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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cricket India Vs Australia: Mohali Test Could Still Go India’s Way!



Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay
The third cricket Test between India and Australia in Mohali for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2013 has been interesting for all possible reasons. First day washed out due to rains that really came out of the blue. Second day saw Australia starting a grim battle with their batsmen trying more to stick on to the job rather than launching themselves for a victory, because in the back of their mind they were probably aware of the fact that a full strength team is likely to be fielded for the fourth and last Test and therefore if they manage a draw here in Mohali they could still try all guns to make a respectable defeat margin of 2-1. Third day yesterday was a classic by all standards as Australia recovered from 273/5 to 408 all out thanks to a dogged partnership of 97 runs between Smith (92) and Starc (99) for the eighth wicket and the job for a draw was almost done. Famed Indian spinners succeeded in only depriving the duo of their deserving centuries, but could not capitalize. But then, the brand new Indian opening pair, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, had revolutionary ideas and they translated the ideas into action in the most spectacular way possible.


Shikhar Dhawan, technically he could have been out in the very first ball and was saved thanks to a rare act of generosity by the Kangaroos, went about his job in a most flamboyant manner with his bat masterfully combining aggression and precision. Shikhar waited ages to be selected for Team India in Tests and he wasted away a few chances in the one day internationals for Team India earlier. Now he capitalized on this Sehwag-send opportunity and played only cricket unmindful of the shortest, short or longer formats. He raced to his century in just 85 balls and finished the day remaining unbeaten at 185 in 168 balls with 33 fours and 2 sixes and a strike rate of 110. A debut that could happen only in the wildest of dream did happen—the fastest Test debut ever, the second highest world score by a left-handed debutant in Tests and also the second highest by an opener on Test debut ever. Shikahr brought India back to a winning position within four days neutralizing the Australian tactics. The overall scoring rate for India was nearly five an over for the day—so rare in the Test genre. His partner Vijay continued his defense-aggression balance perfectly like in the Hyderabad Test looking for loose balls to punish and remained not out on 83. With India at 283/0 at stumps on the third day an incredible 418 runs were scored.

Fourth day today was more similar to what normally happens to India with wickets falling in heaps. The debut-wonder boy could not last long and fell for 187 and in the very next over the new ‘wall’ and the star of the second Test Pujara was given out for LBW despite the inside edge. But Sachin Tendulkar took control of the proceedings and gave most valuable support to Murali Vijay who became the fifth Indian to score two back-to-back 150+ centuries. His partnership of 289 runs with Shikhar is the highest opening partnership involving a debutant in World Test cricket. Unfortunately after looking set for a long innings Tendulkar got out just before lunch with India at 384/3, still on for a huge first innings lead. Mitchell Starc with the new ball then struck two vital blows removing Vijay (153) and captain Dhoni (4) and the all familiar India collapse started. But for a determined Virat Kohli (67 not out) and a fighting Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (18) India could not have managed even the 91-run lead. Siddle doing the finishing off job with five for 71 India were all out for 499 runs—missing a great opportunity given by Vijay-Shikhar to build on the lead and finally it was again a story of individual brilliance and not total team effort. The depleted Australian bowling attack did a much better job today finding a lot of seam and swing. 

Michael Clarke Bogged Down!
Poor batting by Australia again revived the winning chance for the hosts. Warner, Cowan and Smith all fell to the seam and swing this time of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. To make things further worrisome for the visitors captain Michael Clarke aggravated his back that has been troubling him for years in the warm up practice this morning and was on and off the field during the day. He did not come out to bat today and luckily for Australia Hughes, up in the order, managed a half century to remain not out on 53 with night watchman Lyon on 4 giving him company. At 75/3 still trailing by 16 and Clarke not sure to bat tomorrow Australia could very well make it 3-0 for India. The Scorecard:

An interesting finish tomorrow would be a befitting finale for an absorbing and swinging four-day Test in Mohali.

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