India is historically known to start an overseas Test Series in countries like Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand and others in a poor fashion. The players usually take their time to get into their own, to get used to the weather conditions, and to the pace, bounce and what not of the pitches for both the batsmen and the bowlers. By the time, everything is set right, the Series’ outcome could well have gone past their reach. However, this tour of Australia seems to be totally different and refreshing as Team India has so far outplayed the hosts with both the bat and the ball.
By the close of Day 2, India are just 119 runs away from reaching Australia’s first innings total of 338 and they have got seven wickets in hand. What more advantage Team India can ask to press on for a win? Especially with the pitch looking like a sportive one with equal opportunities for both the batsmen and the bowlers, India finds itself in a strong position.
The Aussie attack has a very young look to it – in the sense there aren’t many Tests played by its bowlers. Peter Siddle, James Pattinson might be fiery and Hilfenhaus could swing and seam it around, but they are anytime better to face against for the Indian batsmen rather than the likes of McGrath, Lee, Warne and many other former Aussie bowlers who tormented them in the past. The Australian Captain Michael Clarke is relatively new to the job as well, so he is bound to make mistakes when put under pressure. He has already shown signs of that today by opting for the likes of Nathan Lyon, Michael Hussey and David Warner instead of going hard at the pair of Dravid and Tendulkar.
So it’s the opportunity for India to grab with both hands. Rahul Dravid holds the key for India tomorrow. He did a superb job in surviving for tomorrow despite getting beaten so many times in the corridor of uncertainty. His stint in the middle should inspire Virat Kohli who will have to follow in Dravid’s footsteps. Kohli along with MS Dhoni will have to hang in there in the middle to boost the Indian total. VVS Laxman pretty well knows his job being a veteran at this level. He might not have a great average at this ground but certainly excels against the Aussies. If he sticks together with Dravid, then India could well be in the driver’s seat quite comfortably.
The third day will be crucial for India to bat well so that they can control the game for the rest of the session. India should work towards a lead of atleast 100 plus which means a total of around 450 and for that each and every batsman left has got to fight it out! There could be an early wicket tomorrow for the Aussies with night watchman Ishant Sharma at the crease. India has to not only bat out the good balls from Siddle and Pattinson but has also got to cash in on anything that is loose. Sachin Tendulkar did this brilliantly today in his knock of 73 which is the cause of India’s good position once Sehwag departed at 97 for 2. May the rest of the batsmen continue the good work to ensure that India doesn’t squander this big time opportunity!
- BV Swagath