Reports of Test matches played between India and Australia played previously. The current series is just round the corner. It is a good time to revive memories.
The score that Australia set for India to win the first Test is a mountain to scale, almost 500 runs. And hardly has any team done it. So does it seem for the Indians too. It’s pretty difficult that this Test would be written in golden words, as far as the Indians are concerned, unless India achieves that unachievable where no team has thus far reached. Overnight batsmen openers Rahul Dravid and Wasim Jaffer almost did India a favour by not getting out in the remaining 8 overs of the third day.
This now means India still need another 493 runs, in 180 overs with almost 5 runs an over and all the ten wickets intact. ''All the ten wickets intact'' scenario can change very fast when there are likes of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Hogg. At stumps on day 3 India were 6 for no loss and looking out of sorts. Earlier in the day the Aussies began with their overnight score of 32/0. Jaques and Hayden again looked a threatening pair that seemed as determined as they were in their first innings. They continued from where they left. Jaques once again crossed his fifty run mark - his 7th consecutive 50+ score. Hayden too seemed to be set, but as he was nearing his 50, Bhajji got the better of him.
One drop batsman and captain Ponting had a rare double miss in both the innings. Harbhajan got the better of him, thus completing his tally of 250 wickets. The middle order of Hussey, Clarke, Symonds and Gilchrist all scored freely, as the Indians really looked more than pitiable. With each run scored, they knew that the match was slipping out of their grip. But the question to ask was the match in India''s grip anytime? Well, it might have been just, at the end of day one. But Australia is a team which rarely allows the initiative to slip out of their hands.
But one thing is worth pondering for Ponting. Each time any of their batsmen looked set, he ''gifted'' away his wicket. Seems that the X-mas fever is still not down! It is not that only the Aussies gifted wickets, the Indians too gifted some easy runs through extras. That’s where Symonds was bowled by Zaheer. But the ball hitting the timber was only then when Zaheer had overstepped. The Indians bowlers Zaheer Khan and R.P. Singh bowled ordinarily in the first innings; but in the second both got one wicket each. Ponting declared a bit too late, probably feeling that his boys were scoring some easy runs. All the specialist Indian batsmen will have to bat out of their skins either two days or score a record 499 - which has still not been gotten by any team. The record score chased was 418/7 by West Indies. At the MCG it is just 332, which was more than 75 years ago. All the odds are against the Indians - and the history too.