George Bailey and MS Dhoni need good games for very different reasons..
With the ‘Box of Neutrals’ guys – Michael and Rob – again, we previewed today’s ODI between Australia and India at the SCG on ABC Grandstand Digital. Through a wonderful coincidence (or deliberate scheduling) the match falls on a day of national significance for both countries; Australia Day, and Republic Day in India.
For India, it’s must win. For Australia, it’s a chance to continue building pre-World Cup form. And for both captains, it’s another chance to form amid mounting off-field distraction: George Bailey’s slight run drought coming with all the focus on Michael Clarke’s hamstring, and MS Dhoni’s implication and indirect involvement in the Indian Supreme Court case surrounding the BCCI (and ICC) President, N. Srinivasian..
“There was some late criticism in the match being called off with four overs left to bowl in the day. Memories must be so short that Michael Clarke’s three wickets in five balls to win in Sydney in 2008 didn’t even register…” Image: ABC Grandstand
Indian Captain MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket immediately after the Test, but didn’t think to mention it in the press conference. Image: ABC Grandstand
The New Daily: It threatened to finish in a thriller, but in the end Australia and India conceded the stalemate late on Day 5, with the Boxing Day Test finishing in a draw for the first time since South Africa held out on the last day back in 1997.
It would be very easy to conclude that Australia batting for all of the morning session was the major reason the Test finished in the anticlimax that it did. Shaun Marsh and Ryan Harris had added just 40 runs in the 18 overs before Harris was out for 21, less than five overs before lunch.
But by batting on, Steven Smith removed any risk of losing the Test and keeping the series alive heading into the Fourth Test next week, with a draw also ensuring Australia could not lose, or have India draw the series and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Day 5: Australia resumed 7/261, leading by 326.
AUSTRALIA 9 dec/318 (S.Marsh 99; Mohammed Shami 2/92)
INDIA 6/174 (V.Kohli 54, A.Rahane 48; R.Harris 2/30, M.Johnson 2/38, J.Hazlewood 2/40)
Indian Captain MS Dhoni – might want to check the tape. Image via cricket.com.au
The New Daily: Josh Hazlewood’s debut, Steve Smith’s captaincy, India’s whinging. There was plenty to take out of the second Test in Brisbane.
With Australia wrapping up a Test win within four days at the ‘Gabba, and racing out to a 2-0 series lead now heading to Melbourne on Boxing Day, the summer is off to the best possible start.
All eyes will now turn to the MCG, with injury concerns forcing more changes on the squad from Brisbane.
Queensland batsman Joe Burns has been called up for Boxing Day. Image: ABC Grandstand
Mitchell Marsh has been ruled out of the Third Test with that hamstring injury, replaced for the Boxing Day Test by Queensland top order batsman, Joe Burns. Burns is one of the leading run-scorers in Sheffield Shield cricket this season.
The injury concerns have probably saved a few older players from a not unreasonable level of scrutiny and criticism, too. If all top order batsmen were fit and firing, there can be little doubt that Shane Watson and Brad Haddin would be under more pressure than they are.
Nevertheless, here are the lessons to take away from the Second Test.
Steve Smith (inset) raised a century on debut as Australian Captain, while Mitchell Johnson looked every bit the allrounder. Images: ABC Grandstand
The New Daily: It takes a bit to outshine Steven Smith’s brilliant batting currently, but Mitchell Johnson may just have managed it in one of the innings of his career on Day 3 in Brisbane.
India will go into the fourth day of the Second Test on 1/71 trailing by 26 runs, after they finally removed the last of the Australian tail just after Tea. Smith compiled a brilliant 133, but it was the crisp strokeplay of Mitchell Johnson, and later Mitchell Starc (52) that won the plaudits.
After poking around for runs from his first ten balls, Johnson unleashed a flurry of boundaries to raise his tenth Test fifty in just 37 balls. It was further reminder that his sublime talents aren’t just limited to the ball.
It was also a reminder of Johnson’s feast or famine returns with the bat. Today was a feast, and in amongst Johnson’s 13 fours and a six were some of the most beautifully struck drives, cuts, and pull shots as any top order batsman could imagine.
His straight-driven boundary to reach fifty will take a lot of beating as the shot of the summer.