The India-Australia Saga: Back To the Doug-Outs

Prthvir SolankiCorrespondent INovember 3, 2009

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 2:  Doug Bollinger poses during the NSW Blues Cricket headshots session at the Sydney Cricket Ground October 2, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Chapter two

Back to the Doug-outs

It was around 2:30 PM in Delhi when the Indian fielders came out to take their positions after Ricky Ponting asked Dhoni's men to field first.

It was a very surprising decision, considering the fact that the pitch was overused and the ball would come on, slow and low.

This pitch at the Ferozshah Kotla was used during the T20 Champions League and batsmen struggled to find their form here. Why Ponting chose to bat was something to do with the dew. That's what the commentators said. I don't think that's it, though. Why would anyone want their bowlers to ball with a soap?? The ball might skid but once it connects with the bat, bye bye hopes.

Now with Paine out injured, who would open the batting? None other than skipper Ricky himself. Took the responsibility upon himself and, along with Shane Watson, gave Australia a confident start, unexpected from such a pitch.

The bowling wasn't bad, rather the technique used on such a pitch was superb and the going got tough for the Indians. Then Dhoni called upon Yuvraj to get something out of this pitch and he responded with gusto getting Watson stumped and getting the breakthrough India required.

But Hussey came in and how troublesome he is. It seemed impossible to get him out. After playing two excellent innings in the first two matches, Hussey played what could be his best innings so far.

He and Ponting continued the slow killing of the Indian bowlers, the same way Dhoni and Gambhir did in the previous match. But then came the wickets that shook the foundations of a good start.

First, Jadeja got Ponting LBW with a very good delivery, then Cameron White was caught behind, though replays seemed to suggest otherwise.

The next 15 overs saw Voges and Henriques give support to Hussey who unleashed an onslaught on the bowlers. Australia ended up with a very good score on this type of wicket. India required 230 from the allotted 50 overs.

Sachin and Sehwag walked out to the usual screaming from the crowds, but Sehwag didn't live up to their expectations. He tried and tried but the Australian bowlers didn't give him the room he loves.

Siddle then bowled a perfect yorker right on his ankle which made him limp for quite a while. The crowd went silent. They couldn't see their hometown boy being treated like this. What was worse, after recovering, he finally succumbed to an inswinger by Mitchell Johnson.

At the other end, Sachin Tendulkar was ready to play the role of aggressor and played  shots all around the field but failed to get the boundaries. Nonetheless, he was looking dangerous. It easily showed on his face, he wanted to take his team home. The only way he could've been out, was either a bad decision or a run out.

Alas, he fell through the latter. Johnson's arm, quicker than he thought. The silence, was loud.

Two overs later, Gambhir who suffered a nasty blow at forward short leg messrs Ponting who pulled hard right on Gauti's neck, fell to a beautiful ball to Nathan Hauritz. India were in tatters at 53 for 3.

Then began the Late Show with Dhoni and Yuvi.

The two most dangerous players in the world played roles completely unexpected of them, yet beautifully executed by them. They pushed, ran, looked for two and kept pushing in the gaps until the Aussie fielders were gasping for breath. That's when they took the advantage.

The boundaries suddenly began to flow off their willows and soon, the target was achieved, 10 balls to spare but not before Yuvraj fell to Moises Henriques.

Two-one up, and India'a tails were high in the sky going to Mohali. They began on a good note with Dhoni winning the toss and asking the Kangaroos to strap on their pads.

Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra continued their good form and restricted the runs. Shaun Marsh(who replaced Adan Voges) and Shane Watson couldn't get anything off their bowling.

Finally, in the eighth over, Marsh's misery ended when Nehra trapped him leg before wicket. Unfortunately this is the time the current in our beautiful town was cut. At the same time, I had to prepare for a test I had to give an hour later.

I entered my exam room, searching for people who would (could) know the score, but alas, United's beating of Blackburn (which was cool by the way) was on everybody's lips.

I finished my paper earlier than expected and was pretty shocked to hear Australia being bowled out for 250 on perfectly decent batting track. Also, four un-outs marred their performance. Well, 3-1 for sure.

Sachin and Sehwag had walked out but Sachin rather have come out with a comfy chair to watch Viru burst some huge fireworks. Sehwag dismantled Johnson, and I was sure he was going to start crying sooner or later. Siddle at the other end, kept Sachin at bay or rather Sachin did not want to gatecrash Sehwag's party.

In the first ODI, Dhoni's and Yuvraj's superb performances overshadowed another very good performance by a certain Aussie bowler. Doug Bollinger bowled his 10 overs and gave just 24 runs. He didn't pick up any wickets, but he did his job.

Bollinger was called in to replace Johnson and immediately struck with the important wicket of Sehwag. Ponting's army was ecstatic. Especially Mitch, of course.

Then came in Virat Kohli, who was looking very confident, but he fell after sharing a 38-run stand with Tendulkar, thanks to climbing ball bowled by Dougy.

During this partnership, Sachin continued from where he left off in the previous match. He wasn't at his best. He wasn't timing the ball, yet if he didn't get out, even if the whole team crumbled around him, India were going home.

Now it's really amazing. Whenever Sachin is batting exceptionally, whenever there is intent in his eyes, there are only two ways he could get out. Run out, but he was looking and running his and his partners runs very carefully so that wouldn't happen or a bad decision.

Hauritz bowled a quicker delivery which was sliding down the leg side and hit Sachin's pads on the leg stump. I believed it was not out the moment I saw it, but I guess Aravinda didn't. As soon as he raised his finger, I had it at the corner of my mind. This is it...looks like a pretty good movie.

Even though Sachin walked off, there was a sense of calm in my mind when Dhoni walked out to partner Yuvraj. This was all fine. There was no way Dhoni could get out. Could he?

Well, Yuvraj didn't fit in the same category and was run out thanks to a brilliant piece of fielding by Ricky Ponting.

Word about Ricky here. I think he is the greatest captain cricket is ever going to see. There is no doubting his fielding and batting abilities but his captaincy sets really high standards. Whenever his boys were down and out he clapped and cheered them on and even beat his chest once to show strength. This run out was another example of his amazing ability to lead from the front.

Back to the match where nothing much was developing other than the Australian bowling. Three wickets fell and the end was near. Harbhajan and Kumar couldn't do much. Sorry they could. 

Again Bhajji managed to scare the Australian and took the match achingly close, not before Watson caught him out and it ruined India's chances of pulling off a late victory.

The series is now leveled at two games all and no team has the upper hand. Though, Australia may just be brimming with confidence after all, they have retained that prestigious No. 1 spot.