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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Boxing Day test - Bowlers rule the MCG

It was a fascinating battle at the MCG where the bowlers from either side held the upper hand. Only the veteran pair of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey managed to survive the carnage to put up a well-paced and crucial partnership in the second innings for Australia.

The day started with India in a good position to use the momentum of the partnership between Sachin and Dravid to score further and possibly take a handy lead. Hilfenhaus thought otherwise. Pitching the ball up and generating just enough movement to beat the batsmen and remind them of their old weaknesses, Hilfenhaus had the Indians play to the hands of the cordon behind the stumps. Dravid was bowled by a peach of a delivery while Kohli continued his overseas test match form by nicking to the keeper. Laxman was cleaned up by Siddle's well-pitched delivery while Dhoni continued his miserable run in test matches by edging to gully. All this while, Ishant was patient enough to continue his stint as a night-watchman but not for long. Ashwin showed what the top-order batsmen could have done by adding runs to the total and thereby reducing the deficit to a better-looking 51.

Australia's recent record has not been so great in the second innings - remember 47 vs South Africa as well as the recent debacle vs Black Caps in Hobart! There was a danger of a repeat performance when four batsmen perished to the bowling of Umesh and Ishant. Zaheer was bowling well and maintaining the pressure from the other end while the batsmen were getting out to the other bowlers. It needed the experience of Ponting and Hussey to stop the rut and keep the scoreboard ticking. Ponting looked more relaxed compared to the first innings while Hussey was on a mission to show his worth to a squad that cannot afford to miss him. Zaheer came back with late strikes but Hussey's miss by Dravid might prove to be costly.

Overall, a close dashboard for the test match with the Indians having a slight edge over Australia. The only difference will be the runs on the board that India will have to chase down. If the last 2 wickets are dismissed quite early tomorrow, India will expect their famed lineup to come to the party the second time.
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