Australia have been totally demoralized on the field by the brilliance of their opponent’s performance today which is a rare sight in world cricket since the last many years. Credit goes to the Indian lower order for that which made sure that there was no tail for the Indian team! The heroes of the day were the spin twins of India, not with the ball, but stunningly with the bat! Captain Kumble and Harbhajan put on a century stand that helped India post an intimidating first innings total of 526.
The Aussies had a good finish to the day though with their opening batsmen – Hayden and Jaques solidly making sure that India didn’t make any inroads in the 21 overs that were bowled at them. In a way, Australia made a fitting reply at 62 for no wicket with Hayden scoring 36 (from 57 balls with 3 fours) and Jaques on 21 (from 71 balls with 2 fours). The only problem these two batsmen had was when Harbhajan Singh was bowling, in particular Phil Jaques, who wasn’t reading the variations from the offie. India’s only chance in those 21 overs came when Dinesh Karthik’s fancy back flick from silly mid off missed the stumps with Phil Jaques well out of his crease backing up.
Overall it was a memorable day for the Indians as they ended up with a total of 526 which was unbelievable. At one stage after the dismissal of Tendulkar, it was difficult to imagine India to get even past 400. The day didn’t start off well for the Indians with MS Dhoni (16 from 64) smashing one in the air but holing out to Symonds at sweeper covers off Johnson. Within half an hour, Tendulkar was also back to the pavilion but not before getting to 153. The little master was in pain during the last phase of his innings after dragging one of his pull shots off Brett Lee right on his knee. Tendulkar perished quickly after that as he played a tame hook shot and India with that were 359 for 7. Australia were now looking to run through the rest of the tail. But Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh simply had other ideas.
It was Captain Anil Kumble who inspired Harbhajan Singh to engineer a partnership. Kumble was earlier put down at short leg after he had fended a short delivery, but that was the only opportunity he gave for the Aussies. He and Harbhajan Singh stayed there and took the score past 400 at lunch. The partnership continued further after lunch and Harbhajan Singh with the aid of some cleanly struck blows got his second fifty of the series! Bhajji then lost his patience and lost his wicket playing an over ambitious shot off his new foe – Andrew Symonds. But by then, he scored a magnificent 63 (from 107 balls with 7 fours) to add up 117 runs for the 8th wicket! The no.10 batsman RP Singh didn’t last long, yet it was still not the end of the Indian first innings. Anil Kumble found great support from the 19-year-old Ishant Sharma to form yet another productive partnership. Kumble reached his well earned fifty and the partnership was so long that he even came close to getting a hundred! With just the one wicket left in the innings, Tea was pushed back by more than 40 minutes but still it wasn’t possible for Australia to finish things off.
It was only after Tea that Australia could finally end the innings with Kumble giving it away with an attempted drive on the rise. Kumble made 87 (from 205 balls with 9 fours) which was his third highest score in his career following the incredible 88 as a night watchman against a fiery South African attack. Ishant Sharma made 14 but his 48-ball stay was worth in gold for his side. The Indians made the Aussies to field for 152.5 overs! The last wicket pair put on 58 and lasted over 20 overs while the last five wickets for the Indians put on 244 runs! The morale was absolutely down for the Aussies, catches were being put down, the fielders went quiet and all Ponting was left to do was to keep on spitting on his hands!
The 526 total is so important for the Indians to feel secured about themselves in this Test Match as history says that teams have gone onto lose at the Adelaide Oval despite making huge first innings totals. The one minus point for the Indians towards the end of the day was RP Singh leaving the field after straining his hamstring while bowling a bouncer! They will need plenty of luck if RP has to get himself fit for the rest of the match. The pitch so far has looked slow and without much bounce. The odd one has kept low and the bowlers have hardly got any sideways movement or turn. However, it is no cake walk for the batsmen as they will find it difficult to unleash their strokeplay because of the slowness of the track.