Brilliant Dhoni turned game on its head

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 26, 2013 04:01 hrs

India’s fantastic position in the first Test can be credited largely to captain MS Dhoni, whose outstanding knock of 224 has put the hosts in a winning position.

At the start of day three, Australia would have been happy with their first innings score of 380. With the wicket doing plenty, things looked positive for skipper Michael Clarke. James Pattinson was bowling well – taking three wickets in 28 balls – before Nathan Lyon claimed the prized scalp of Sachin Tendulkar.

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Enter Dhoni, who smashed 24 fours and 6 sixes in a brilliant, career-best performance that turned the game on its head.

An aggressive 128 run combination with Virat Kohli set the tone nicely early on, but Dhoni’s 140 run ninth-wicket partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar soon put the Australians on the back foot. A terrific 166 runs from the final two Indian wickets moved things further from the visitors’ reach.  

India, now looking full of confidence after posting 572, attacked the Aussie batsmen aggressively, knowing the ball was going to spin on a dusty Chennai wicket. For Australia, it was all about survival, however a couple of early second innings dismissals through the top order will not have pleased Michael Clarke.

He needed a long middle order partnership to try and forge some sort of lead for the bowlers to bowl at, but as wickets continued to fall, Australia’s position became perilous. A tremendous last wicket stand between Moises Henriques and Nathan Lyon has probably just delayed the inevitable, but who knows; if they can frustrate the Indians for a while longer, they may just make enough runs to make the Indian batting line up a bit nervous if they lost a couple of early wickets.

Regardless of the final result, Australia can certainly take some positives out of the match. Moises Henriques on debut has showed tremendous character in his two innings, and the return of James Pattinson to the Test arena, on what has proved to be a very difficult wicket, it was pleasing to see him finish with 5 for 96. Following a string of injuries, it is great to see him back and performing well at the highest level.

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