03 January 2012

2nd Test, day 1: A day courtesy of the fast bowling trio

*For the Baggy Green Blog Year End article (Stats, talking points and memorable moments) here's the article link:
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The 100th Test at the SCG has begun with 13 wickets falling on day 1 and you'd have to say our bowlers have once again delivered the goods.
The new trio of James Pattinson (playing his first First-class game at the SCG), Peter "Pedro" Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus took all 10 Indian wickets and rolled them for 191 runs.

With Ricky Ponting (44*) and Michael Clarke (47*) at the crease the trail is just 75 runs with 7 wickets still in hand.
We unfortunately witnessed another batting collapse of sorts, this time with the top order, but day 2 will hopefully be another day belonging to the Baggy Greens unless we have another day of wild momentum changes. This is a gift to try and take the game from India but it still looks tricky.

Full scorecard via ESPN Cricinfo

Bowling: India 191 all out
James Pattinson 4-43, Ben Hilfenhaus 3-51, Peter Siddle 3-55

It started off with James Pattinson picking up a wicket in the first ball of the day.
Pitched up, sufficient swing and Gambhir was dismissed for a duck continuing his tough run.
India had a bit of luck as, oddly enough, Ricky Ponting dropped a sitter at slip off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus but James Pattinson made sure he removed the danger man Sehwag.
James picked up 4 wickets and came ever so close, as he did in Melbourne, to another 5 wicket haul.

With his inexperience he has shown unbelievable composure and maturity. His confidence is sky high and he's the driving force for this bowling trio.
He's tall and strong and has found further strength in his bowling partner Pedro Siddle, who has a contagious aggression which just makes seeing the two operate in tandum as pure brutality!
It's the aggression I've missed, the die-hard attitude and there is this bizarre sense that these three blokes believe they are regularly due a wicket. It is refreshing and seeing James deliver the way he is is nothing more than insanely outstanding!

Peter Siddle picked up his 100th Test wicket with the very last Indian wicket to fall!
What a moment for Pedro and instead of a crazy follow through with sheer delight, his expression was more that of utter delight and relief with that milestone achieved.
It has taken him 29 matches to do it and I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of his journey dating back to his debut against India.
Like James, he also managed an early breakthrough picking up the wicket of Rahul Dravid for 5 after trying to ease himself into his innings.
Congrats Pedro on your achievement! Keep roaring in.

Ben Hilfenhaus really has returned rejuvenated.
His short balls look tough to negotiate (he picked up two wickets against the tail with perfectly directed bouncers), he's maintaining his swing of the ball for longer periods and when the swing on offer subsides he does what Craig McDermott told his bowlers to do...pitch it up in the right zone!
The advice is paying off and the trio have delivered once again.

Hilfy even found himself on a hat-trick after removing Ashwin with an outswing pitched just outside of off which swung away late to find the edge.
He removed Zaheer Khan with one of those short pitched deliveries and then bowled a superb follow up delivery to Ishant Sharma which had plenty of movement. Ishant kept it out well but was removed by Hilfy not long after.
Hilfy built up good pressure from his end which alllowed Pedro and James to do the mean business.

Nathan Lyon may come into action with the Indian 2nd innings but I am sure many would have been in favor of the inclusion of Ryan Harris.
Seeing the way the trio performed claiming all 10 wickets was a relief for the Harris void scenario but I hope Nathan does come in play for the 2nd innings to do his part and assist our bowlers.

Batting: 3-116 from 26 overs
Michael Clarke 47*, Ricky Ponting 44*

I still maintain my belief in the David "Pitbull" Warner/Ed Cowan partnership but unfortunately the Pitbull was dismissed for 8 at the end of the first over.
In all fairness it was a brilliant delivery that was well pitched up forcing him to play at it. The result was an edge to the slips.

Shaun Marsh has continued his poor run from Melbourne with a golden duck this time. He has only made three runs from three innings and it concerns me. I was so excited to see how he'd go this series and the discipline he showed against Sri Lanka and even South Africa in his 1st innings at Newland's hasn't been evident in his batting. His nerves may be getting the better of him.
You get the feeling that should he struggle this Test in the 2nd innings he may get a chance in the 3rd Test but Usman Khawaja would likely be eyed as the comeback kid.
Come on Shaun!

