It was a remarkable fightback by the Baggy Green after a selection of India's batsmen, both emerging and epic, put them in control of the match. Thankfully though, after Mitchell Johnson picked his batting back up he then delivered a crucial spell of bowling to put us back into the match and set the game back in the balance. His three wickets for the day (resulting in his 6th 5-for after picking up the wickets of Sehwag & Gambhir on day 2) won us the session and then Nathan Hauritz found some fortune with two scalps at the end.
Mitchell's control was so good and he continued to make the Indian batsmen think. Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus are in unfamiliar territory and I am glad that they didn't try to get too creative and stuck to their natural bowling. The thing is when Sachin Tendulkar is having a good day at the office, he will take on the best bowlers, as did Brian Lara, as does Punter.
Sachin's off side stroke-play was a main feature of his innings from the moment 'God arrived at the crease'. Got to see the dramatic humour in that!
It was a relief when Marcus North managed to do something for the game by getting the prized wicket of Sachin, but also picked his wicket on 98 runs! It was a bonus for us to get him then.
Suresh Raina batted really well too. He had a lifeline when Tim Paine made his second ultimate shocker while playing for Australia after missing a simple stumping by most keepers standards. Raina survived (like Tim did in his innings) and he fell short of what could have been a century. So four could have been centuries go down for the game. He's a definite danger man!
I'm not going to wax lyrical about Mitch but after getting his 1000th run yesterday, it was awesome to see him bowl the way he did, the main aspect of his game we needed to see come out strongly. We have seen Punter play 1 innings so far that looked really promising and was damn near flawless too until being run out. Watto has been in sensational form and to see Mitch show a turn around (in India too where his last tour was below average as his recent efforts have been too) is vital, it really is.
Huss and North are the worries and most would agree on that.
Last note is that catch. Every bloody series against India we have controversy.
I have even noticed the stump mics ARE VERY LOUD. I've heard some classic chirps coming through the feed from our slip region.
It does get difficult to hear at times though with Ravi Shastri talking utter crap 90% of the time. Dammit his commentary is annoying. I am enjoying Brad Hogg's analysis and Michael Bevan chatting with the other Indian commentary members. Anyway back to my point, the catch!
Mitch was bowling, Dhoni edged it, Watto took it at first slip. IMMEDIATELY he didn't go overboard and indicated he wasn't sure if it carried.
The first replay didn't look too conclusive BUT the next angle from behind, you could see the ball under been cupped by Watto quite neatly and his fingers were under it, causing the ball to have that bounce like look as it cruised into his grasp. I wasn't sure at first, but that other angle was conclusive enough. No reason to argue about it and it was a relief to see the Umpires do the right thing.
When in doubt ASK THE THIRD UMPIRE! Logical and the safe thing to do.
Hopefully nothing more about it, just like the Zaheer Kahn thing is a thing of the past as well.
So, day 4 resumes with Watto and Katto (Kwatto duo) opening the batting with a lead of 23 runs.
This track is flat and choking the life of this test match. Mitchell's bowling spell really was outstanding under the circumstances and LBWs are on offer (Raina's dismissal). The only way I see a result on our part is dependent on a healthy scoring rate. If we could get 300 runs tomorrow, we'd be able to have a bowl at them on the final day, giving just enough of a margin to ensure the game is in our favour. Their spinners will be bowling very soon tomorrow and in honesty I don't see a result coming from this match. Sub-continent wickets are so depressing.
Hopefully there's a few surprises to take this game off-balance into our favour!
What an action shot! Even the picture looks excellent as Mitch delivered a spell of bowling we have been desperate to see. He took 5-64, his 6th 5-fer.
© Associated Press , Courtesy of Cricinfo.com
Article by Ian 03/10/2010