Second-innings fragility leaves Australia in a bind

With Clarke forced down the order, any minor hopes Australia may have harboured of winning the game after conceding only a 91-run first-innings lead slipped away. Siddle put the improvement in the bowling down to putting together groups of good overs and keeping the batsmen in check.

updated: March 17, 2013 19:50 IST
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Peter Siddle is a captain's dream as a fast bowler. Throw him the ball at any point - first thing in the morning or five minutes before close under debilitating sunshine - and his effort does not waver. Physically strong and mentally capable of punishing himself to go the extra yard when the situation demands it, Siddle delivered five wickets on a day when Australia struggled to put India under pressure for any sustained period.

While Siddle's effort ensured that India went from 289 for no loss to 499 all out, in a strange sense it also ensured that India were in with a real chance of thinking about a win in a game that could so easily have meandered to a dull draw. Had India not been bowled out, there was every chance that they would not have begun bowling as soon as they did, given Mahendra Singh Dhoni's penchant for playing safe and looking at the larger picture of sealing a series rather than trying to win every Test. Once again, though, it was a case of a fast bowler stepping up and doing the job for Australia when others have struggled to deploy their skills in the most efficient manner.

While Siddle conceded that there was suddenly swing for the quick bowlers, cheekily suggesting that they might have finally got their choice of ball right, he did not try to hide the fact that the game was still in balance as far as Australia were concerned. "The first thing is to get those 16 runs we've got to get (to wipe out India's lead). Then see where we go. It's hard to say. We've got to make sure we get those 16 runs without losing a wicket, which would be ideal, and then see how the rest of the session plays out," said Siddle.

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