Update at Stumps
It was a dramatic final session to round off the Boxing Day at the MCG as India picked up three quick wickets but Australia recovered nicely thanks to a gritty unbeaten stand between Haddin and Siddle. At Stumps on Day 1, Australia are hanging in there at 277 for 6 in 89 overs with Brad Haddin on 21 (from 60 balls) and Peter Siddle on 34 (from 80 balls with 4 fours). The duo have put up a crucial 63-run partnership for the unbroken 7th wicket stand. The post lunch session saw 32 overs bowled in which the Aussies collected 107 runs at the loss of three wickets.
After Tea, Clarke was trying to consolidate things with Cowan until the 65th over when Zaheer Khan coming back into the bowling attack changed the game totally with two wickets in the space of two balls! First, the left hander had Michael Clarke (31 from 68 balls with 5 fours) chopping a forcing cut shot onto the stumps with a length delivery that had jagged back. The very next ball, Zaheer produced a venomous short and rising delivery to new man Michael Hussey that hit something before getting caught behind by MS Dhoni. Umpire Erasmus lifted his finger up to give Hussey (0 from 1 ball) wrongly out with replays revealing that there was no bat, no glove but the ball had brushed the sleeve!
The hosts were under tremendous pressure at 205 for 5 with the Indian players pumped up with the change of events. In no time, debutant Ed Cowan's resistance too came to an end, and sadly again it was a bad Umpiring decision that gifted India with a wicket. The left-handed Cowan (68 from 177 balls with 7 fours) was given caught behind when he was beaten by a quicker arm ball from Ashwin in an attempted square cut. The Aussies were definitely on the mat at 214 for 5 when Haddin and Siddle got together in the middle. The pair showed good technique to see through the rest of the session which included a 9-over phase against the second new ball. Both Haddin and Siddle were beaten occasionally but they ensured that the Aussies had added some crucial runs to the total before stumps.
Update at Tea Break
UmeshYadav lifted the spirits of India with the key wicket of Ricky Ponting with a superb delivery and thus breaking a potentially huge partnership for the third wicket. Ponting fell for 62 (from 94 balls with 6 fours) in the 49th over. Australia finished the extended afternoon session at 170 for 3 in 53 overs with Ed Cowan, scoring a debut fifty and batting on 58* (from 149 balls with 7 fours) and joined by Skipper Michael Clarke, who is on 7* (from 20 balls).
The post lunch session was delayed because of rain but when it did resume, Australia took control of the proceedings as Ponting and Cowan punished the short bowling from the pacers. Just when the Aussies were cruising along, a bowling change from MS Dhoni worked as UmeshYadav in a fresh spell forced Ponting to jab at a steep rising delivery outside off to edge it to Laxman at second slip in the 49th over. Yadav got the ball to nicely nip away with bounce at a sharp speed to get the better of a well set Ponting and thus ending what was a 113-run stand for the third wicket.
Update at Lunch Break
Rain interrupted play on either side of the lunch break in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG with Australia on the backfoot at 68 for 2 in 23.5 overs. Fast bowler UmeshYadav struck twice to put the Aussies under pressure having won the toss and elected to bat first under overcast conditions. A slightly early lunch was taken at the MCG with Ricky Ponting at the crease on 15* (from 27 balls with a four) after a tentative start and along with him is debutant left-hander Ed Cowan who is on a patient 14 (from 61 balls with 2 fours).
The visitors bowled well with the new ball but couldn't get the first breakthrough. David Warner after settling down started to free his arms. When the left hander pulled a short ball from UmeshYadav into the mid wicket stands for a six, a statement was made by the Aussies that they were going to go hard at the Indian bowling. However, a rain interruption midway in the session saw India's luck change and UmeshYadav cramped up David Warner in a pull shot down the legside and got him gloving to India's Skipper in the 14th over. Warner by then was looking dangerous with his 37 which came in 49 balls with 4 fours and a six.
In his very next over, UmeshYadav got the left handed Shaun Marsh square driving a widish pitched up delivery on the rise and into the safe hands of ViratKohli at backward point. Marsh who proved his match fitness with a knock of 99 in the Big Bash League was out for a six-ball duck! The Aussies were 46 for 2 when former Skipper Ponting joined Cowan in the middle. Ponting was greeted with a short ball from Umesh which smacked him on the side of his helmet. The former Skipper looked awkward at the crease but seems to have got into his groove just ahead of the lunch break.
Toss and Teams
Australia have won the toss and elected to bat first on what is a green grassy pitch under overcast conditions! The weather looks slightly bad with rain expected to be around. Ed Cowan will be making his debut for Australia. For India, ViratKohli gets the nod ahead of Rohit Sharma.
The pitch is expected to be seamer friendly atleast at the start of the morning session. It will be a good opportunity for the Indian pace trio of Zaheer, Ishant and UmeshYadav to put the Aussie top under pressure. The Indians are playing the lone spinner in R Ashwin.
Australia : David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (Captain), Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (Wicket Keeper), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon and Ben Hilfenhaus
India : VirenderSehwag, GautamGambhir, RahulDravid, SachinTendulkar, ViratKohli, VVSLaxman, MS Dhoni (Captain & Wicket Keeper), R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and UmeshYadav
- BV Swagath