Test cricket is indeed a funny game and day 2 proved just that. Fortunes fluctuated from one side to another and finally the Aussies nudged ahead, but only just, to end the day in a relative position of safety.
Katich and Watson led a confident beginning before a typical Anderson outswinger claimed Watto, who nicked a regulation catch to the Strauss at first slip.
Ponting who has always had the tendency of looking vulnerable against the moving ball early on, lived upto his reputation by scratching around with no real feet movement. If you would closely observe his footage, on many occasions the feet were stuck to the crease as if he was on quick sand while fishing at deliveries from Anderson and Finn. In the end his stay was short-lived as a cheeky little leg glance cost him his wicket as he tickled one into Prior's glove to give Anderson his 2nd wicket.
Katich who looked tight in defense failed to captialize on a good start and fell soon after Punter's dismissal, trying to close the bat face early and lobbing it back to Finn. Suddenly 78/0 became 100/3 as England fancied their chances against a pressurized Aussie middle order.
Clarke's dodgy back was already a concern to the Aussies but he did well to hang in there in his quest to tuck in and play a long haul, but a rush of blood cost him dear. Attempting a premeditated pull may work in India or for that matter anywhere in the subcontinent, but not on the bouncy Aussie wickets, a fact which he should have known having played a number of Tests at the 'Gabba'.
North came into the Test on the back of a fighting century in Bangalore against India, a ton which may have given him a berth to play in this Test, but his joy was short-lived as he edged one to Colly. Swann lured him forward with superb flight and guile to dismiss him and Australia were in danger of conceding a first innings lead.
Despite the setbacks at one end, Hussey braved all the short pitched stuff, and dug in to play a determined innings, almost as if to point fingers at all those who questioned his ability. It was a fact that his place was under the scanner after a string of poor performances. With Usman Khwaja hot on his heels, it was important for Mr Cricket to deliver when it mattered the most and he silenced his critics in the best possible way, by going on and making one of the more important knocks of his career, an unbeaten 81, in the company of Haddin, whose position was closely contested by Paine who came up with some gritty performances in the recently concluded India tour. They have stiched together an unbeaten 77 run stand as Australia inch closer to England's first innings total.
The umpiring in the game has been top notch so far. Yes, a couple of decisions were overturned thanks to the UDRS, but it is this system that has brought in more transparency and legitimacy about the game. If implemented in all matches going forward, watching batsmen walking away in disgust, or bowlers grunting in disbelief at the umpire would be a thing of the past.
End result: Australia edge ahead, but just by a slim margin, and a couple of early wickets tomorrow will make things even stevens once again.
From the desk of Shashank Kishore. He also blogs at Shanky's Zone!