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Paine plays anchor as Aus approach 400

Saturday, October 02, 2021
© Cricket Nirvana

Tim Paine continued to be the pain for India in the second session too, as MS Dhoni seemed to be at his wits end to get the Australian wicketkeeper out. Batting on a 179-ball 75, Paine took Australia to 390 for 8 at the tea interval.

Tim Paine looked an epitome of determination as he continued to grind and frustrate the Indians with his maiden Test half-century. © AFP

There were moments of success for India though, as Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan removed Johnson and Hauritz respectively in a session that produced 62 runs in 26 overs

After grinding it out in the first session, the Australian batsmen decided to take matters in their own hands post lunch. Tim Paine and Mitchell Johnson cornered the tired Indian bowlers to up the scoring rate.

Johnson showed his prowess with the bat by clobbering Zaheer Khan for two back to back boundaries. Zaheer tried to unsettle him with a short-ball but Johnson turned the plot on its head by pulling him away to the fence and inducing him to bowl a half-volley up next, which was thrashed through covers.

The left-hander then turned his concentration to Ojha and smashed him over the long-on for a six with the turn. A couple of overs later he repeated the stroke, this time for four runs. Ojha decided to come over the wicket but that didn’t deter Johnson from smacking him for a four through point and heaving him over mid-wicket for maximum.

After Johnson, it was Paine who took on Ojha by lofting him for two consecutive boundaries over mid-on. The Aussie wicketkeeper got rewarded for his hard work and determination with his maiden Test half-century.

The 82-run stand between Paine and Johnson for the seventh wicket caused the Indian shoulders to droop in the sweltering heat of Chandigarh. But the drinks break seemed to do the trick for Zaheer, who came back and struck right away as Johnson nicked a shortish delivery outside the off-stump to Dhoni. Johnson’s 66-ball entertaining knock ended on 47. Harbhajan then returned to dismiss Nathan Hauritz as Gautam Gambhir held on to a superb low, reflex catch at the forward short-leg.

Johnson’s wicket once again put the brakes on Australia’s scoring rate and Harbhajan, in particular, strangled them for runs.

Ishant Sharma, who had to make up for the time he spent off the field on day-one before he can bowl, finally got the cherry in his hand 20 minutes before tea. The lanky pacer, who struggled with his no-balls on the first day, came back wonderfully well to bowl a fine spell of reverse swing but without any wicket.