Watch cricket highlights - Australia vs India - from the 1st Test, 4th Day played at Bengaluru on October 12, 2008.
India hung around long enough during the morning session to see Zaheer Khan become the highest scorer in this innings (57), while Ishanth Sharma once again frustrated the Aussies. Australian tactics to curtail runs with India 8 down might have been the smart thing to do in hindsight but while it was going on, things like the lack of a short leg etc didn’t look pretty.
Well the Aussies came out with a 70 run headstart and what followed was engrossing cricket with initially Zaheer/Ishanth and later Harbhajan Singh bowling close to his best in recent times. Matthew Hayden did appear to get yet another dubious call though at the time of the appeal he looked dead. India were right in it when Ponting fell to a brilliant set-up by Ishanth Sharma – first, a slower ball inducing a controlled drive followed by another fractionally slower ball this time bowled without any change of action, which got Ponting. With Australia 2 down, Kumble who had been off the field due to a rotator cuff (shoulder) related injury (he’s apparently been carrying for a while now) returned though he couldn’t immediately bowl. Hussey-Katich began grinding it out, and it wasn’t long before the commentators began throwing up comparisons between Kumble’s captaincy and Dhoni’s. Dhoni has definitely shown himself to be a very good captain in T20 and ODIs but the chat today seemed unfair. If India had a spring-in-their-step (which was the oft used phrase by the commentators) when they came out under Dhoni it was because they’d just frustrated the Aussies with a late order fightback and the early fall of Hayden. If Dhoni could be given credit for Ponting’s wicket, Kumble deserved credit for Simon Katich’s wicket. Katich who refuses to come unstuck was prompted to do so with a tempting mid-off up – he lofted one over for a four and then being in the unfamiliar aggressive zone jabbed at the next ball – a top spinner by Harbhajan. To call for Kumble to be replaced by Dhoni for the rest of the series was therefore unfair and sounded more like a repetitive chorus learnt by rote without objectivity.
It’s unfortunate that Kumble’s personal form has been poor in Sri Lanka and in the 1st innings (probably injury-related). What would be really ironical – Kumble sits out the next test – the Indian middle order which is definitely gonna mesmerize during this series does so and suddenly you’ll have credit for this going to the new captain.
Anyway this test is far from over – Shane Watson and Brad Haddin upped the tempo of the Aussie innings towards the end of play and Australia now have a lead of 263. Half an hour more tomorrow should give them around 290-300 which should be good enough for a declaration. Then it’s upto Sehwag and the Fab Four to win, lose or draw this match.
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