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.
Mission impossible. This is what Kumble & Co. would try to achieve. Australia are needed to score a record 413 to win the third Test of the series and the 17th on the trot. The last time back in 2001 the Aussies had won 16 and India proved to be a thorn in the flesh. The win at Sydney - though unsportingly achieved - was the 16th. That’s equal again. But for the magical 17th, its again India who seems to be in the way of the Australians.
India time and again looked out of sorts in this series and so was their plight on Day 3. With Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly - all back in the pavilion, the score was a dismal 125. The lead of 118 looked too useless. Except for Sehwag - who scored 43 - the Big 3 of Indian cricket did not contribute much. Dravid 3, Tendulkar 13 & Ganguly 0 - all tell the tale.
But surprisingly it was Pathan who played a much matured innings. Giving him company was the ever special Laxman. At 125/5, when the odds were again in Australia’s favor, both Laxman and Pathan carried the score forward. Treating the ball on merit, they kept the board ticking. From 125 to 160, 35 invaluable runs were added. Each run was priceless. When it seemed that Pathan would get to his 50, Clarke got the better of him, sending him back through Ponting taking the catch.
The hard hitting Dhoni then joined Laxman. Both got the innings going. Both ensured that the second innings score got past the 200 run mark. Each run scored was taking the target away from the Aussies. Dhoni played extremely well for his 38, before being dismissed by part-timer Symonds.
Another blow was given to the Indians by Symonds again in the same over. Kumble was caught out by Hussey. From 235/6, India was again in deep deep trouble at 235/8. The target at this stage for the Australians was 354.
But Laxman got a special and surprisingly much needed support in the form of R P Singh. He not only helped Laxman consolidate India’s position, but also showed that he too can put bat to ball authoritatively. The pair seemed much like Sachin and Harbhajan who had got together and frustrated the Australians at Sydney.
Ponting might have taken R P Singh lightly. And R P showed Ponting the light. Both the batsmen added 51 runs for the 9th wicket. That’s far too much against Australia in Australia and against bowlers like Lee & Johnson. These two frustrated the Aussies for unexpectedly longer duration. Finally on 30 R P was done in by Clarke. The Indian total was 286 at that stage and the Aussies target over 400. The Indian innings at last ended at 294 with the special Laxman being the last man out on 79 and Ishant Sharma remaining unbeaten on 4.
Australia had nearly 75 minutes and about 12-13 overs to negotiate safely in which they failed miserably. Rogers & Jaques began with confidence. Their 21 run opening partnership showed that 413 - the target was too small and easily achievable. But Pathan, who had a great run with the bat, did his magic with the ball too. Getting one to swing out, he got a thin edge to Dhoni. And on 43 Jaques was caught superbly by Jaffer at slips. Suddenly Australia looked out of sorts. Ponting and Hussey ended Day 3 with a score of 65/2, needing another 348 for the 17th victory on the trot.