Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Australia in control after bowlers dominate day one

It may be a new year but India seem bent on going retro in a tribute to the 1990s, a period which saw their ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’ reputation travel with them. There was the inevitable sense of déjà vu as they were bowled out for a mere 191 soon after tea on Day one of the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Zaheer Khan did bring them back into the game with three wickets at the top of Australia’s order, but India again frittered away the opportunity provided by the early breakthroughs, enabling Australia to end the day at 116-3.

Top-order trouble

India yet again got off to a terrible start in the first session of a Test and lo behold this time too it stemmed from the top. Forget a noteworthy one, today there was no opening partnership at all. Gautam Gambhir flirted with a delivery outside the off stump and edged an easy catch to Michael Clarke in the very first over to give Australia an advantage straight away. This was after Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat on a pitch that looked like it was excellent for batting but had a tinge of green in it.

Gambhir hasn’t scored a Test century in nearly two years now and very clearly has a problem of playing away from his body that needs sorting out. After a spectacular 2007 and 2008, his form has slowly deteriorated with the past six months being completely forgettable. He missed the tour to the Caribbean courtesy a shoulder injury and thereafter has averaged just 22 from 14 innings. If you look at the 5 Tests he has played for India away from home during this period - his average drops to paltry 13.

With Gambhir gone, the middle order caved into the pressure exerted by some fantastic bowling from the pace trio – Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus.  Dravid couldn’t replicate his good form from 2011 and and offered an inside edge straight to short leg.  Sehwag lived a customary dangerous life before lack of footwork saw him help an edge on its way to the keeper.  Laxman’s woeful run in his once favourite haunt continued with another cheap dismissal – Pattinson tricking him into driving a full delivery that took a thick edge to third slip. Kohli meanwhile wasted another opportunity to make the number 6 slot his own.


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