Day Two, SCG: Pup is now a full grown dog

Posted: January 4, 2012 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in Australia 2011-12
Tags: , , , , ,

Goutham Chakravarthi

What’s the fuss all about? Like you didn’t know that Ponting could bat? Or that Clarke’s bat could outshine his spartkling teeth that he brushes between four and a dozen times everyday?

Yes, Zaheer lacked penetration and seemed disheartened. Yes, Ashwin did put various spins on the ball, but still the ball did little off the wicket and only met Clarke’s dancing geet. Umesh was down on pace and Ishant was effective but unlucky. Ponting was made to play across the line. Plan checked. Clarke was made to fish at out swingers. Plan checked. Ponting inside edged, was beaten, was all but run out on 99, but he survived and brought up a memorable hundred. Though Clarke went past Doug Walters’ score at the SCG, Ponting still was the hero of the day. There was no back-up plan.

There was more sparkle in Clarke's bat than his teeth at the SCG. Photo: AP

The sun was out and the conditions were good for batting. And so it was yesterday, but a different set was bowling and another set was batting. After today you might say if Indian bowlers bowled to Indian batsmen, then at least, they might make some runs. But the bowlers might fancy their chances. A lot was riding on them to pull India back in to this Test. And for once Zaheer looked ineffective and Ponting and Clarke took great advantage of it.

Sourav Ganguly tried swapping seats in the ESPNSTAR box and thereby hoped to change India’s luck, but still Ponting’s inside edges missed the stumps. Repeatedly. The Swamy Army sang and danced, but nothing seemed to distract a determined Clarke from scoring a memorable double hundred. Kohli had a tiff with the spectators. And Richie Benaud’s many doubles in the crowd enjoyed piling the misery on the Indians. In short, everything in the ground but for India’s cricket seemed more lively.

Cape Town last month might well be remembered as among Australia’s lowest points. But it cannot be forgotten that Clarke played one of the finest innings in recent times in the same Test. A lot has been said about his fast life and posh girlfriends, but he has been impressive in dealing with his teammates and the media. Of course, he has been the impressive of the two leaders on show. And, perhaps, with this innings, and looking good for many more tomorrow, he has announced himself as the captain of the boat. A captain at the prime of his powers is good news for Australia.

India seems despondent and clueless. Often, the planning seemed non-existent. Field placements and bowling changes were debated, as they often do when things do not go well. Channel 9 feasted on Dhoni’s supposed incompetence as a captain and lacklusture body language of the Indians on the field.

India are a long way from home and even longer away from safety in this Test. Ganguly says India will have to bat out of their skins to save this Test. It has been done before, and by the same people in the team. Gambhir, not too far back, batted more than 10 hours to save a Test, but seems hard pressed to last 10 deliveries this series. John Wright once said he wished to see Sehwag bat 10 hours in a Test. And also said, if he did, he would score 800. If he does, India might fancy winning. For now, the only possibility of the number 800 seems to be with Australia’s first innings total.

It is not impossible for India to save this Test. But it is difficult to imagine the Test going into the fifth day at the moment.

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