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India surrender huge lead after Clark’s triple blow

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India’s hopes of making history at the MCG seems to have been almost shattered after the batting failed to deliver the goods on the second day. The Aussies are comfortably placed in the driver’s seat after the visitors surrendered a huge 147-run lead. Stuart Clark, the new Glenn McGrath for the Aussies destroyed India’s chances of putting up a good first innings total with a triple blow that was on either side of the Tea Break. India were bundled out for 196 after bowling out the homeside for 343 in the morning session. In their second innings, Aussies have collected 32 for no wicket to stretch their lead further to 179.

There has been lot of quick progress in just the two days of this test match. A draw is hugely unlikely which means that India will have to work up lot of magic with both the ball and the bat in the second essay. In the morning session, Zaheer didn’t waste any time by getting Stuart Clark dismissed in the 3rd over. Zaheer finished with 4 for 94. India’s new opening combination of Jaffer and Dravid then allowed the new ball attack of Lee and Johnson to dominate them. The scoreboard was hardly moving for the visitors with both the openers literally struggling to put bat on ball. Dravid got an early life when he was put down by Phil Jaques at fourth slip off Mitchell Johnson in the 8th over. The opening stand didn’t last long though as in the next over, Jaffer was forced to nick a late outswinger from Brett Lee and Gilchrist with his bright pink gloves took an easy catch that fetched a charity of 18,000 USD! Jaffer’s first innings on the Australian soil lasted 27 balls in which he made 4 and India were 6 for 1. In the 12th over, there was the second wicket coming with Dravid getting caught in the slips off Johnson but that was a no ball as called by the umpire.

Dravid made use of his two lives by sticking on for a long time at the crease. However, his innings didn’t have any purpose and just at the stroke of the lunch break, Stuart Clark brought an end to his boring stay by trapping him infront of the stumps. Dravid made 5 after batting out 66 balls and India went into lunch at 31 for 2 in 21.4 overs! In the afternoon session, Sachin Tendulkar, the new batsman started off in a positive fashion and VVS Laxman, who had got a start of 21 before lunch rallied to get things back into a shape. This time it was the the turn of Brett Lee to the damage and Laxman perished to a short delivery to which he decided to sway out of the line rather than defending or pulling. That short delivery from Lee followed Laxman (26 from 56 balls with 1 four) dangerously and kept low and all the batsman could do was fend it with his gloves to a forward diving Ponting in the slips. Delicately placed at 55 for 3, the visitors needed a fighting partnership between Tendulkar and the inform Ganguly. It did come with both batsmen playing their shots whenever they could. Both attacked Brad Hogg to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Tendulkar was particularly severe on Hogg with slog sweeps. A couple of fours and a six in between saw Tendulkar race away to a half century in the 39th over that was bowled by Hogg. Tendulkar took just the 58 balls to get to the little milestone in this innings. Ganguly joined the party too with a straight six off the same bowler. Tendulkar needed to make this half century of his into a big one, but overconfidence and the lack of pace in the wicket caused his downfall. Yet again, it was Stuart Clark striking before the stroke of a break. Tendulkar (62 from 77 with 7 fours and a six) made the wrong choice of going for a square cut to a delivery that wasn’t wide at all, he tragically under edged the shot back onto his stumps. He was out in a similar fashion even against Victoria! India with his exit were back in trouble at  120 for 4. Yuvraj, who came in next survived a bat pad catch off Hogg which wasn’t picked by Umpire Mark Benson. But the other Umpire, Billy Bowden ensured that justice was made by raising his crooked finger to a caught behind appeal when Yuvraj Singh was beaten outside the offstump off Clark. Yuvraj was shocked by the decision, he expressed his disbelief by staying in the middle for a long time. He was gone for a duck having played 11 balls and later on the slow mo replays and Hot Spot, a special software did confirm the faintest of nicks.

India at Tea were looking down the barrel at 122 for 5, for the second time they went into a break at the fall of a wicket. Just a couple of balls into the last session, Clark shattered all hopes of a fightback  by getting Dhoni plumb infront. Dhoni too fell for a duck like Yuvraj in his first ever test innings down under. Poor Ganguly didn’t have too many options now, he did get the support from the spirited Anil Kumble. But very soon even he had to head back to the pavilion after getting outsmarted by a skidder from Hogg. Ganguly made 43 (from 79 balls) with a boundary and a six and India at the fall of his wicket were hopelessly placed at 166 for 7. The tail didn’t really trouble the Aussies and the Indians got bowled in around 72 overs for 196. Captain Kumble made a gritty 27 after battling out for 76 balls. Lee finished with 4 for 46 in 19.5 overs and Clark with mean figures of 4 for 28 in 15. Both Lee and Clark made good use of reverse swing once the ball became old. Johnson was the only unlucky bowler not to have taken any wickets. Hogg did come good toward the end to have figures of 2 for 82 in 21 overs.

The Australian openers had to bat out a little over 30 minutes before the close which they did comfortably. There was nothing happening at all for Zaheer and RP Singh and Hayden helped himself to 22 from 24 with 3 fours. Jaques got 10 with a couple of uppishly played square cuts and his team closed the day at 32 for no wicket in 8 overs.