By SAT sportsdesk
Melbourne: The MCG was bathing in a sea of blue on friday as India took their winning form into the 3rd and final one day international of the 2018/19 tour of Australia. At the innings break, Australia were 230 all out, with Yuzvendra Chahal starring for India to take 6 wickets for 42 runs in his 10 overs.
Top scorer for Australia was Peter Handscomb with 58 runs off 63 balls. Usman Khawaja 34 and Shawn Marsh 39 made valuable contributions but could not covert their innings into a big one. With 230 runs being a below par score, Australia were hoping for their new pace factory Richadson, Stanlake and Siddle to make early inroads into the strong India batting lineup. Like the first ODI they were hoping to take out top order Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli cheaply to put pressure on the Indian middle order. Rohit and Kohli are in fine form after making centuries in the first and second ODIs.
Siddle did take Rohit Sharma’s wicket early on and Dhawan got out to Stonis in the 16th over. Dhoni was promoted to number 4 in the absence of regular #4 Raidu and gave a chance to Stoinis on his first ball but Maxwell could not hang on. Earlier, Kohli was also dropped on 10 by Peter Handscomb at slip. There were also two close run out chances that the Aussies missed. Without scoreboard pressure, Finch had no choice but to bring in the field. The experience of Kohli and Dhoni, with more than 20000 international runs between them, was expected to take India through to an easy win. However, with Dhoni playing slow and farming the strike, Kohli’s rhythm was disrupted and he nicked one to the keeper in frustration. Out came young Jhadhav and formed an important partnership with Dhoni to get the ask to 59 runs off 53 balls. Then something in Dhoni’s brain clicked to play a maiden off Zampa’s last over and the ask suddenly became 50 off 33 balls ,much to the pleasure of the fox sports commentators who called it game on for Australia. Dhoni (87 not out) had the last laugh by increasing the scoring rate with Jadhav (61 not out) to complete another successful chase and win the series. The old master showed how its done in style – keep wickets in hand and take the chase deep into the final overs of the game. India ended their most successful tour on Australian soil winning the test series 2-1 and now the ODI series 2-1
Indian fans once again attended the MCG in big numbers giving a feeling of an India home game at the Eden Gardens. The Australia cricket fans seem to taken to the fast pace of the Big Bash and Cricket Australia will have to review the scheduling to keep the international games relevant in their minds. It would have been great to see the MCG full if the fans of both teams attended in force. Friday being a working day, the Australian Open along with the absence of run machines Stephen Smith & David Warner would have also played a part.
By SAT Sports Desk
Sydney: As India continued its march towards a series win over Australia on day 3 of the SCG test between India and Australia, the Indian supporters celebrated the heroes of the Indian team in the test. The latest chant from the Bharat Army was “Anhone ko hone karde, hone ko anhone, Jaddu-uu, Kulde-eep, Vi-haaa-riii” (Jadeja, Kuldeep, Vihari made the impossible possible). Jadeja and Kuldeep are considered India’s spinning weapons on the traditional SCG pitch which normally takes the spin on or after day 3 of the test match. Their bowling will be crucial for India to win this game as they have to take 20 wickets on a flat pitch not offering the seamer much.
Middle-order batsman, Vihari made an important 42 runs in the first innings of this test batting at number 6 before being given out on review. At the MCG test, he soaked up valuable time as the makeshift opener to take the shine of the new ball. Other important contributions have come from Pujara with 3 centuries as the leading run scorer for India and Rishabh Pant with his 155 not out in the SCG test.
He has also made valuable 30 odd scores throughout the test series, to become India’s second highest scorer after Pujara and also has shown incredible energy behind the stumps in his wicketkeeper role. He had a verbal duel with Australian skipper at the MCG test, in which Tim Paine famously invited him to babysit his kids and later Paine’s wife posted a photo of Pant with their kids on Twitter and comments – “Best Babysitter”.
India’s captain Virat Kohli has had a quiet series comparatively, with the highlight being his century in the Perth test which was a losing cause for India. Not that he would be complaining! His teammates have performed and have India on the verge of a historic test series win in Australia. The media has been fascinated with Kohli and the way he has captained the Indian team. There were also high expectations from his batting given he made 4 centuries on India’s last tour to Australia.
The Aussie team may have planned to keep Kohli quiet as a tactic to keep the Indian team on the back foot, reminiscent of the days when Tendulkar was playing in the team and taking his wicket early assured an Indian loss more often than not. Kohli’s team has proven itself to be much more resilient and balanced. Virat himself has grown as a captain through the course of the series to be calmer and less emotional on the ground than at the start.
Also seen in the stands of SCG was Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, the Indian cricket teams unofficial mascot. He is present at most of the games India plays and has the Indian flag with the words “Miss you Tendulkar” painted on his upper body. He was a crowd favorite and at one point, a queue formed with fans looking to take selfies with him. He obliged and did not refuse anyone.
By SAT Sports Desk
Sydney: India is in the box seat after day 2 of the final test of the 4 match series at the SCG thanks to a classy 193 by Pujara and an impactful 159* by the 21 year old Indian keeper, Rishabh Pant. Ravindra Jadeja also contributed with a timely 81 missing out on a century, his dismissal leading to India declaring their 1st Innings at 622/7 and sending in Australia to bat for testing 10 overs before the close of play. The Australian bowlers had no answer to Pujara’s patience and were eventually broken down by the 204 run partnership by Pant & Jadeja. Nathan Lyon was the leading wicket taker with 4 wickets on a day where Australia even bowled batsmen Khawaja and Head to break the final partnership. The key difference between the Indian first innings at the last test at the MCG and this test, has been the higher run rate of the, 3.71 which lead India to cross 600. This compared to a run rate of 2.61 in Melbourne. It has been a good toss to win for India in both the games and the batsman have exposed Australia’s fast bowling after long days in the field with the mercury 30 degrees and above. Shane Warne on fox cricket has been critical of the bowling with the harshest comments reserved for Mitchelle Starc and his performance. Australian captain Tim Paine in the post match confirmed Starc has “just been low on confidence”.
