The first Test between India and Australia at Chennai continued to hang in the balance, after day two saw the hosts finish the day still 198 runs behind. At the MA Chidambaram Stadium, the day see-sawed as first India bowled out Australia in the first session and then the latter struck quick blows. Ultimately it was left to Sachin Tendulkar to play the rescue act for the Indian batting.
The Master Blaster, suffering from a poor run of scores against England in the previous Test series, lay off all ghosts and came out to bat in a positive frame of mind. That happened after India were reduced to 12 for two as James Pattinson first clean-bowled Murali Vijay (10) and then shortly afterwards Virender Sehwag (2) played-on in comic fashion. Cheteshwar Pujara and Tendulkar came together thereafter to stitch a 93-run partnership for the third wicket, one that saved India from further embarrassment.
Tendulkar started in a hurry, picking three boundaries off his first four balls. It seemed a completely different mindset from what was witnessed against England. He seemed in complete control on a pitch that was wearing down quickly and was exhibiting variable bounce at different intervals. On the other end, Pujara too was playing confidently, mixing singles and doubles with the odd boundary and keeping the score-card ticking. India went to tea at 84 for two.
The world’s top Test run-getter brought up his half century shortly afterwards as India crossed the 100-run mark in the 27th over, but lost Pujara en-route. The batsman was late on a Pattinson-delivery that kept a tad low and as a result crashed into his stumps, with Australia striking against the run of play. He made 44 runs, with six fours. Then, Virat Kohli came out to bat and strung together 77 runs for the fourth wicket with Tendulkar. India went to stumps at 182 for five, still 198 runs adrift of the Aussie first innings’ score.
Tendulkar was unbeaten on 71, off 128 balls, with six hits to the fence. Kohli too completed his half-century ahead of close of play, and was not out on 50 off 84 balls, inclusive of seven fours. Pattinson was the only successful bowler for the visitors with figures of three for 25 from only six overs.
Earlier, in an extended first session, India finished off the Australian tail, ending their first innings at 380. Michael Clarke and Peter Siddle began from the overnight score of 316 for seven, and added another 45 runs before the hosts could sniff a wicket. In fact, it was the worst passage of play in the entire day, as the Indians let the game drift away, just as they have done in the recent past.
Clarke was finally out for a brilliant 130, inclusive of twelve fours and one six, and his dismissal finally gave the Indians a shoe-in. He was out caught in the deep off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja (two for 71) while Siddle (19) was snapped up by Harbhajan Singh (one for 81), his first wicket in this 100th Test for him. R Ashwin (seven for 103) added another to his tally as he sent back Nathan Lyon (3).
Select quotes from the day:
Cheteshwar Pujara, on his dismissal and partnership with Sachin Tendulkar: "I didn’t expect to get out in the manner I did. I was quite set at the crease and things were going smoothly for us. The ball I got out to, kept a little low. In fact I lost it and as a result was into the shot. The Aussies’ pace isn’t a problem, but there is variable bounce in the pitch.
Sachin batted very positively and I haven’t seen him in such a good positive mindset. He was batting well in the nets during the England series, but the runs didn’t come in the middle. It is not that he changed anything as such."
James Pattinson, on his spell and the match ahead: "The plan was for me to bowl in short spells and provide breakthroughs, and that’s what happened. Maybe I could have bowled again in the last hour but Mitchell Starc was bowling well and the captain chose to go with him. We are still 200 runs ahead and we need just two more wickets to get to Jadeja-Ashwin, so that will be on the agenda in the morning.
Sachin is a great batsman, ahead of any other. He has so much time to play his shots. I had planned to bowl short to him when he came to the crease, but I changed that at the last minute. But I think I should have been more aggressive to him. So hopefully he has had his fun and we will get him early tomorrow."
© Cricket World 2013
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