On the second day of the fourth Ashes test at Melbourne, Australian captain Ricky Ponting and England batsman Jonathan Trott displayed two extremes of human emotions. Ponting lost his cool with umpire Aleem Dar, while Trott quitely continued to make his second century of the series.
The century, along with support from Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior, gave England a lead of 346 runs at the end of the day's play and put the team firmly in the driving seat. The match is theirs to win now, unless Australia can find some resilience and composure in their batting.
However, there was no evidence of any level-headedness amongst the Aussies as Ricky Ponting, clearly under pressure as England made a formidable lead, made a mockery of the 'gentleman's game' with a prolonged remonstration against umpire Aleem Dar after an unsuccessful referral over Kevin Pietersen's not-out call.
Dar declared Pieterson not out in the 84th over of England's innings, when Ryan Harris' delivery passed the inside edge of his bat on the way to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Though Harris showed no interest, Haddin immediately rushed to Ponting, prompting his skipper to call for a review challenging umpire Aleem Dar's not-out call.
The Hotspot technology showed nothing on the bat, though there was a misleading glow at the bottom of the bat which was well below where the ball had actually passed. The third-umpire confirmed the not-out call. However, Peter Siddle ran forwards pointing to the big-screen and the misleading glow. Ponting was infuriated and remonstrated with the Pakistani umpire, prompting sections of the crowd to boo, before turning on Pietersen and then the New Zealand umpire Tony Hill at the end of the over.
After the day's play, Ponting was fined 40 percent of his match fees by the match referee Ranjan Madugalle for his conduct. The incident marred the brilliant 92-run partnership between Trott and Pietersen, though it ended two overs later when Pietersen (51) was given lbw after Siddle rapped his pads.
That wicket did spur the Aussies on, as the out-of-form Paul Collingwood (8) and the in-form Ian Bell (1), both departed soon after in similar fashion by hooking Mitchell Johnson to the waiting hands of Siddle at fine-leg.
Just before tea, Prior started his walk back after being caught behind off Johnson only to be called back by umpire Aleem Dar, who had referred to the third umpire after a nagging suspicion of whether Johnson had overstepped. It turned out to he had, and Prior never looked back. He gave ample support to the terrific Trott with a fairly quick unbeaten 75 in their 158-run sixth wicket partnership.
Trott was the epitome of discipline, annoying Australia to no end with a steady 141 off which only 48 runs came through boundaries. All that running, despite the evident pain after he inside-edged Hilfenhaus into his left knee, piled the pressure on to Australia as he reached his second century of the series after clipping through square for a double.
Australia, after their dreadful start on day one, needed a brilliant performance. They started off in the right track when Siddle took the openers early with a spell of 2/5. Cook could only add two runs to his overnight score of 80 before edging to Watson at first slip. Strauss then fell to a short delivery from Siddle which he could only lob to Hussey at the gully.
However, the Aussies failed to capitalize on the early wickets as Pietersen, Trott and Prior took the game away from them. If they are to stand a chance, Australia have to bowl out England early and then take a leaf out of Trott's book. That, at the moment, looks unlikely.