Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/brett-mckay/2012/1/14/underwhelming-india

Brett McKay

Underwhelming India

14 January 2012

After the pulsating display David Warner put on in the evening session on Day 1, there was always a chance that events on Day 2 would pale into insignificance.

After the pulsating display David Warner put on in the evening session on Day 1, there was always a chance that events on Day 2 would pale into insignificance.

Australia still managed to add 107 in the morning session, and Umesh Yadav even managed to take three wickets, India’s first breakthroughs in 3 ½ days of Test cricket since Ricky Ponting fell before Tea on Day 2 in Sydney.

However, despite all that, the morning just had that ‘ho, hum’ feel about it.  

Perhaps that’s the price you pay when a Test suddenly rocks toward one side like this one has already.

Fresh from racking up the equal fourth-fastest Test century, Warner added another 52 to his overnight score before lunch from a comparatively glacial 56 balls.  

It was almost as if he was still asleep!

Again, India were disappointing in the field, as they have been all series, if we’re honest.  

Warner should have been out on 126, when Virat Kohli dropped a regulation edge off Zaheer Khan.  

The catch should’ve been held, it wasn’t difficult, but it was never Kohli’s catch, given he had to dive toward wicketkeeper and Indian Captain, MS Dhoni.  

Dhoni knew it, too, but as seemed the case for India’s last two bowling innings, his enthusiasm in the field has been poor.

Despite India’s lacking efforts in the field, Yadav jolted them from their slumber when he came on, removing Ed Cowan for 74, Shaun Marsh for 11, and Ponting for 7 in the space of four overs as Australia lost 3/28 before the lunch break.

Warner reloaded and launched another assault on the Indian bowlers after lunch, and there appeared to be no limits on what score he might finish with when put Zaheer Khan over cover onto the western concourse from one knee.

Whether it was back soreness or fatigue - both possibly from swinging himself off his feet - he ultimately fell for 180 to Ishant Sharma, after holing out at long off.  

By this stage, Warner had contributed more than 60 per cent  of Australia’s runs.

Worryingly, and as has often happened this summer, the middle and lower order couldn’t hold it together.  

Australia lost its last seven wickets for 79, to be all out 369, and holding a handy, but not unreachable lead of 208.

In the middle of those seven wickets was one player who could least afford another poor showing.

After questioning India’s mental fragility, and suggesting, “they break quicker than anyone in world cricket” in the build-up to the Test, Brad Haddin really needed a score of note when he came to the wicket at 5/301.

With pressure for his spot mounting, and with a batting average sliding further by the innings, the last thing he needed was yet another cheap dismissal.

He lasted three balls.

Zaheer Khan’s two-handed blown kiss is now a runaway leader for the summer’s best send off.

Yadav was the chief destroyer for India in the end, finishing with 5/93 from 17 overs, his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests.  And like clockwork, Zaheer chimed in for his standard couple of wickets around the 60th over.

But, as so often happens at the WACA, things started happening after Tea.

Gautum Gambhir and Virender Sehwag had worked their way through the always-tough initial period.  

Neither had taken any real risks, but nor did either of them look overly set.  

The new ball was still moving in the air and off the seam, and the WACA bounce was still a major factor.

Mitchell Starc comes on first change, bangs his second ball in short and drags Gambhir into a following a ball that is leaving him, catching a bit of thumb and bat handle as it pops out to Mike Hussey in the gully.  

It was a brute of a delivery from the young leftie, and a timely breakthrough. 

The very next over, Peter Siddle nicks off Sehwag, with Haddin accepting the regulation catch to his right.  

Sehwag’s summer has taken on El Nino appearances, and while ever his feet refuse to move, he’s a chance of going cheaply on seaming wickets in Australia.

Sachin Tendulkar walked in to bat to his sixth consecutive standing ovation, but 16 balls later, he was gone too, LBW to Starc for just 8.  

Tendulkar wasn’t happy with the decision as he trudged off, and pundits quickly got their hopes up that this would surely be the dud decision that drags India into begrudgingly adopting the DRS system.

Alas, the replays and projections showed leg stump would still have been taken, and as much as Tendulkar shook his head (which was a lot), he was still out.

But the bigger issue, for both Cricket Australia’s accountants and pay-per-day writers, was that suddenly this Test was no certainty to see a third day.  

When VVS Laxman went for a duck three overs later, collective hearts sank even further.

Fortunately, I’m happy to say I’ll have more for you tomorrow.  

Rahul Dravid and Kohli dug in as required, and even added a crucial 37 for the fifth wicket as India made it to Stumps at 4/88, still needing another 120 runs to make Australia bat again.

I seem to have said it a lot this summer, but again, the first hour on Day 3 will be the key.  

Fourth day ticket-holders will be sweating on Dravid and Kohli going on with it, and frankly, they’ll need to.

A massive WACA humiliation is coming India’s way if they don’t.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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