Day Two, Melbourne: Sehwag and Tendulkar Dazzle

Posted: December 27, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in Australia 2011-12
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Goutham Chakravarthi

Teams were beaten even before they set their foot on these shores over the last two decades. Bowlers targeted batsmen and former players and media targetted the captain. Crowds were one sided, and invariably, so were the contests on the field. Insofar, this tour has been anything but that.

Two days into the series, the talk has largely revolved around DRS in the Aussie press. No talk to players and ex-players targetting opposition. Even newbies like Kohli and Yadav are left alone. If anything, a scathing attack was made on the pace of Ed Cowan’s batting in the first innings. Mental disintegration on and off the field that was the norm is now missing. It is a fair reflection of the times. It is still a marquee series, but it is still a battle between a side arresting its downward slide and another that is trying to rebuild to reclaim the top spot. It will be fought to the end, but the winner will not be crowned the champion as it was the case for much of the last decade.

Sehwag and Tendulkar scored aggressive half centuries in India's strong reply to Australia's 333.

Sehwag and Tendulkar scored aggressive half centuries in India's strong reply to Australia's 333.

Like Australia’s faded aura, cricket vocabulary seems anything but right with regards to its bowling. Words like attack, guile and spell sat well with the writers and bowlers of the past, but it chokes your throat to say that when you see Hussey and Warner as part of a bowling unit.  It was touted as much a battle of the young Australian quicks high on velocity and potential against an ageing yet formidable batting side. By lunch on day two, a determined lower order had taken the Australian tally to 333. The wicket had considerably quicked, and notably there was less happening off the wicket. But, good carry and enough movement off the wicket promised a lot in store for the remainder of the day.

Ivan Lendl was among the first to play mind games. He didn’t do it by targeting his opponent through the media space, but used his well-toned physique and the locker room to carry out the task. He would walking around the locker room doing skips stark naked. With Sehwag, there is no fear of such physical intimidation. But with bat in hand, he is designed to destroy bowlers. He is the barometer of courage for bowlers. He plays his game, and often with a smile. May be, Pattinson will not second that after his altercation with Sehwag. But India got what it wanted out of Sehwag – a quick and positive start for Dravid and Tendulkar to build on. Sehwag’s was a chancy innings, but promised more good in the remainder of the series.

The innings of the Test so far came from Tendulkar. With immense brouhaha surrounding his hundreth 100, he played with freedom and decorated the MCG with spectacular strokeplay. He was rarely in any trouble and put on a show. A repeat of his 2007-08 showing with the bat might well pull the series in India’s favour this time, but that is a discussion for later. The MCG crowd gave him a rousing reception and he didn’t let them down. With the day drawing to a close and a partner suffering with cramps, he closed shop early only to be bowled by the fiery Siddle who was the sole hope in a largely flat performance by the Australian bowlers. India will sleep comfortably in the knowledge that Dravid is still unbeaten, even if luckily so.

Both batting units have put up a good show thus far and the wicket has flattened out. It promises to be good for batting for another two days. But given the recent history of both batting units that is skewed towards more than the occasional batting collapse, there is still plenty to look forward to in the Test.

  1. It never looked like an India – Australia Test match.That intensity was missing and so was the quality.Australian bowlers never bowled in the right areas and whenever they did, the indians were in trouble. Sachin played a classic innings but Dravid struggled. Siddle looked extremely dangerous at the end of the day. If Australians correct their mistake they did today on the third day, Indian batsmen are going to struggle but If they bowl like they did today, India is sure to get a lead.

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