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Monday, March 4, 2013

Test Cricket: India Poised To Go Up 2-0 Against Australia!



India continued to dominate Australia in the four-match cricket Test Series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to be in a position to go up 2-0 on the third day of the second Test in Hyderabad today. At close of play Australia reeling under Indian spin were 74 for 2 still needing 192 more runs to avoid an innings defeat. Earlier after a record breaking partnership of 370 runs between Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara the Australian agony lessened considerably as India folded up quickly for 503 runs losing the last six wickets for only 43 runs. At the moment the speculation going around is that of the margin of Australian capitulation—an innings defeat or by some number of wickets. Barring a dramatic batting recovery it would be extremely difficult for Australia to prevent India taking an invincible lead in this Series.

Yesterday had been a tremendous day for Indian cricket as the much talked about Indian batting matched the reputation with an incredible display all through the day except for the early dismissal of Sehwag—a continuing disaster in the opening slot. Two young newcomers Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara batted on and on remaining unbeaten on the second day yesterday taking India from 17/1 to 311/1 both achieving brilliant hundreds. On the third day today too they continued in full flow with Pujara completing his double hundred and Vijay becoming the first wicket to fall for a massive 167. Pujara could not last long after the milestone and fell for 204 superlative runs. They broke several records in the process—the biggest second wicket partnership for the country and the country’s fourth biggest partnership overall. After the spectacle in batting except for Dhoni who made a quick fire 44 in 43 balls other batsmen could not capitalize, but India raced to a massive lead of 266 runs.

This time in Hyderabad Australia got a pitch with some pace and bounce, but their batmen could not tackle either Indian pace or spin falling in heaps making a pathetic total of 237/9 after electing to bat first. The innings was lackluster except for a sterling innings of 91 from captain Michael Clarke. There was some drama in the end when Clarke declared the innings at 237/9 leaving India to bat only three overs. There was noting wrong in that gamble as he must have sensed the bounce in the pitch and hoped to capture a couple of Indian wickets. Nothing of that sort happened though. Australian bowlers too failed to fire up in both pace and spin despite a better pitch than the last in Chennai. Their spinners became productive only in the later part of the Indian innings today, but that increased only their worries and increased the appetite of the Indian spinners. With Ravindran Ashwin capturing both the wickets to fall today the ominous spinning signs were already showing up. The Scorecard:

Indian batting always boasted of individual brilliance rather than an all-round team effort and that showed in these two Tests too. India won the Chennai Test by 8 wickets thanks mainly to the incredible Dhoni double, hundred by Kohli and a good knock from Tendulkar. In this Test we have already seen who the individuals are. One only wonders what happens when all Indian batsmen deliver simultaneously.

This India Vs Australia Series is doing immense good for MS Dhoni. He became the first highest scoring (224) Test wicket keeper in India, the fourth Indian captain to score a double ton after Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and MAK Pataudii the highest scoring Indian captain against Australia and the highest scoring keeper-captain of the world after overcoming Englishman Alec Stewart’s 164. His troubles seem to be over at last with the cricket extravaganza called the IPL beckoning round the corner.
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