Just two moments of glory
Barring the two deliveries that dismissed Hayden and Hussey, India had an off day, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.cricket Updated: Jan 27, 2008 15:44 IST
The pitch was good for batting and having started the day with a ball that was 21 overs old, there was no chance for India to get the kind of swing that won them the third Test in Perth. So India's best chance was to get some reverse swing, which to an extent was instrumental in the little success they got on Saturday.
But barring the two deliveries that got rid of Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey, Indians rarely got any purchase from the wicket. Here is an assessment of how the four frontline bowlers fared on Saturday.
Irfan Pathan Used in short bursts, he didn't do much in his first spell, although there was a good leg-before shout against Hayden in his fifth over of the day. Didn't make the batsmen play enough and when he came back after lunch, the skipper could give him just two overs because, once again, he was not consistent enough with his line and length. Looked a completely transformed bowler after tea when he had another big shout, against Hussey, turned down before cleaning him up with a superb delivery. After that, however, he wasn't able to make the right-handers play as frequently as the captain or he himself would have liked. The ball was moving away from them all right, but from well outside off, enabling the batsmen to just leave them alone.
Ishant Sharma Didn't have a great opening spell of five overs, but rose to the occasion manfully when the captain tossed the ball to him after lunch. In a probing spell of 9-2-10-1, he got the big wicket of Hayden with a beauty and had Ricky Ponting in trouble on quite a few occasions. The ball was landing on the seam and cutting back into the right-hander with the length catching Ponting by surprise. The batsman was caught in two minds, whether to go forward or move back. But like the other bowlers, this youngster too bowled quite a few deliveries which the batsmen didn't have to play and that reduced the pressure on Australia at a time when it was necessary to tighten the noose around them. Probably the find of the tour, he has to work on being more consistent.
Harbhajan Singh Apart from a short spell of 8-1-23-0 after lunch when he was bowling at Ponting with Sharma attacking from the other end, the off-spinner was the biggest disappointment among the bowlers. Having started the day, he hardly made the left-handed opening duo play consistently outside off and for a team desperate for wickets it must have been a discouraging sight to watch the batsmen shoulder arms to almost every delivery. He did get a couple to jump awkwardly in his first spell, but both were outside off. Looked better in that period after lunch but once he bowled a few loose ones in the last over of that spell, he never recovered well enough to maintain pressure from one end.
Anil Kumble There is no questioning his commitment, but the skipper was disappointing to a large extent, never really settling down to a steady, consistent rhythm apart from a short burst after tea. With the ball rarely skidding off the pitch, the batsmen were never really hurried by him and, on top of that, he was too full on occasions.
Did invite the openers to drive against the spin in a spell before lunch, but the left-handers never walked into the trap. Was getting the ball to turn from the rough while bowling to left-handers, but couldn't make them play enough against it. Was also guilty of dropping it short at times, which released the pressure on batsmen.