a third man stationed. The result was that Johnson raced along to 42 from 35 balls and Australia’s deficit, which at one stage looked huge, was brought down to under a 100 in almost no time.

Riding on his free-flowing thunderous drives, cuts and flat-batted pulls, Johnson recorded his 10th Test fifty and second successive at the Gabba. “Johnson was very positive. The Indian bowlers bowled too short and he took them on. It was great to see the way how he went after the Indian bowlers,” Smith said after the day’s play.

Smith, on the other hand, looked his usual self, unruffled and measured at the start and then, after watching Johnson attack the bowling from the other end, accumulated runs at will. Riding on his 13 fours and two hits over the fence, Smith collected his fourth hundred this year and fifth in 10 Tests. In the second session, India started bowling full to Johnson, something that they failed to do in the first session.

Johnson was the first to go in the post-lunch session, chasing a full and wide one from Ishant, giving Dhoni a regulation catch behind the stumps in the 88th over. In the same over, Smith was bowled by Ishant, inside edging an incoming delivery. That ensured Smith was dismissed for the first time in the series after unbeaten knocks of 162 and 52 in Adelaide.

At that time Australia trailed by 10 and little did they know that numbers 9, 10 and 11 will add 105 runs among them. Starc, having seen the successful aggressive approach of Johnson, matched him shot for shot as Australia raced into the lead.

His partner Lyon did not look troubled by the short balls ditched at him. He used the sweep to good effect to nullify Ashwin. He fell to Aaron for 23, failing to clear mid-on where Rohit Sharma took the catch.

In came debutant Hazlewood, another tall left-hander, and the more he batted, the more he did not look like a No 11. Where Starc took a backseat in terms of run scoring, Hazlewood showed tight defensive techniques to keep the fast bowlers and Ashwin at bay.

Soon, he hit back-to-back fours off Ishant and Ashwin in successive overs and India’s frustration went to another level. Starc completed his fourth fifty, in just 53 balls just before time was called for tea. Four balls into the final session, Starc was the last man out, bowled by Ashwin for 52. Hazlewood was unbeaten on 32.

With two days to go and a 26-run deficit, it all depends on the way the first session on the fourth day pans out. For India to take the advantage, they will have to score quickly and not loose wickets quickly. However, early wickets for Australia could further push India on the backfoot.

Source: gocricket

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