Ben Jensen 27 December 2011

By Ben Jensen My brother joined me today on the train trip up from Geelong, the train only about half full with cricket fans, about same as day 1 but we wonder if the Aussies were in better form would it have been full, let alone been more than a single train per hour?

Met up with Duncan (the MCC Member) at Warnie’s statue, bought the bro a guess pass and we were in.

Play resumed on an absolutely perfect day with Australia 6/277. Total contrast to day one, we had to apply the SPF500 from the word go, no shade on offer. Plenty of people in attendance too on our side of the ground, the Southern Stand visibly less full but the Members’ area as full as day 1 with 4 guest passes per member instead of the 2 making an impact.

Haddin was first to go. He had a life in the second over after nicking or cutting one through slips for four, but was out the very next ball, going after a wider ball giving Virender Sehwag a very simple catch. The matter didn’t quite end there however, the umpire calling for third umpire Paul Reiffell to adjudicate whether not Zaher Khan had overstepped the mark forcing Haddin to endure a couple minute wait halfway to the change rooms. Khan didn’t of course, Haddin on his way, adding six runs to his overnight score to be out for 27.

As had happened during the first two tests of the summer, it was the Vics to the rescue with Peter Siddle and James Pattinson making a few bonus runs for their team. Siddle was dismissed five runs after Haddin for 41 but Pattinson remained not out on 18. Ben Hilfenhaus put on a valuable and entertaining 19 runs while Nathan Lyon was last man out with 6, bowled by fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for his third, one of only four bowlers used by India. Khan picked up 4 wickets, Umesh Yadav 3 in his third Test. Ishant Sharma went wicketless but did bowl well on day 1 without reward, though he did lose the plot a bit this morning.

India only had to face three overs before lunch thanks to the resistance posed by the Aussies this morning, Gautam Gambhir looking a bit rusty while Sehwag looked very dangerous. Pattinson opened the bowling with Hilfenhaus, Siddle reserved for first change.

Spent our own extended lunch break showing the younger brother around a couple bars, starting off with the ubiquitous Bullring but then heading up to level 4 for a hidden gem with a wonderful view of East Melbourne. Bumped into a couple now ex colleagues up there. Only one telly up there however which we didn’t notice at first, so we missed Joe the Cameraman running over a helmet on his ‘segway’ two wheeled vehicle. We heard this via the free Vodafone radio with the channel 9 commentary but couldn’t quite understand what was going on!

Pattinson and Sehwag gave bay 13 something to jeer about, Pattinson’s follow-through extending a bit too straight down the pitch for Sehwag’s liking who expected the younger buck to get out of his way. Siddle naturally tried to calm things down by wading in with a few choice words backing up with Dandenong teammate. South African umpire had a wee word with Sehwag and that was that.

We made it back by the time the Aussies had their first wicket, Hilfenhaus tempting Gambhir with a shortish length ball just outside off-stump that was gobbled up by Haddin. This brought out Rahul Dravid, 15 days’ short of his 39th birthday with nearly 13,000 runs to his name but a mixed record down under.

By the tenth over Sehwag had his 8,000th Test run, a fantastic achievement for a man who was not even in the Indian side four years ago when they last toured these shores.

Dravid really was swinging like the proverbial rusty gate most of the time but stayed safe, the Aussies not really pressing him enough though getting a few chances. It was Sehwag though who really had the luck, put down no less than 3 times in the field. Haddin dived to his right for a catch off Pattinson only for the ball to strike him on the wrist, a particularly poor attempt.

Sehwag was eventually out however to cheers from all sides, for it meant the Little Master Sachin Tendulkar, who apparently is on track for 100 international hundreds, was in. It was fittingly Pattinson who got his man, though it was partially Sehwag’s own undoing, playing onto his stumps after a swashbuckling 67 runs off just 83 balls.

Tendulkar entered the arena like a Gladiator, his diminutive form obscured from our seat by the standing ovation of everybody in the ground. This set forth what I am reliably informed was the poorest beer sales of any third session ever in the MCC, with most resuming their seats to watch the Little Master at work.

And work he did, careful with the final 9 balls before tea including the final over from Mike Hussey. At Tea India were 2/99, Tendulkar on 2 and ‘The Wall’ Dravid a tinny 25 off 67 balls. Duncan was off home to look after the kids leaving the two Jensen brothers to watch what was sure to be a very long final session with at least a half hour to be added onto the session.

The final session was incredible, Tendulkar beginning by audaciously but controllably upper-cutting Siddle straight over slips off the first ball for SIX runs, the crowd in raptures. 9 off that first over. Hussey continued bowling from the other end, bowling another couple overs.

Dravid and Tendulkar both flayed the Aussie bowling, Dravid much more circumspect and Tendulkar a run a ball, soon catching Dravid. Pattinson, the pick of the bowlers in the second session, finally got back on in the 42nd over of the innings for Siddle who was going for 4 an over. He had a shout for LBW in his second over against Dravid but it wasn’t on.

Tendulkar kept edging ahead of Dravid for runs but the Wall typically nipped him back. Before long Hussey was back bowling, replaying Lyon at the Southern Stand end. Dravid was first to 50 despite fighting off nasty cramps in his legs and possibly even one arm, notching the milestone off 137 balls. Sachin was right back at him the next over with his 50 off 55 balls, brought up off a single from Lyon.

Hilfie and Lyon toiled but weren’t getting anywhere, so David Warner was brought on to bowl his.. leg spinners. With Lyon at the other end the tactic was clearly to make the batsman hit the ball and hopefully one of them would hole out; in Warner’s second over Tendulkar nearly did just that but surviving. Siddle replaced Warner next over and appeared to have Dravid out bowled but the umpire called for the ‘foot fault’ check; when they do that they are in doubt and sure enough Dravid survived, Siddle overstepping.

Siddle continued steaming in despite this setback, typically getting faster with each ball of an over. That he did in the last over of the day, bowling Tendulkar with an absolutely ripper of a ball. Tendulkar out for 73 from 98, the commentators on 9 finally silenced about this ‘will he or won’t he’ make his hundredth hundred; we heard that more often than the cliché ‘movement off the seam’ today. Siddle’s patience paid off though, ‘and he’s a Victorian!’ He could have done his nut in but didn’t, kept on putting the ball on a good length and low and behold, in one spell he has clean bowled the two top scoring batsman of all time.

Nightwatchman Ishant Sharma was next in to face just 3 balls. Siddle’s first to him was a short-pitched ball at 150kph, Sharma wisely letting it go along with the next two and seeing in stumps.

Great day of cricket; perfect weather and great results for either side. Some wag in the tail of the Aussies, without which they’d be stuffed, coupled with very nice batting from three of the greats of all time from India who finished at 3/214. Australia still very much in the game with the proviso of knocking off Dravid early tomorrow and keeping VVS Laxman from getting a start. After two great days as a guest of the MCC I will have to settle for the couch for the remainder of the game.



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