Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/brett-mckay/2012/1/25/deja-vus

Brett McKay

Deja vu in Adelaide

25 January 2012

If someone had turned on their telly without knowing the Fourth Test in Adelaide had started, they could easily have assumed they were watching highlights from Perth or Sydney.

If it wasn’t the sight of Australian Captain Michael Clarke and his predecessor, Ricky Ponting, in full flight that led to the false assumption, the strangely confusing Indian field settings would’ve done the trick.

Midway through the second session on Day 1 in Adelaide, stand-in Indian Captain, Virender Sehwag, had Ishant Sharma bowling to one of the more bizarre off-side fields I can remember.

For both Clarke and Ponting, Sehwag had no first slip, VVS Laxman at a wide-ish second slip, no gully, a backward point, cover, and mid-off to complete the ring.

At one point, Ponting played one the shots of his summer, getting up on his toes to drive through extra cover at above waist height.  

It was four straight off the bat, such an instinctively beautiful shot.

Not too long afterward, and to the same field, Clarke slashed at a wide one only to send the edge through the vacant first slip at catchable height.  

Laxman and the new Indian 'keeper Wriddhiman Saha could only look at each other and shrug.

It was a funny little period, only made funnier by the plan Sehwag had put in place for his bowler.  

Essentially, he was saying to Sharma, ‘forget making them drive’, and in an instant removed bowled, LBW, and caught behind the wicket as possible dismissals.

What’s more, in bowling shorter and wider outside off-stump, Sehwag was giving two of the better square of the wicket players in Australia buffet offerings to the shortest square boundaries in the country.

Later, he took Laxman out of the slips completely, as if it were the happy hour of a one-day game.

If there’s a positive to note here - and I’ll admit, it’s a long bow to draw - Sehwag was at least trying things.  

He showed in the fourth over of the Test, when he introduced off spinner Ravi Ashwin, he would try almost anything.

Which is great, but once again - as was the case in Melbourne and Sydney - all it really looked like to the casual and seasoned observer was India had again let Australia off the hook.

From 3/84 just before lunch, when Ashwin had Ed Cowan caught at short cover for a well-made 30, India should’ve been baying for blood.  

Ponting was on his way, but still vulnerable, and Clarke was new to the wicket. 

Instead, neither Ponting nor Clarke was overly troubled heading into sandwiches, and even less so when they resumed after the break.  

They were essentially untroubled for the rest of the day.

Another special moment for Ponting on Day 1 was a sweep to deep square off Ashwin to bring up his 13,000th Test Run, in his 162nd Test.  

In a nice piece of synergy, the two other members of the “13K Club” - Dravid and Tendulkar - led the Adelaide Oval ovation from on the field.

After Tea, it was more of the same.  

Sehwag kept bowling immediately on the resumption and Clarke promptly went down the wicket and bombed him over the Cathedral End boundary.

Ponting won the race to 100, with a square drive piercing the now closed-in field and racing away for four.  

Clarke raised his bat for his fifth century as Australian Captain, after deftly steering a shorter ball almost Tendulkar-style down through third man.  

As the Channel 9 commentators reminded us throughout the innings, it was his first hundred with his new sponsor, who I’m sure loved all the free publicity.

I had every intention of using the word ‘chanceless’ to describe both knocks, but just after the new ball was eventually taken, Clarke nicked Sharma wide of a diving Laxman, back at second slip, who put down the sharp chance.  

It was perhaps Clarke’s only blemish for the day.

Ponting was sublime though, this knock even better than his 134 in Sydney.  

All the instinctive shots of his pomp were on display, and you get the sense he’s in for a big one.

Australia will resume on a mammoth 3/335, with Clarke and Ponting both unbeaten on 140 n.o. and 137 n.o. respectively.  

The fourth wicket partnership between these two stands at 251, which is a new Adelaide Oval record in Australia-India Tests.  

If they can get through the first hour on Day 2, they’ll have passed the ground record partnership of 275 and their own Sydney stand of 288 by drinks.

335 (at 3.8 runs per over) is a profitable day in anyone’s language, even more so with only three wickets back in the shed, but it could have been so much more.  

Fatigue would have played a part on such a long, hot day, and things certainly slowed down from both sides in the last hour of the day.

A forecast top for Wednesday of 35°C means another hot day of toil for both sides, but India must dig deep to find something in the first hour.  

On a wicket that will only get better to bat on over the next few days, only early breakthroughs will stop another long day of chasing leather.

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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