India’s aggressive openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir lifted the spirits of the dressing room with a perfect start after the Aussies had piled up 430. The second day’s play saw the Kumble led team extremely frustrated and paved way for an ordinary fielding performance. Michael Hussey took full toll of that to not only score a century but also to take his team to a secure looking 430. Hussey top scored with 146 and was the last man out. Sehwag and Gambhir then batted with a lot of self belief to take India to 68 for no loss in a little over 18 overs before a sudden spell of rain ended the day’s play.
The contest was very even when play started this morning and it went into India’s favour when Ishant Sharma beat Shane Watson with pace and movement to reduce the visitors to 259 for 5. Next man in, Brad Haddin struggled against Ishant as well but was fortunate enough to survive his spell and later on provided capable support to Mike Hussey. The two spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were too easy to negotiate and by lunch, there was no further loss at all for Australia, who went to lunch at 333 for 5. Hussey after lunch got his 9th Test hundred and Haddin appeared to be solid at the other end. But out of nowhere, Ishant Sharma decided to bowl a slower delivery which caught Haddin napping as he was too early in his attempted drive to end up scooping a catch at covers. Haddin made 33 in 110 balls with 4 fours while adding up 71 for the 6th wicket. Ishant with a similar delivery foxed debutant Cameron White (who made just 6) as well to bring in some huge relief for the Indians.
Australia got reduced to 362 for 7 but the next pair of Hussey and Lee battled through to get their team well past 400. After Tea, Zaheer Khan produced some magic with the old ball to take three wickets to restrict Aus to 430 in 149.5 overs. Zaheer got the ball to reverse swing a big way which helped him clean up the stumps of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson. Brett Lee had made a significant contribution of 27 facing 61 balls. Towards the end, Michael Hussey (146 from 276 balls with 15 fours) fell through an inside edge onto his stumps to the same bowler. Unbelievably on a slow track, it was the two Indian fast bowlers taking nine of the ten wickets. Zaheer got a 5-wicket haul, to be precise figures of 29.5-4-91-5 and Ishant stamped his class with 30-7-77-4. The two spinners Kumble and Harbhajan bowled over 40 overs each with almost 0 result.
India’s fielding show became worse in the afternoon with the seniors getting exposed badly like Ganguly letting one cover drive go between his legs. Tendulkar too proved to be sloppy on the field. The Aussies right through the innings stole hundreds of singles just by dropping the ball in front of the infielders. India needed to bat 28 overs in the final session and it was expected to be a tricky session against Brett Lee and Stuart Clark. However, there was a different script written by Virender Sehwag, who transferred the pressure on the Australian bowlers instead. On the slow wicket, the extra pace of the Aussies helped Sehwag to time his shots and today he was strong on the onside as well. Gambhir at the other end kept it tight and hardly gave an inch away to the bowlers. Soon Ponting’s attack was exposed as well on a flat track. Sehwag smashed his way to 43 from 55 balls with 7 fours and Gambhir moved onto 20 with 3 fours from 55 balls before rain stopped play in the 19th over. The hosts have got themselves to a flier and they know if they can survive Lee and Clark initially, then the Australian attack is not that potent enough. At the same time, the Indian batsmen can’t relax as the Aussies will be coming hard at them all the time.