I honestly had a draw on the cards after seeing the way wicket has behaved and the way the scoring rates have been up and down, but India's devastating blows with their bowlers doing the job as one, has ensured this match continues to be one of uncertainty!
192 all out, India 4/55, 161 needed for victory, it makes the 5th day a very tense day of cricket to watch and an exciting start to the summer.
Ben Hilfenhaus (website), one of my favorite players on a personal note, delivered an unexpectedly brutal spell of bowling to pick up three vital wickets as India's run chase began a lot sooner than expected.
Hilfy's first wicket of Gambhir was dodgy but to follow up with two more wickets with two guys who are both dangerous, attacking and in-form has just helped our cause. Doug Bollinger also managed a wicket before close of play.
I did question Hilfy's abilities on the Indian tracks, but with the wicket not maintaining characteristics of the Day 2 has proven to be working for him. His shorter ball tactic worked and the wicket contributed importantly which will give Hilfy, Douggie and Mitch some serious motivation heading into the final days play. Hilfy's done his job, it was essential to get early wickets and as a result of his efforts we have a chance to win this game. I hope he can get Sachin's wicket!
Our batting was painful to witness. The guys really didn't do a good job out there, but every tour to India we can always expect to see atleast one really shocking batting display. I also think the Indian bowlers just did a very good job as well.
Shane Watson was once again impressive and continued his golden form with 56 runs, following his second test century (two in the opening Tour match). He was aggressive too which we needed in order to advance that lead. His innings ended with a flash of bad luck, chopping the ball onto his stumps. Unfortunately Punter was dismissed in an effort to attack (playing the pull shot, bring on the media). Michael Clarke was sent packing early even though he had a lifeline handed to him when Ishant Sharma bowled a no-ball. Something he rarely does. Pup has had a dismal test in his new promo spot.
Simon Katich scored 37 runs in a gritty effort to steer that lead onwards but after a decent stand with Michael Hussey (28) they both failed as they attempted to edge us forward. We needed one big innings from someone after Watto.
We couldn't rely on the lower order again so it really was up to the middle order who have been easily dismissed by the Indian bowlers.
Sadly, Marcus North has failed again and you had to spare a thought for him as he sat waiting for his turn to bat. He looked very uneasy and nervous. Understandably. To be dropped from a team in your profession you have dreamt of representing and your surreal start to your career spirals into inconsistent nightmares, it's not easy. I feel bad for the bloke, but it is the way the game goes. We can't afford inconsistency and as supporters we know how frustrating it is. Imagine how these guys feel when they go through it!
I think we may see Phillip Hughes or Steven Smith adding another appearance to their stats come the 2nd Test, but knowing the selectors Marcus will have another chance. To me as an onlooker who really wanted Marcus to get some good runs, I think it's best if he's given a breather. Many chances already. Pity but he is already looking short on confidence, keeping him going and if he still struggles, it will just dent his confidence even more. He's not getting any younger either.
So our shocker total of 192 is done and in the stats records. Should we lose this test, the fault is obvious.
We now have 161 runs to play with and to defend it we need six perfect deliveries, six perfect opportunities.
Generally I am positive and I do have a very good feeling, but I think it's more excitement than anything else. One good partnership will dampen that quickly and with MS Dhoni, VVS still to bat and the ever-dangerous Sachin Tendulkar just grinning out in the middle knowing he can easily win this given his abilities that need no further mention of, India are definite favorites to win this. They should win it.
But as mentioned I am always a believer we can win from any situation. If Hilfy continues where he left off and Mitch (who is built for these situations) and Douggie can play their part, it will just take two wickets and the game will be in our favor. So two wickets in the first session and we have this game, another wicket would obviously really give the guys the momentum and ambition to go for the kill! It's about partnerships for India, wickets for us. 161 is not a daunting task but it can be tricky.
Let's hope for a spectacular win for the Baggy Green and no drop catches from Simon Katich.
Feel the rush! Hilfy ready to punch the air in celebration as Sehwag is dismissed. The Baggy Green are fighting back after our batsmen have left our bowlers with a very asking challenge.
© AFP, Courtesy of Cricinfo.com