Boxing Day Test lives up to the hype barring umpiring blunders
Apart from the umpiring blunders, Day One of the Test lived up to the Boxing Day hype
Nevermind the umpiring blunders and initial rain delays that almost threatened to ruin Boxing Day, Day One of the first Australia-India Test was a thrill-a-minute ride for the 70,000 odd that gathered here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) yesterday.
Zaheer Khan celebrates Australia skipper Michael Clarke's
wicket on Day One of the first Test at the Melbourne Cricket
Ground yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Triggered off by some enterprising strokeplay from David Warner, Ricky Ponting's rousing ovation was swiftly followed by scenes of despair when the former Australia captain felt the wrath of a ferocious Umesh Yadav bouncer on the side of his helmet grill.
When Ponting tried to steer one to the on-side, he fell over -- signs of a batsman on the decline. But India's bowlers didn't take advantage of his rattled balance -- bowling too short and wide -- that allowed Ponting to pull with ease.
But, he struggled while coming across a well-directed bouncer. Before Ponting's arrival, Yadav had Warner caught behind off a misdirected bouncer, quickly followed by Shaun Marsh's scalp, caught at gully by Virat Kohli.
Ishant had set up the four-years-in-the-making contest with Ponting with a good first over, but lost his rhythm soon. Debutant Ed Cowan waited patiently to execute his beloved cut shot, besides one half-chance he gave India in over No 29.
R Ashwin started well with the newish ball -- extracting bounce and turn -- but couldn't unsettle the duo of Ponting and Cowan, who constructed a steady 113-run stand for the third wicket. Around this time, India's pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Ishant and Yadav bowled a bit too short.
As the innings progressed, Ponting regained his balance, as displayed by a gorgeous on-drive off Yadav in over number 33. Then came an inspirational over from Yadav to Ponting. After the first ball exploded off a length, two balls later, Ponting was squared up with a peach that found VVS Laxman's safe hands at second slip. Yadav had his third wicket, a star was born.
Skipper Michael Clarke displayed great tenacity in countering some lethal leg-cutters from Ishant that maliciously took off the surface. Zaheer then returned to the attack to claim two wickets with balls that he wouldn't rate as his finest.
While Clarke chopped one on, Michael Hussey was dismissed with a terrifying bouncer that brushed
everything but his bat. Two overs later, Cowan edged one to Dhoni -- giving Ashwin his first wicket on Australian soil.
Then came a passage of play that perturbed the experts. Dhoni let Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle milk easy singles by removing mid-on, allowing the duo to rotate the strike at ease. They remained unbeaten when stumps were drawn -- having put on 53 runs.
Australia 1st innings: 277-6 (Ed Cowan 68, Ricky Ponting 62; Umesh Yadav 3-96, Zaheer Khan 2-49).