Sydney Test: Umpiring and Weather Hold the Key

The last day of the Sydney Cricket Test match between India and Australia is interestingly poised with Australia having slight edge. Given the present state of the game, the three possible results (An Aussie victory, a draw and an Indian victory) will depend significantly on umpiring decisions and the weather n the final day. If the weather intervenes in a big way, a draw is more or less certain. On the other hand, given the performance of the umpires in this Test and Steve Bucknor’s poor track record while umpiring against India, I suspect umpiring could play a significant role on the final day. A couple of bad decisions against India and Australia will have this match in the bag.
Michael Clarke — Disgraceful

On the fourth day, a caught behind (Hayden) and an lbw decision (Hussey) that went against India on day 4, virtually destroyed India’s chances of gaining the upper hand. This is in no way meant to take away credit from both these batsmen who fought it out in the middle to make every run unlike the conventional Aussie attack style of batsmanship. A perfect example of how much umpiring holds the key was reflected in Michael Clarke’s disgraceful decision not to walk after being caught in the slips by Dravid. “If umpires make mistakes so often maybe I can get away” seems to be the mindset of today’s international players.

India Missed Murali Karthik

While India’s two spinners did a fine job, India definitely missed a third spinner in this Test. Murali Karthik would have been a terrific asset in this match. Without Zaheer Khan in the team, Kumble had no where to turn for a wicket taking bowler. Ishant Sharma appears to be a surprise back up fast bowler. His fielding is not the best and he is definitely not quick, for a player so early in his career. There is no question that India is missing Sreesanth’s pace and exuberance on this tour. Taking the second new ball has become such a painful decision. Thankfully RP Singh has done well so far and seems to have great potential for the future.

SCG Highlight: India’s Fight Back

The highlight of this Test thus far has been India’s impressive fight back after the MCG debacle. For the first time in a very long time, Australia were at the receiving end in a Test match. In fact, the Aussies were under pressure and never really dominated this Test match. And if they ever did, I dare say, that it was with ample assistance from the umpires (read decisions in favor of Symonds). The batting failure at the MCG justifies the need for more practice games before a Test match on foreign soil, especially against a formidable opposition like Australia. Unlike at MCG, almost every Indian batsman barring the young turks (Dhoni and Yuvi) put in a great performance. Sachin’s century was brilliant, VVS was sublime, Dravid was determined and Dada was smooth (not to mention the fighting spirit of the tail-enders). It will be a pity if all this good work crumbles on the last day, particularly if it is helped along by Bucknor and co.

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