Once again, Laxman and Dravid have put Australia to the sword in spectacular fashion. On this occasion the partnership realised 303. In “that” famous match in March 2001, the partnership between Laxman (281) and Dravid (180) was 376.
In both cases, the partnerships were match winning efforts.
Today, India needs just 193 runs to win its first Test on Australian soil since 1981 and to go 1 up in series – for the first time ever in Australia. To achieve the 193 run, all 10 wickets are in hand and they face a rather undermanned Australian bowling attack that lacks confidence. Which isn’t to detract from the Indians – what goes around comes around – the Aussies lack confidence because of the treatment handed out by the Indians.
In recent times, I have expressed concerns for Australian cricket when we reach “life after McGrath and Warne”. Have we reached that time now? McGrath has been perpetually two Tests away from returning since the end of the Bangladesh series and it remains to be seen if Warne does return to Test cricket.
The series has highlighted how valuable those two bowlers have been. What has been highlighted to me is the value of their economy rates. Warne, McGrath and Gillespie are all misers – always proving hard to score from, even if the flow of wickets is held up. Although it is hard to measure in concrete terms, that constant pressure has always helped to achieve wickets. There is not much point in a batsman occupying the crease without scoring runs – and that pressure can draw rash, frustrated shots.
Gillespie in this series has bowled well, without much success. I believe that the Indian’s tactics have been to see him off and score off the other bowlers – who have all provided ample scoring opportunities. That sort of relief is not usually available against the Australian bowling attack.
Last Test, Bichel moved from the 23rd most expensive Test bowler (in runs per over) of all time to 15th. Bichel took valuable wickets this Test but has still been very expensive. Bracken and MacGill (who has bowled an alarming amount of trash this Test) have also gone for plenty. We may look forward to the return of the excitement machine, Brett Lee, for the next Test, but I don’t know that he will have the answers. The strike power will be welcome but he is the 8th most expensive bowler of all time!
The Test is there for the taking for India and they have earned the chance. Australia was careless yesterday and probably will suffer the punishment. Australia must be rated some chance, but given the staff and the momentum, it would seem a long shot.