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India V Australia Day 3

India View: Pralhad Burli

The crowds at the Chepauk got their monies worth and witnessed a superlative performance from the Indian skipper. M.S. Dhoni counter attacked in Adam Gilchrist-like fashion and completely dismantled the Australian bowling attack. He displayed magnificent stroke play, maturity in batting with the tail and extreme physical fitness in hot and humid playing conditions.

Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli began the day cautiously and negotiated the first hour denying the Aussie bowlers any wickets. However, Nathan Lyon’s first over created a minor flutter. Early in the over, the ball skid through at barely ankle height and Kohli struggled to negotiate it. Then, the last ball bounced viciously from nearly the same spot and rapped him on the gloves. Kohli heaved a sigh of relief as the ball failed to carry to short-leg. Lyon then bowled his best delivery, by tossing the ball further up, drifting away in the air, hitting the edge of a foot-mark and getting the ball to spin viciously. Perhaps, Sachin felt that the ball was overpitched and went for a booming drive through the covers, but ended up getting an inside edge onto the leg stump. He was upset at giving away his hand after playing so well all morning.

However, Dhoni made-good for the initial disappointment of Sachin missing his ton and Virat missing out on a bigger hundred. He constructed his innings very intelligently, first by taking the attack to the Aussie camp. Soon after he came to the crease, he took on Lyon and didn’t allow him to settle down into any rhythm. Then he built a steady partnership with Kolhi and added some quick runs prior to lunch. But it was when Australia took the second new ball, that Dhoni went completely berserk. A harder ball came onto the bat much better and Dhoni sent it sailing to all parts of the ground, sometimes over. He paid no respect to either the quick bowlers or the spinners. He ran hard between the wickets and shielded the tail after his more accomplished partners were dismissed. While Harbhajan played a horrendous slog to give Henriques his first test-scalp, young Bhuvaneshwar Kumar showed tremendous application and hung around unbeaten at close of play.

Despite a fluent 81 from Sachin Tendulkar, a near flawless century by Kohli and a dogged support act from Kumar, Day 3 of the Chennai test belonged to just one man, M.S. Dhoni. He has put India in a commanding position and will resume batting on 206. If the Indians extend their lead beyond 200 runs, from the current 135, the Australian batsmen may find themselves in a tough spot on a crumbling pitch. While it’s too early to say that this is now India’s game to lose, India is certainly better placed to push for a win.

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