India scrape ahead despite Lyon-hearted effort by Aussies
Just when one concluded there was no fight in this Australia team, they exploded on the second day of the final Test on Saturday. After three one-sided Tests, the contest turned into an intense battle on the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch. N Ananthanarayanan reports. Scorecardindia Updated: Mar 24, 2013 09:32 IST
Just when one concluded there was no fight in this Australia team, they exploded on the second day of the final Test on Saturday.
After three one-sided Tests, the contest turned into an intense battle on a Ferozeshah Kotla pitch that made batting tougher by the delivery. India batsmen, used to consolidation and domination in this series, were forced to think of survival as the day wore on.
When the visitors were bowled out for 262 in the morning, there was hope that despite the tricky pitch, the India batsmen would once again make their first innings count. But the Aussies would fancy their victory chances after reducing the hosts to 266/8 at stumps.
It was off-spinner Nathan Lyon who led that stunning fightback. Bowling a marathon spell of 22 overs, which started soon after lunch and went well into the final session, he left the batsmen guessing with his control and accuracy. And he signed off with his fifth wicket off the last ball, Ravichandran Ashwin falling as his third leg-before victim.
With only India's tail to get on Sunday, the Aussies know even a fourth innings target of around 100 will leave the hosts vulnerable. Scorecard
Australia skipper Michael Clarke had insisted his bowlers must stop the India batsmen from raising big partnerships if they are to battle on level terms. And after No 9 Peter Siddle (51) led a fightback, the injured Clarke - flying home as play progressed on Saturday - would have been thrilled how his deputy Shane Watson executed bowling and fielding plans.
The Aussies were suddenly pumped up. The pace trio of James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle bowled with aggression, used the short-pitched stuff and sledged with gusto. They pinned the batsmen back as the unpredictable bounce kept them in check.
India still got off to a great start. There was a questionable move to ask Cheteshwar Pujara to open the innings. The decision to let debutant Ajinkya Rahane bat at No 5 meant more tinkering with the order as Virat Kohli was forced to bat at No 3. The in-form duo of Pujara (52) and Murali Vijay (57), who never looked really in but again showed his newfound temperament, put on a century partnership.
With a swollen right hand from a Pattinson delivery, Pujara then played Lyon for the turn and was bowled. In his next over, Lyon trapped Virat (1) leg before. With the Aussie pacers too working to a plan, only 76 runs came in the mid-session.
But the vital breakthrough came when Vijay got an unplayab-le rising delivery from Siddle and was forced to fend it, only to be caught by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade. Rahane (7) looked too overawed, was hit on the helmet and then offered a leg-side catch off Lyon. Sachin Tendulkar (32) was set when he was trapped by Lyon with one that kept low. MS Dhoni (32) and Ravindra Jadeja (43) played positively but the skipper pulled tamely to midwicket and Jadeja was unlucky, ruled leg-before despite being struck outside off-stump.
The day had begun with Ashwin taking his ninth five-wicket innings haul in only his 16th Test and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha becoming the third fastest Indian to complete 100 wickets. The batting collapse means those efforts won't be discussed for the day.