Boxing Day Test In Balance
India recovered from their poor bowling performance on day two and repeated their consistency from day one under cloudy skies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday.
Australia finished the day at 261 for seven with a lead of 326 runs. This was after they had quickly bowled India out in their first innings for 465 runs in the morning session.
“Ishant bowled really well today. He did really well after the first innings wherein he also bowled well. But particularly today, after the rain break, he bowled three spells and he was bang on with all of them."
"We were expecting nicks but they were not easy to come as the carry is not good and we were standing up. The cloud cover aided zip off the wicket today and hopefully it won’t be there tomorrow,” said Ravichandran Ashwin who took 2-56.
Ishant Sharma (2-49) and Umesh Yadav (2-73) took two wickets on the day as well.
“My role didn’t change much. Because the wicket isn’t deteriorating too much, I needed to be a little more imaginative in terms of what I had to do in terms of taking wickets. I was trying to use my imagination, keep one end tight and work within my limits,” he added.
Shaun Marsh struck his second Test fifty and was unbeaten at the end of the play, with Ryan Harris keeping him company.
It is unclear if Australia will want to declare overnight, given how India batted at Adelaide and indeed the form of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane as seen in the first innings.
“We need a few more runs than what we have got on the board. Shaun Marsh is batting very well and Ryan Harris is still there, so we hope he can produce a knock like in the first innings. After that we will assess once we are all out,” said Warner on Monday.
“It’s still a very good batting wicket I think. The ball is coming on nicely and there is not much sideways movement though."
"As the ball gets older and softer there is a bit of reverse swing as you saw later today. That’s probably going to be the key when we start our day with the ball, to try and take ten opportunities. That’s the way we are going to try and win the game,” he added.
It goes to show that Australia are wary of the threat Indian batting poses, especially given that the wicket isn’t misbehaving much like the one in Brisbane or a lot like the one in Adelaide.
“We saw in the Adelaide how well they fought and luckily we got breakthroughs or it would have been a different story. They would have been 1-0 up. We know what their batting line-up is like."
"We saw how Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane put a great partnership together in the first innings. That’s there in the back of our minds. We know the positive brand of cricket they are playing now. When we have the opportunity then only we will try and take those ten wickets,” said the left-handed opener.
The match hangs in balance as rain washed out nearly 90 minutes after lunch. But the last two sessions were extended to allow overs to be completed as the radar showed clear weather for the remainder of the day.
It leaves 96 overs to be bowled on day five and all three results are possible. India, though will be desperate for they need to win to keep the series alive after losing in Adelaide and Brisbane.
“We don’t know exactly where this match is headed, but we are in a very positive frame of mind. You never know, maybe tomorrow morning we can get them out early or they can set a target for us. We are positive and we will take it as it goes and see what happens,” said Ashwin.
“Any score on the final day is going to be tricky. It’s a Test match and it tests every aspect of your game and attitude. It is going to be tough but we are up for it. We are here to win games and we will be positive and see where we can go,” he added.
Meanwhile the banter on the field doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The worst bit is that it has now stepped off the field as well with Kohli mentioning yesterday that he doesn’t respect all of the Australian team.
“That’s his opinion as he had got 160-odd runs. So let him say what he wants to say. Whether it’s the right thing to say or not, it’s up to him. There is a line you cannot cross and it is for the ICC to manage with their fines and warnings."
"When we talk about sledging and stuff, physical contact and verbal swearing is where we draw the line,” said Warner when told of Kohli’s remarks.
© Cricket World 2014