|Ishant Sharma, who didn't get a haircut but finally came good|
After heavens cried out in bucketfuls during the washed-out first day of the 3rd test between India & Australia in Mohali, the second day was eventful, exciting and dry! Australian captain Michael Clarke seems to be riding his luck with the coin and after winning the toss for the third time in the series, he again opted to bat first.
A defeated, bruised and depleted Australian side took field to India’s confident ones. Surprisingly so, the kangaroos struck gold with their opening partnership as David Warner and Ed Cowan put on a century-run stand. They were slow but steady, and anchored the ship without even a lurch in the morning session. Coach Mickey Arthur must be grinning deep down with the score card showing a happy sight of 139/0. But then the old chimera rose again to bare its venomous fangs. Ravindra Jadeja removed the destructive Warner who, at a personal score of 71, doled out a catch to skipper Dhoni. But no one, not even Dhoni, was prepared for what happened next.
The in-form and the lethal Clarke (who promoted himself at number three) got stumped for a first-ball duck. The scoreboard now read 139/2. The grin from Arthur’s face was beginning to fade heavily.
Out came Hughes who was due for a big score. But after surviving for 30 balls and scoring a paltry 2, he departed in the 31st delivery he faced (out again to a spinner, Ojha was the slayer this time). With 151 for 3, kangaroos were beginning to wobble a bit and needed a gritty stand from the middle-order. And the next batsman Steven Smith indeed did some damage control as he added a few runs with opened Cowan till the latter was dismissed by Ashwin at a personal score of 86. The scoreboard was 198/4.
Brad Haddin and Smith then took the ship forward safely. But just when Aussies were looking good at 244/4, Haddin’s stumps were rattled by a swinger from the long-haired Sharma. Two deliveries later, Sharma struck again to send Henrique (0) back to pavilion. At 244/6, the kangaroos were now on troubled waters and India had smelled blood. Siddle (0) departed soon to Jadeja’s bamboozler. It was 251/7 and out came Mitchell Starc who threw around his bat for a well-crafted 20* (off 21 balls).
The day ended at 273/7 (104 overs) with Steven Smith (58*) and Mitchell Starc (20*) on the crease.
Amongst the bowlers, Jadeja did the maximum damage as he picked up 3 wickets. Ishant had an impressive outing (after a long time) and gave a major twin blow to the Aussies, while Ojha and Ashwin devoured one kangaroo each. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the only wicketless and uneconomic bowler (ER- 5.40) of the day.
Overall, despite the strong foundation laid by the Aussie openers, their middle order collapsed heavily. From a powerful position of 139/0, they just succumbed to 273/7, thereby giving the edge to the Indians. Unless the kangaroo tail wags heavily, one can expect Indian batsman to walk out soon.
Match Summary (at the end of Day 2):
Australia- 273/7 (after 104 overs)
Top scorers: Ed Cowan (86), David Warner (71)
Top bowlers: Ravindra Jadeja (56/3), Ishant Sharma (41/2)
~By Ritesh Agarwal
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