Can Australia still salvage Hyderabad Test?
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Phillip Hughes (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Maybe batting legend Matt Hayden’s comment on television two days ago was a tad early when he predicted, “Today the great Australian fighting spirit will surface.”
As it turned out Cheteshwat Pujara and Murali Vijay flogged the Australian attack all around the ground.
But today there’s a big chance to save this Test when all appeared lost at tea yesterday with India looking set for a 400-plus first dig lead.
The unlikely heroes were orthodox spinners Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty who were an integral part of the flogging two days ago.
Maxwell on debut captured 4-126 off 26 including the prize scalps of Vijay (127), Virat Kohli (34), MS Dhoni (44) and Ravindra Jadeja (10).
Doherty cleaned up the tail to finish with 3-131 off 46.1 to limit the first dig deficit to 266.
Having already lost David Warner and Phil Hughes to ill-disciplined sweep shots both bowled by Ravi Ashwin, it’s up to Ed Cowan and Shane Watson to set up the launching pad to save this Test.
If Maxwell and Doherty can overcome the mountain of criticism they copped to grab seven wickets between them, Cowan and Watson can do likewise with the bat.
Cowan’s Achilles heel is in the 30s, he resumes on 26. Watson hasn’t scored a Test ton in 37 digs, he resumes on nine with Australia 2-74 still 192 runs shy of making India bat again.
If the Cricinfo scorecard is right, there’s been a change in the Australian batting order with Maxwell promoted over Moises Henriques, but still batting behind keeper Matt Wade.
That doesn’t make any sense, Both Maxwell and Henriques are batsmen who can bowl, Wade’s a keeper who can bat. It would seem more practical to bat Wade at eight.
Whatever happens, the Australians must knuckle down today to do the job they are well-paid to do – save a Test that looked out of the question two days ago.
Providing they limit their stroke-making to the V and give away the sweep, they can do the job.
The biggest disappointment has been Phil Hughes, With all his exciting talent he lets himself and his team mates down so often by playing poorly selected shots.
So far in India he’s scored six, duck, 19, duck – a total of 25 runs off 84 deliveries.
Australia has been effectively two down in a hurry once a opener is dismissed. That’s a burden on any side, especially one as brittle as this one.
So let’s see how much bottle the baggy greens have on display today.
Let’s hope Matt Hayden’s prediction comes alive.