Friday, January 27, 2012

6-166 with a day to go...

So there's a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms for Adelaide later today but at 6-166 with another 334 required to win, you'd expect India would be pushing it to last until late morning when that 60% likelihood kicks in.

Had they done a little better in the final session yesterday they might have been in a position where the cavalry arrives amid rolls of thunderheads, but pause for a moment to consider what occurred between tea and stumps.

We'd been summoned to the regular end of the month retired teachers' lunch, which coincided nicely with the lunch break at the cricket, so I'd been able to catch the first session along with the requisite radio commentary. Not all that much to report there, with Clarke and ponting seemingly batting time and building the lead while they waited for time to do its bit on what still looked like a good batting track.

With Clarke and Hussey gone in the first session and the lead crawling towards 600, I'd been careful to claim a seat at the table where I could see a TV screen in the public bar, though it wasn't close enough to be able to pick up too much actual detail.

Fair enough, things weren't going to get really interesting until the declaration, which came three overs into the middle session, a little earlier than I'd expected, but still probably ruling anything like an extensive warmup for the Indian batsmen out of the question.

I'd figured we might opt for a declaration about forty minutes into the session, so that if Gambhir and Sehwag had been able to sneak in a warmup in lieu of lunch they'd have been out in the paddock long enough to have lost some of the benefit, but the target was obviously that 600, so in they came.

Since we were into the Indian second dig a bit earlier than I'd expected I missed much of the mayhem as Sehwag set about carving the bowling.

Gambhir went early, but it's fairly obvious Sehwag doesn't need much in the way of warm ups to get his eye in as he blazed past the half century at better than a run a ball. It was possible to get the gist of what was going on from a distance, and frequent updates arrived courtesy of Warbo and Jimbo as they returned from the bar, with their data adding to what I'd managed to glean in the to and fro pursuit of schooners of Fat Yak.

Sehwag was still blazing when we left, headed for an appointment with a box of wine at the Post Office before heading back to the LHoC. Could've collected the box earlier, of course, but you don't want to leave a dozen Coonawarra Cab Merlots sitting in the boot for an hour or two if you can avoid it.

Consequently I missed Sehwag's dismissal for 62 out of a total of 80, close to 80% of the score, 53 deliveries. Waist high full tosses do get wickets, but they shouldn't be getting them at 1-80 when you're supposed to be looking to bat time.

At that point in the quest for ten good balls, ten batting errors or an equitable balance between the two we were on a fairly equitable one-all.

The classification of the next three to fall is going to depend on your particular bias.

I thought Dravid's catch to Hussey was the maintenance of the bowling plan, which I assumed was to keep plugging away there and you're going to get a nick, particularly if he's looking for the one that sneaks back through the gate. 3-100, and a couple of significant obstacles overcome.

As far as that classification goes I'd be placing the Tendulkar bat-pad dismissal off Lyon squarely in the good ball side of things. Lyon got it through a little higher off the deck, master batsman deceived. Others may have seen it differently, but on this deck under those circumstances I thought it was the offie doing what his job description called for.

And you can tick the bowling/captaincy box for Laxman's dismissal as well. Two fielders close in on the leg side, Shaun Marsh in a spot you might have thought superfluous and Laxman chips Lyon straight into the clammy claw. Red ticks and gold stars to captain and bowler.

What followed is one of those little incidents that has you scratching your head and wondering what the (expletive deleted) certain people were thinking.

Two overs and four balls to go, five-sixths of the top order in the sheds and in comes Sharma as a night watchman. Fair enough, if you accept the need for the night watchman.

Then again, with Ashwin, Sharma, Zaheer and Yadav to come after Saha do you really need to be protecting the remaining batsman?

But if you do accept the need, then you're not looking to the established bat to farm the strike are you?

The night watchie's there to hold up his end until stumps and then provide nuisance value into Day Five. When he (presumably it's him) eventually goes, in comes Saha and the two who'd posted a century partnership in the first dig set out to bat time with Ashwin in next.

Hell, on that basis you just might hang around until the weather kicks in.

But no, it seems like Kohli's needing to shield the tail ender, risky single, sharp bit of work from Hilfenhaus and we're waving goodbye to the second last recognized bat.

On that basis you'd have to expect proceedings to be rolled up fairly smartly later this morning before the clouds roll in and the rain tumbles down in Adelaide in January.

That's a prospect that has me more worried about the South Australian grape harvest than a four-nil result in a disappointing series.

Disappointing, that is, for anyone who was looking for something competitive...

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