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Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day test - Australia have noses in front of India

India's fortunes in the 1st test on Boxing Day was expected to be hinging on the ankle and hamstring of their opening bowlers. Michael Clarke had this thought on the back of his mind probably and opted to bat first after winning the toss. Not surprisingly, the opening bowlers from India started gingerly, opting to be careful with their bodies than anything else. Warner and Cowan had a steady start before the introduction of the third pacer introduced runs and more importantly, wickets for India.

Warner tried to hook Yadav for another six but the extra bounce took his glove en route to the wicket-keeper. Shaun Marsh came and went without troubling the scorers, thanks to a full-pitched ball from Yadav. Ricky Ponting came to the crease and was promptly pinged on the helmet by a short-pitched one. This mislead the bowlers to focus on the short ball against Ponting, thereby playing into the hands of the Tasmanian Devil. The legend was losing his balance at the crease early on but with the diet of easy pickings, calmed his nerves and adopted a much better approach at the crease.

After the highest Australian partnership this year between Ponting and Cowan, Zaheer Khan decided to make his presence felt in the test match. Bowling with the older ball, he improved with each spell that he bowled and  made the ball talk. This energized Yadav to bowl the perfect ball to Ponting. Shocking him with a short ball, Yadav followed with a full-length delivery that took the edge to slips. Once again, the century eluded the veteran but he was looking good at the end compared to the start when he resembled a cat on hot tin roof.

Zaheer castled Clarke after the short partnership between the captain and Cowan. Bowling around the wicket to bring the ball back, Clarke's cut was not enough to stop the ball from hitting the wicket. The very next ball, out-of-form Michael Hussey got what the commentators called a jaffa !! Though all technological evidence showed no clear signs, the umpire gave Hussey caught behind to loud shouts from the slip cordon. Ashwin chipped with the wicket of Cowan to reduce the Aussies to 214-6. Even-stevens in the day till then. It was then that Haddin and Siddle put their heads down to bring the score to a respectable 277 at the end of day.

It was good news for the Indians to finish the day with the scoreline, especially compared to the tea-time score of 170-3 but not good enough compared to the score when Siddle came to the crease. But, Dhoni would have felt happy that none of his front-line bowlers broke down after bowling 20 overs each (Zak bowled 23 in fact). Ashwin gave a good impression in his first stint Down Under by extracting spin and bounce on the first day of the test. Will the pitch deteriorate further to help him in the second innings is to be seen. Dhoni could have perhaps used Virat Kohli, Sehwag and Sachin for few overs in between to reduce the load on the bowlers but it was not to be.

Overall, an intriguing day but the session score-board at the end of Day 1 shows the Aussies slightly ahead at 2-1.
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