March 21, 2019

Australia fight back in Mohali for 23 run lead over India

Sachin Tendulkar drives against Australia. Just look at the ball marks in the middle of his bat - magnificent.

The Mitchell Johnson express arrived just in time to earn Australia a surprise 23 run lead over India at the end of play on day three of the First Cricket Test at Mohali.

Johnson took 5 for 64 as India capitulated in the last half hour of play when a big first innings lead looked likely for most of the day.

Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag got India off to a great start putting on 81 runs for the first wicket. Sehwag made 59 and Rahul Dravid 77 as the pressure mounted on Australia. The day belonged to Sachin Tendulkar though who took team total through to 354 for 4 courtesy of a 124 run partnership with Suresh Raina.

It was all set up for another Tendulkar century with the little master on 98 and facing part time spinner Marcus North. However North trapped him lbw and India went into a tailspin in front of a stunned crowd. India lost 6 wickets for 51 runs to finish on a disappointing 405.

It is going to be up to Australia to try and score quickly and safety on day four in the hope they can post a total on a tiring pitch that will be beyond India. They will probably be uncharacteristically cautious though in declaring. Australia traditionally struggle in India and a draw could be considered a good result for them (not that they would ever say that in public).

With this only being a two Test series neither side can afford to go 0-1 down. Even if Australia post 300 plus they will still be nervous of a Sehwag special. Two hours of Virender would be enough for India to take the honours.

This is a very good Indian side and ideal preparation for the Ashes series against England in the Aussie Summer. The pitch conditions are vastly different but in terms of mental presuure and quality opposition cricket doesn’t come much tougher than this Indian side at home.

India 405 (Tendulkar 98, Raina 86, Dravid 77, Sehwag 59, Johnson 5-64) trail Australia 428 by 23 runs