Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/brett-mckay/2012/1/26/nothing-left-but-pride

Brett McKay

Nothing left but pride

26 January 2012

With the final Test of an already-confirmed series thrashing leaving only pride for India to play for, it never seemed so far away when Australia declared at 7/604 on Day 2 in Adelaide.

With the final Test of an already-confirmed series thrashing leaving only pride for India to play for, it never seemed so far away when Australia declared at 7/604 on Day 2 in Adelaide.

Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting picked up in the morning session as if they never stopped batting overnight, adding 134 for the session in 30 overs.

It really was like watching the evening session of Day 1 all over again.

Ponting hooked, pulled, and drove whatever India served up to him, and finally offered the first chance of his innings, when on 186 he uppishly drove straight back to Ishant Sharma, with Ponting’s former nemesis unable to hold the difficult chance.

Clarke reached his double century just before the lunch break, and it was hard to see how he’d get out.  

When he did get out to the third delivery after lunch, for 210, I can only assume he fell victim to the impressive Adelaide Oval Test Match lunch.  

A Umesh Yadav delivery snuck between bat and pad, and then ricocheted onto his off-stump, leaving the crowd somewhat stunned.

With a trademark pull shot shortly after, Ricky Ponting reached his sixth Test double-hundred, and ultimately finished on 226, his third highest Test score.  

Coincidently, it comes on the same ground and against the same opposition as his second highest Test score.

Together, Clarke and Ponting added 386 for the fourth wicket, the fourth-highest partnership in Australian Test history, and a new ground record for the Adelaide Oval, topping South Africans Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock’s previous mark of 341, set in 1964.

What followed was a strange period, where Australia both accelerated and slowed at various points through the middle session, where it wasn’t completely clear whether Australia would declare before or after Tea.

With the score well beyond 500 at this stage, India actually managed to take 4/63 in the middle of all this, and a much-improved bowling effort certainly played a major part in the Australian batsmen not being able to pick up the pace as they might have hoped.

Australia did finally declare after Tea, following a 71-run partnership between Brad Haddin and the homecoming Ryan Harris.  Haddin (42no) and Harris (35no) showed glimpses of attack - Haddin hit two crisply stuck sixes and Harris put Yadav into the new Western Stand to raise the 600 - but neither could really get away properly.

600 was obviously the target, though, leaving India to face 21 overs in a tricky period before stumps.

Stand-in India Captain Virender Sehwag has had moments of madness and brilliance during the bowling innings, but after a lean series with the bat, the time for him to deliver was here.

It has been widely reported that Sehwag’s 151 in Adelaide in 2008 was his last century outside the subcontinent.  

With the Adelaide Oval track nearing its batting zenith, there was surely no better time for him to end that drought.

The signs were there, too, with both Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir getting off to a positive start.  

Ominously, Ed Cowan dropped a potentially massive wicket in just the second over, grassing a sharp chance to his left off a Sehwag flick through mid-wicket.

Consecutive boundaries came in the very next over, and it was as if Sehwag had finally got the ounce of luck he’d craved.  The feet weren’t moving, as usual, but the eye and hands were working in dangerous sync.

Enter Peter Siddle.  

Siddle has developed, throughout this series, the uncanny knack of taking a wicket in either the first over of a new spell or the first over after a break.

His first ball of the Test was not overly fast, didn’t bounce, and is probably best described as a ‘loosener’.  

Yet Sehwag managed to get himself tangled within the delivery’s slowness and bunted the ball straight back off the toe of the bat for Siddle to take an amazing reflex catch in his follow-through.

Cowan’s drop had only cost Australia three runs.

It was a timely boost for the Australian attack, and they used that to remove Rahul Dravid for 1, just 11 balls later.

For the fourth innings in a row, the sixth time in seven innings this series, and the ninth time in his last eleven innings, Dravid was again bowled.  

It was the third time Ben Hilfenhaus had rocked his castle this summer.

My assertion during the Perth Test “‘the Wall’ is now starting the show signs of cracked bricks and crumbling mortar” just rings truer with every innings.

Yet another loss of Dravid's stumps drew yet another Sachin Tendulkar standing ovation, and Day 3 is now set up perfectly for the Little Master to put this ‘100th hundred’ curse to bed.

The 26th of January is Republic Day in India, and a Tendulkar ton might just be the perfect cause for celebrations back home.

However, it’s also Australia Day here, and it truly would be ‘unAustralian’ to turn in a substandard day with the ball after two days of domination with the bat.

Either way, India resumes on Day 3 at 2/61, and it shapes as a big day for both sides.

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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