India face uphill task in Fourth Test
by Andy Jalil
DateLine: 25th January 2012
|Andy Jalil reporting from Australia
© Pakistan Cricket|
In association with Etihad Airways.
Sustaining the mood of the previous day when they made batting look a joyful task, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting helped themselves to 134 runs in the first session of the second day's play which saw further records broken and both batsmen completing double centuries. Resuming the first innings on a solid platform of 335 for three they strengthened their position taking their fourth wicket stand to a record 386 before parting. The innings eventually progressed to a massive 604 for seven before declaration leaving India 21 overs to bat before stumps. In reply the tourists were 61 for two, a demoralising 543 runs behind.
India lost the two wickets in successive overs. Peter Siddle was brought on first change and he responded immediately taking a good right-handed return catch in his follow through when his low full toss on leg stump was mistimed by Virender Sehwag who had eight of the total of 26. Five runs later, in the next over Ben Hilfenhaus, having changed ends, bowled Rahul Dravid for 1 with the ball grazing under his forearm and going on to the stumps. Gautam Gambhir, on 30 and Sachin Tendulkar with 12, prevented further loss.
Earlier, it wasn't until the start of the second session that some respite came India's way. The third ball after the break, from Umesh Yadav, brought the dismissal of Clarke, on 210, with the ball hitting the back pad and deflecting on to the stumps. He had faced 275 balls, hitting 26 of them to the boundary and a six in an innings spanning six-and-a-half-hours. He has achieved the unique feat of becoming the only captain to score a triple and a double century in the same series. His stand with Ponting was the highest for the fourth wicket on this ground beating 341 between Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock of South Africa in 1964. It was also the fourth highest for Australia for any wicket beating Steve Waugh and Greg Blewett in Johannesburg for the fifth wicket in 1996/97.
Clarke said: "It's very nice to have scored some more runs. That wicket is very flat and both Ricky and I spoke early in our innings to go on and make big ones (runs). The positive is that it is nice to score more runs and to have six hundred runs on the board (but) the other side of it is that it's going to take a hell of a lot of work to take twenty wickets on that wicket." He added: "It's as good a batting wicket as you are going to get so we are in for a good workout, the bowlers will have to bowl well and we'll have to hang on to every chance in the field."
Ponting was on 199 at Clarke's dismissal and in Yadav's next over he pulled to the square leg boundary to bring up his sixth double Test century and the third against India, two of which were in 2003-04 on this ground and in Melbourne where his 257 remains his highest Test score. Michael Hussey, after his long wait to get to the crease didn't last long. On 25, a direct hit to the stumps from silly point ran him out as he played to leg and stepped out looking for a quick single having put on 50 with Ponting.
India finally got the other big wicket they needed when Ponting's eight-and-a-half-hours innings containing 404 balls, 21 of which he hit for four, finally came to an end on 221. It took a short ball to tempt him into a pull and Tendulkar at deep square leg held an overhead catch. He and Clarke are the only two batsmen who have scored two double centuries in a series against India. Ponting had done so in 2003/04. The former Australia captain has enjoyed batting on this ground with four of his six centuries against India being scored here.
With 41 Test hundreds, he is second to Tendulkar who has 51 and must be hoping his elusive hundredth international century finally comes with India responding to the oppositions' colossal total. It's been a phenomenal batting performance by Clarke and Ponting and it's only the fourth time that there have been two double hundreds in an innings against India. If the tourists had thought, with Ponting's departure, that the end of the innings was in sight, the tail-enders had other plans.
The next wicket fell three runs later on 533 with Peter Siddle getting a thin edge. But Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris with three sixes and three fours between them put on 71 in their unbroken eighth wicket stand bringing up the six hundred with a six by Harris before the declaration came much to the relief of India's bowlers, three of whom had conceded over 100 runs and Zaheer had given 96. Ravi Ashwin finished with three for 194, the highest number of runs conceded by a bowler in a Test on this ground.
Looking at the bright side, Ishant Sharma said: "There is a positive (in this game), even in 2003 they (Australia) scored 550 odd runs and we won the game from there so everyone is positive and looking forward to the next good three days. It's a good flat track like you find in India so there is a good chance of scoring runs here."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)