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Cameron Rose: Two sorts of glorious

02 January 2012 2

Two sorts of glorious greeted us today – a sunny Melbourne morning, and the uncertainty of sport.

Walking into the ground and mixing with both sets of fans, there was not so much an air of tension, as an air of excited anticipation.

The feeling among the crowd was that there would be a result on this day, but which way it would go, nobody could confidently predict.

There has been a tendency in recent matches for top- and middle-order batting collapses, with some stern resistance from the tailenders, and so it has proved in this game.

Hussey and the number ten Pattinson were at the crease to begin the day, but it was the latter who appeared more assured from the outset, and in fact looked as in control as any batsmen in the match.

Hussey looked a little shaky and was soon caught behind to a rising delivery from Zaheer. While this looked a victory for the Indians, it only brought Hilfenhaus and Pattinson together, who would go on to form the second most potent partnership of the innings.

Pattinson was thrilling all with his strokeplay, and Hilfenhaus was doing his best to combine attacking instincts with the ability to support his partner.

Dhoni’s field settings continued to be abysmal with men flung far and wide to protect his bowlers, and the crowd had to look twice to be certain that it wasn’t Don Bradman and Greg Chappell at the crease, such was the Indians conservatism.

One can only assume Clarke and his fellow top order strugglers were ashamed at what they were seeing from the unlikely duo – leaving balls not threatening the stumps, defending well to good balls on them, and punishing loose deliveries.

After 43 valuable, potentially match-defining runs, Hilfenhaus finally departed to an unbelievable, irregular dismissal – caught at second slip to a fast bowler getting a bit of movement away.

So the target of 292 was set, and statistics were being pulled from everywhere in an attempt to work out who history was for and against.

A match that promised to be tight had delivered, and opinions were being made vehemently for each side. But all agreed on one thing – Virender Sehwag held the key to this match more than any other.

In true cavalier fashion, he threw his bat at his first ball so lustily that the resulting breeze was felt up on the third level, and extra layers of clothing were the order of the day.

I’ve seen axe murders swing with less conviction that this bloke, and mafia victims thrown to sea with more chance of moving their feet.

As ever, he who lives by the sword will die by it, and Sehwag soon did, offering a tracer bullet to Mike Hussey who held the sharpest of chances as if catching a butterfly with sore feet.

What a difference an innings makes – an important dropped chance and a golden duck in the first, and top score of 89 and a classic catch in the second for the venerable ‘Mr Cricket’.

One of the funny things about being at the ground is that the Indian fans get almost as excited as the Aussies when one of their batsmen is dismissed.

They love nothing more than giving a ground-shaking welcome as one of their heroes strides to the crease, and so it was as The Wall ambled to the wicket and cemented himself in to end the first session.

As exciting as it was before the main interval, it was nothing compared to after. Rarely, if at all, in recent seasons has an Australian pace attack gelled together and worked so impressively as the firm of Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Pattinson.

Together they delivered the type of carnage in the middle session that would have made the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park proud, feasting upon the highly lauded Indian batting line-up to the tune of 5/57 from 17 mesmerizing post-lunch overs.

Gambhir again proved ill-equipped against fiery bowling, fending weakly outside off stump for the second time in the match.

The Wall was ripped down by James ‘The Package’ Pattinson, further announcing his arrival as perhaps the next great champion of the game.

Seemingly not at his peak early in this innings, he worked away just short of a length forcing Dravid back before tearing one through his defences to shatter the stumps with such searing effect that the slip cordon called for tweezers to remove the splinters embedded in their skin.

The Package then wrapped Laxman up at the end of a torrid over, and Kohli offered scant resistance to a Hilfenhaus straight one to fall for a duck the colour of gold.

Through all of this Sachin Tendulkar was batting imperiously, bothered neither by the fall of wickets, nor the fearsome fast bowling.

You wonder sometimes if his majesty is overplayed, such is the exaggerated affection for everything he does, but in this match he has looked to be on another plane.

If looking at his bat after this match, I’d half expect to only see one cherry on it, such is his precision in finding the middle of the willow each time.

In both innings he has not looked close to going out until the moment he has, and this time the Master fell chasing one from Siddle, delivering another catch to the waiting hands of M.Hussey.

So it was 6/81 and this match was as good as over. Dhoni and company swung away before and after tea, connecting with some, finding only fresh air with others, some entertaining runs and more gratifying wickets the result.

When the final wicket fell to an outfield blinder by Warner, most were thinking the same thing – I had correctly predicted the outcome of this match, glorious victory to the Aussies.

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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