The only blemish by India on day 2 was a dropped catch by keeper Rishabh Pant with Khawaja on 0, who came out to bat in the opening slot in this test. With the pitch conjunctive to batting and a hot day predicted on Day 3 in Sydney, Australia will be looking to keep India on the field as long as possible and put up a positive batting display. They will have to tackle India’s two spinners, Jadeja & Kuldeep Yadav who will likely do majority of the bowling with fast bowlers Shami and Bumrah coming in for short bursts with the temperature expected to reach 38 degrees.
India has ended day 1 of the 4th test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 4/303, paving the way for its first series victory on Australia soil. The day belonged to opener Mayank Agarwal who made 77 runs and Chetshwar Pujara who ended the day not out on 130, much to the delight of the Indian fans who again turned out in big numbers. The noisiest section of the ground was occupied by the Bharat Army which kept the drums beating and the volume high, cheering every run and milestone. The loudest cheer was reserved for Pujara’s 100 as echos of Pu-ja-ra were heard throughout the ground. With India leading the series at 2-1, Kohli would be looking at bat throughout day 2 using the MCG victory as a template and effectively take Australian victory out of the equation. India need to draw or win the SCG test to ensure their first and historic test series victory on Australian soil.
By Shobhit Nanda
Melbourne: The Bharat Army was out in force on Day 4 of boxing day test match between India vs Australia at the MCG. The entertainment was on with regular banter, drums and a lot of enthusiastic slogans. An interesting bantar in the form of a song was performed when Australia’s number 3 batsman, Usman Khawaja, resumed his innings after lunch. As he walked out of the dugout, the Bharat army started singing in hindi – “Khawaja mere Khawaja, Jaldi Wapas Aaaja” which translates to “Khawaja my Khawaja, come back quickly (by getting out)”, twisting the words of a song in the famous Bollywood movie – Jodha Akabar. Khawaja who is of Pakistani decent would have been able to understand hindi as it is very similar to Urdu, the native language of Pakistan. Khawaja did not last long in the middle, as he was found himself out leg before wicket by a skidding delivery from Indian bowler Shami, plumb in front.
Australia has a mountain to climb, chasing 399 in their 2nd innings to win or play rest of Day 4 and Day 5 to draw the game. Both days have rain predicted and the Aussies will be hoping for some rain to help their cause as there is so much time left in the game and the wicket will keep breaking up to make the lives of the batsman harder. It would require some batting for the Aussies to prevent an Indian victory.
India in the morning came out with intent to score some quick runs before declaring, after losing 5 wickets in the last session on Day 3. They had the choice of enforcing the followon on Day 3 but made a choice not to, to ensure Australia bats last on the deteriorating wicket. Rishab Pant (33) and Mayank Pandey (42) did the bulk of the scoring in the morning session to take the second innings score to 106/6 before the declaration about 1 hour into the first session.
At drinks during the second session, Australia were 3/95, still requiring 304 additional runs for an improbable victory.
From Shobhit Nanda @ the MCG
Melbourne: With the test series equally poised at 1-1, India and Australia went into the boxing day test match with high expectations. Winning the toss was always going to be crucial and India’s captain Virat Kohli called correctly to bat first. This gives Indian, looking for their first series win in Australia, a good chance of taking the lead.
The Melbourne Indian community was at the ground in big numbers and no doubt joined by interstate & international visitors to attend the world famous day 1 of the boxing day test match at the MCG. The organisers for their part created exclusive Indian fan zones on either side of the ground where a sea of blue and a wave of tricolour flags were seen in numbers. The day ended up being the biggest crowd for an India – Australia boxing day at over 70K people.
Morning and Afternoon Sessions
The day started with a new opening pair for India, Mayank Agarwal on debut and Hanuma Vihari promoted up the order. They batted out the first hour and did their job to take the shine off the new ball before Vihari got ruffled up by a bouncer hitting his helmet and then later ended by hitting another short one in the air to the keeper. He made 8 runs but crucially batted for 66 balls. The day belonged to Agarwal as he reached his 50 on debut and looked good until he also hit a short one on the leg side to the keeper to get out on 76. A debut century was missed but none a less a positive start from the openers.
The morning and after lunch sessions were slow scoring affairs. The run rate at one point dipped to below 2 runs an over such was the pace at which Indians were batting. The Australian fast bowlers kept a good line and length and did not give away easy runs on what looks like a slow batting wicket. Hero of the second test, Australian off spinner Nathan Lyon was ineffective on this pitch and may come into play later in the game.
Post Tea Session
Mayank Agarwal at the stroke of tea lost his wicket and setting the stage for Virat Kohli to show his trade to an eager MCG crowd devoid of runs and wickets. He walked out as the Indian crowd cheered and sections of the crowd booed. He got off to a brisk start, scoring his first 20 runs at almost run a ball to increase the run rate before shifting gears gradually as the end of the day neared. His partnership with Pujara yielded over 90 runs off 200+ balls in the last session. There were a few opportunities created with the new ball and a half chance to get Kohli by a catch behind was missed. The day ended at 215/2 and even though the scoring rate was low, India ended up with a great position to take control of the game on Day 2 with captain Virat Kohli on 47* and Pujara in the 70s and looking as solid as ever.