Ed Cowan looks good at the top of the order. He was very unlucky with his very first dismissal and just got out in a daft way for his 2nd innings at the MCG.
This time around he was undone by a Zaheer Khan LBW shout. It was a fifty-fifty call but it was tough to see Ed would off the park for 16 runs.
Like David Warner, I will continue to be confident in Ed's abilities. I am sure he will settle for a big innings by the end of this series.

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke stepped up.
The batting collapses have become something we should all be used to by now so it's more a case of whether it will be the top order or the middle order.
For day 1 it was the top order. I shouldn't joke about these things but it is amusing, I guess you need find some kind of humour amidst the confusion with these ongoing collapses.

In any case, the seniors stepped up and I am really excited to see how Punter is going!
I have a really, really good feeling about this innings for the Maestro.
He scord 60 and 62 at the MCG which was quite important under the circumstances. He's followed up this innings changing his guard when needed and really lunging into his shot selections of choice.
There was a definite touch of class when he played the short deliveries, not showing any fear and playing with control. Back foot and front foot pull shots were on show and his front foot shots were at the best of times to the off-side played with control.
He's become a nervous starter but he seemed to get settled into things quite quickly.
As it was at the MCG, Punter is leading a recovery mission and he has the Skipper alongside him to assist.

Michael came out to bat with an unbranded bat in hand.
I am not sure whether it was purely to give exposure for the McGrath foundation, whether it was to be a tribute of sorts to batsmen of the past (before the days of bat branding) or whether he has left Slazenger after a long term relationship as his bat sponsor but he looked like a man of class from an older generation.

*Note: I was informed by a loyal follower of the blog on Twitter after posting this that Michael's contract with Slazenger expired at the end of 2011.

I have always big a fanatic of Michael's execution of straight drives, cover drives and square drives and today was no exception, even if it didn't result in a run.
His blazed three fours in a row of the bowling of Umesh Yadav, two of them being front foot drives.
It's special to see the Skipper stand tall at his home ground for an important Test match.
He's off in style and it would be a HUGE relief to see him and Punter put together a partnership worth remembering for the match.

The verdict for day 1?

The partnership currently stands on 79 runs and 4.60 which is rather impressive under the circumstances.
Michael Hussey is still to follow after his vital 89 in Melbourne, while Brad Haddin may offer us something of value which would be welcome after his horendous inconsistency. His confidence seems totally shot with the bat.

After these two we're down to the tail but it's a bloody awesome tail isn't it?
The boys can graft and all play their shots but I just hope we don't have another case where all their hard work with the ball is undone and they're required for batting duties to just give us an edge.

The current position is ideal for the 1st day of a Test match and against India I will take it any day.
Day 2 is going to be so important for our middle order. It could ultimately be the defining innings for the game map.

A day that belongs to the Baggy Greens.

Pedro Siddle celebrates his 100th Test wicket! Well done you champ.
© Getty Images

Ben Hilfenhaus celebrates with his team-mates as he brought about an Indian lower order downfall to keep them under 200
© Getty Images

Ricky Ponting aka The Maestro looked in fine touch. He's had a good series thus far and has kept a low profile. Could the 100th SCG Test be where he scores that well awaited century? I hate speculating but this was where he played his 100th Test and scored a century in each innings. Come on Punter
© Getty Images

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Sebastian said...

What a beautiful day of test cricket! I can't wait for Friday when I'll be at the SCG. Twice in a row now Pattinson has missed a 5-fer simply because his team-mates have gotten them first, what a great setup of players!

Again, a small batting collapse. One more to add to the list I guess, very annoying.

I'm slightly concerned about what may happen if Watto is fit for Perth, We may lose Cowan as an opener! I really hope that doesn't happen, this is completely unlike me, but stay hurt a little bit longer Watto, please?

I always was a big fan of Khawaja, Marsh is excellent too, but perhaps should have had more than a T20 match as recovery? In any case, we're on top so it's small niggles rather than anything.

Here's to the boys batting out another 5 or 6 sessions and really grinding India out of the match and the tour. Hanging out for 4-0!

Joshua said...

I think the BBL exposure was the reason for Marsh as well as Warner's wickets...I love Marsh! i am sure he is surely a test material...he will surely play well in the second innings or the next game!and if Watson is fit, i think Warner should be dropped for him! and had watson played today, the mini-collapse could have been averted.i say this coz i dont think Zaheer khan is that deadly against right hand batsmen!If Watson is ready as a batsman, he should be played in WACA where Ryan Harris can also replace Lyon! i believe Cowan and Watson would make an ideal opening pair!

