In the dressing room after the day's play the senior members of India's squad tried to liven up the mood after a better part of a blistering summer day was spent chasing the ball all around the Adelaide Oval. They tried to evoke the memories of 2003-04 when India came back after conceding over 500 runs to win a remarkable Test. An hour before the day's play ended, the hero of that triumph, Rahul Dravid, trudged back to the pavilion looking a pale shadow of the player who scored over 300 runs in that winning cause.Dravid's dismissal summed up the day and, in a way the series, for India. Arguably the most technically sound batsman in the current game was bowled for the sixth time in seven innings. This time the ball didn't creep in between bat and pad; it didn't beat him for pace; it didn't deflect off his pads onto the stumps. Dravid found yet another way to lose his wicket. A Ben Hilfenhaus delivery ricocheted off his elbow to rattle the stumps.
Hoping against hope
In the press box, Indian journalists showed hawk-eyed precision for statistics and took refuge in cold numbers and coincidence, pointing out that like Australia, India lost their first wicket with the score on 26. Like Australia, the second wicket fell at 31. Australia eventually scored 604-7 declared. India ended the second day on 61/2.
The first session of Day Two was a carbon copy of the last two sessions of the opening day as overnight centurions Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke showed no intention to relent. Off the second ball he faced in the morning, an Ishant Sharma half-volley drifting down the leg-side, Clarke guided the ball to the boundary in front of square leg. From there on it was more of the same as Australia went a session without losing a wicket for the sixth time in the series.
In elite company
Just before the session ended, Clarke reached his double hundred, emulating Don Bradman and Walter Hammond, the only other batsmen to score a triple century and a double in the same series. He also became the first captain to do so.
He was finally dismissed, shortly after the interval, bowled by Umesh Yadav for 210. His 386-run partnership with Ponting is the highest in Tests between India and Australia, breaking the 376-run stand between Dravid and Laxman in the historic victory at Eden Gardens in 2001.
Ponting brought up his own double hundred, the sixth of his career, not much later. Next man Mike Hussey chipped in with 25 before he was run out. Ponting finally departed for 221, caught by Tendulkar off Zaheer.
The previously out of sorts Brad Haddin and tailender Ryan Harris then compiled an unbeaten 71-run eighth wicket partnership to guide the hosts past 600.
On a track made for his style of batting, much was expected off stand-in captain Virender Sehwag. But after getting an early reprieve when Ed Cowan dropped him on 5, he perished to Peter Siddle, who took a superb return catch to give the visitors an early jolt. Dravid joined him in the pavilion soon.
Gautam Gambhir had reached 30 by stumps with Tendulkar providing him company. Thursday is a special day for both countries. India will celebrate Republic Day while the hosts celebrate Australia Day. Who will celebrate out in the middle?