Classic centuries from Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara has given India the upper hand in the Hyderabad Test match. The Indian bowlers had risen to the occasion on the first day, after Clarke had won the toss again, by sticking to an accurate line that gave no room for the Australians.
Only the skipper Clarke batted with confidence and the expertise that great players display, when confronted with a surface that is not the one that they are used to. His nimble footwork takes him to the pitch of the ball quickly even if the bowler has not flighted it and given him the few nano seconds to get to it.
This kind of quicksilver footplay is a delight to watch and even as he does that, his still head makes him supremely balanced if he has to make the adjustment to a defensive shot. It is the balance that allows him to use the depth of the crease to play the cut shot too.
The Australians have lost wickets mainly due to some cross batted shots. With the Indians bowling stump to stump, if the batsmen miss, the bowlers get them either bowled or with the pads in front of the stumps.
Bhuvneshwar had impressed with his ability to move the white ball and so it was natural that he would enjoy bowling with the red which would move even after it gets old. He too was accurate and his three wickets were those that put the Australians on the backfoot, so to speak.
It took determined batting from Clarke and Wade to give them some respectability, but after both were out, the rest fell like nine pins. Clarke’s declaration was a terrific ploy which unfortunately did not come off.
Pujara’s temperament has never been in doubt and he showed how much he values his wicket by diving to regain his crease even if it meant that it could damage his knees which have been operated upon earlier. He was in pain throughout but just simply did not want to give it away. Both he and Vijay did all the hard work in the pre-lunch session by playing themselves in and not trying anything flashy.
When they came out after lunch, they opened their shoulders and played some handsome shots. Pujara outscored the normally free scoring Vijay, but that is understandable as Vijay was trying to establish himself in the team. This century should make Vijay realise the value of patience and building his innings. It is a huge plus for India that he has come good because with his range of shots he can also score quickly if needed.
The ball is turning, so it won’t be easy for the Australians, and it will take a huge effort from them to save the match.
Professional Management Group