Ian said...

Must also say the use of Ed Cowan at short leg is becoming a very effective tactic.
He's owning that position...must just try have the top spot of the batting owned as well come the end of the series.

Sylvester said...

I still have faith in the top 3 coming good, just a shame we have T20 cricket in the middle of a test series. Warner does need to iron out some issues with his balancing, Cowan is looking more comfortable in Test cricket while Marsh seems rusty but what he showed in his first 3 matches has me interested to see what he can do.

Ian said...

Sebastian, enjoy the game.
Stapo, our other contributor at times, will be headed down for a few days of the Test.
Usually gives us some good feedback from key role players.

Funny, you want to Watto out longer, Joshua is in favor of Watto returning. I like the idea of Watto back for his bowling offering as well but truth to be told I don't see him throwing his arm over anytime soon. I am also 100% for him dropping down the order.
Would like the Warner/Cowan duo to continue a bit longer and so it should. Hughes had enough chances, I am sure these guys can form something.
If a decision were made Watto would slot in for Warner better, although Warner and Watto have an idea of each others games quite well.

Let's see what happens but I'm hoping for something special from Punter & Clarkey.

Thanks for your opinions dudes.

Ian said...

Very well said Sly.
Pretty much how I feel on the matter.

Peter said...

Hey how good was Michael Clarke! I was very critical of his batting last test,but he came out positive, showed great skills and great character. Ponting was a bit scratchy in parts, but i'm so impressed with both of them taking control of the game. Well done boys. I also endorse those comments from Sylvester. The top three didn't perform today, but Marsh and Cowan at least look as though they have a game suited to test cricket. I'm not totally certain about Warner yet, but lets give the three of them a chance (at least while our middle order is showing some backbone!).

In the 90's - 00's when we were so dominant, new batters in the team were not so exposed 'cos when they failed there was always one or two of the team who dragged us out of trouble (usually Gilly!). We don't have that luxury now so we are getting some bad results. We just have to ride through that, let the blokes who have the skills and temperament gain the experience, then reap the rewards. I think the selectors are picking the best team at present ... and I think we'll still get a few bad tests, but win a lot more than we lose :)

I agree with Joshua ... Watson should replace Warner if he is fit.

Sebastian said...

Really looking forward to the game! I really hope I get to see Pattinson & Siddle bowling, so fast & so much aggression, would be incredible to see.

I'm a bit lost about the batting lineup, I love watching Watson & Khawaja bat, but don't want anyone in the current line-up to leave (Haddin for Paine/Wade though...).

India doesn't seem to have any answer to Siddle/Pattinson/Hilfenhaus, and if Harris plays in Perth (I suspect he will) it becomes even worse for them - so we don't *need* Watto for his bowling.

It also appears that Cowan is considered the weaker of the two openers by the selectors, so he'd be the one to miss out if Watto returns before he can throw in a couple of big scores (unless Hussey pulls 4 or 5 bad scores on the trot, then they may put Watto in at #6).

I just think that twice now, Khawaja has been dropped without just cause because Ponting has come back from injury/childbirth and I'd hate to see that happen to Cowan, who's really talented but not 'in the system' so he'll find it harder to get back in.

Bah, I'ma just watch Australia & cheer for a 4-0 scoreline!

Matthew said...

In my opinion, if Watson is not fit to bowl, he shouldn't come in to the side as a batsman. He only averaged 24 through 2011, with only one haf century. On average he only faced 41 balls per innings. So he wasn't making runs or seeing of the new ball. If he does come back into the lower order, who does he replace> Clarke,Hussey and Ponting are all in good form.

As for Marsh, I had my doubts when the selectors backed his fitness and form on one T20 innings. I would have rathered Khwaja to get a decent chance to show his talent, not just one or two maches when other playrs are unavailable.

Big Nose Stu said...

Langer working wonders with our top order, give him a life time contract because he is such a great bloke. He isn't called the Brown nosed gnome for nothing.

Ian said...

Matthew has a fair point regarding Watto.

Punter finally scored that long awaited 40th Test century!
I see it has been 34 innings since his double century against Pakistan. In that time he has scored 10 half-centuries.

Finally! So stoked.
Also well pleased for Michael Clarke. Perfect situation for him.
Will he get his double century?

Just had a gut feeling Punter would do it.