Mohali: Mickey Arthur’s fascination with homework has led to Shane Watson going home. But now his wards have presented him with a new vocation that involves groundwork.
We have no idea what the Arthur Manual suggests, but to save the Aussies from being burnt down to Ashes against England a few months from this date, the coach has to drill in the significance of building a high-rise once they have put in the hard work to get the groundwork right.
Or else, the Friday in Mohali will keep coming back to haunt them. The Australians, ‘led’ by Michael Clarke, failed to latch on to the good start they were provided by the openers, on the second day of the third Test, here. As a result, the end of the day score of 273 for seven shows that the Indians, once again in this series, have the upper hand.
On a sunny day, Clarke won the toss and chose to bat. After rightly investing in patience, the Australians should have cashed in to make it their day, to implant doubts of an ‘Aussie fightback’ into the Mahendra Singh Dhonis’ minds. Instead, two acts of childish exuberance have given the hosts hope that in spite of a day being lost, not everything is lost in their quest to go 3-0 up in the four-match series.
From 138 without loss, they finished with seven down adding just 135 more. It’s like an overnight transformation of Rapunzel to Rakesh Roshan… A hair-raising effort, really!
There were two events on the day that could turn out to be the turning point in determining the outcome of the match. Too early, some would scream, but then, in a Test, like in chess, every move counts.
The first one came when Clarke walked in at the fall of David Warner’s wicket. He had elevated himself to the No.3 slot, eager to take extra responsibility. The scorecard read 139 for one. Warner and Ed Cowan had provided a start that any side, any day would take happily.
With Cowan looking in good touch, Clarke, who is in a mind-blowing form himself, just needed to apply the basics and stay for as long as possible because the pitch, unlike in Chennai and Hyderabad, didn’t seem to be the burial ground of batsmen. That would have dented Indians’ sky-high confidence for sure.
But Clarke stepped out the first ball he faced to block in his unique front-foot defence, missed the flight of Ravindra Jadeja and was promptly stumped by Dhoni. An utterly irresponsible and foolish dismissal when your declared intentions are to shoulder responsibility.
After going wicket-less in the first session, two wickets in two balls brought the Indians right back into the game.
A similar adventure ended comeback-man Brad Haddin’s stay at the wicket later in the day. That was the second careless act of the day for the Australians. Haddin was comfortably negotiating the Indian attack and with Steven Smith, was nurturing a promising partnership. The day was 93 overs old, into ‘added time’ which was being played to make up for the lost first day. Australia were four down and had it stayed that way , the visitors would have been in a really commanding position.
But the 35-year-old went after a wide Ishant Sharma delivery only to draw the ball back onto the stumps. Not only did Haddin lose his wicket, it also paved the way for the Indians to snare two more to end the day on top.
But mention must be made of the fine efforts from Warner (71), Cowan (86) and the young Smith (58 batting), who ensured that the Australia scorecard didn’t have a Zimbabwe-like look.
For the Indians, Jadeja was the best of the lot with three scalps.
The Mohali myth, one that says it is an oasis for fast bowlers in the Great Indian Desert of grassless pitches, has been put to rest in this Test. If anything, it will help the spinners as the game progresses. And the Australians could well pay for their two acts of indiscipline.
At home, taking advantage of a spinning track is an easy ‘home-work’ for the Indians.