A Star is born. One can discount the flat conditions, world champions who were dispirited, one-dimensional attack and yet heaps of praise is due for Gautam Gambhir. It was a model innings by the opener, for he defended when required and attacked whenever Aussies dropped their guard.
A fascinating aspect of his innings was the little mental duel he had with Ricky Ponting. One of Gambhir's strengths is the manner in which he peppers the third-man region. Ponting goaded him to do so, leaving third-man vacant.
In the end, Gambhir had his way, chopping deliveries behind with profit. Gambhir does it so late and with such control, power and placement that no fielder is quick enough. His stand-up act against the Australians was one thing; his ability not to let it affect his batting was another. It's difficult to believe that he instigated the ugly issue even though he never took a step back. He might have added to the unpleasantness but it still highlighted how tough and confident this man is. He is one of the brave and brash young faces of Indian cricket, though off the field it's difficult to find anyone with better manners and softer voice.
V.V.S. Laxman is another timeless classic act even though he might not have played in my 11 had Harbhajan been fit. He batted with fluency. Let no one be fooled by his grace and almost fragile appearance. He is a tough cookie who has a voracious hunger for runs. Those doubting his fitness and ageing legs got their answers in a knock spanning six hours. The fire still burns bright. India, for the second day running, have kept Australia on the run. It's a mighty challenge for the Aussies to keep the series alive. Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting need to stand up and be counted.