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Advantage India on Sachin’s day

The authority Tendulkar and Ganguly showed first in taming and then dominating the bowling on day 1 was unmistakable, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.See Full Scorecard

cricket Updated: Oct 17, 2008 22:41 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times

The wait for answers to the questions doing the rounds before the second Test wasn't very long. Having woken up to wet mornings for a few days, the city said good morning to a bright sun, Anil Kumble ruled himself out handing a maiden Test cap to Amit Mishra and Sachin Tendulkar took just 23 balls to score the 15 runs he needed to break Brian Lara's world record of most Test runs.

The pitch too was a subject of scrutiny because nobody knew how it would behave after being under covers for the better part of the last few days. On Friday, it was almost as good as it could have been for batting. And after winning what might turn out to be an important toss, India reached a position any team batting first on this surface would be happy with.

The route to this healthy total wasn't as smooth as it seemed at one stage. The start was perfect with the Australians failing to do anything with the new ball. India were right on top an hour into the second session before losing three wickets in five overs to slip to 163 for four. Memories of the middle-order malfunctions to have afflicted this team in the recent past were getting bigger until Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly shooed them away in an exhibition of high-quality batting. The attack was left toothless by the lack of any assistance from the pitch.

But the authority Tendulkar and Ganguly showed first in taming and then dominating the bowling was unmistakable. While the owner of many records came up with a flawless display, the left-hander was almost as good and added to the frustration of the Australians by taking his own sweet time in going about things.

Earlier, there was little movement in the air and as has been the trend ever since they started opening together, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were scoring at an alarming rate for the visitors. Even though Gambhir lost his partner, who nibbled loosely at a short one on the leg side, the left-hander was cautious.

After seeing his bowlers concede at over four runs per over in the first session, Ricky Ponting opted for plan B after lunch. With the exception of an unconventional arrangement of fielders on the leg side when Shane Watson was bowling to Rahul Dravid, this ploy was about bowling outside off with more fielders protecting that side. But Watson and debutant Peter Siddle erred in line and runs kept coming at a good pace.

Ponting had no option but to bring back his principal bowlers and the hour before tea when Lee and Johnson bowled unchanged was the only period of the day dominated by Australia. Both got some reverse swing at a good pace, although neither was the reason behind Dravid's dismissal. The ball was short and wide and the replay of how he dragged it back while trying to hit it square on the off wouldn't please Dravid.

Getting rid of Gambhir and Laxman quickly opened a window of hope for Australia but India hit back through Tendulkar and Ganguly.

India 1st innings: Gambhir c Haddin b Johnson 67, Sehwag c Haddin b Johnson 35, Dravid b Lee 39, Tendulkar c Hayden b Siddle 88, Laxman c Haddin b Johnson 12, Ganguly batting 54, Ishant batting 2

Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-5, nb-3) 14

Total (for five wickets) 311

FoW: 1-70, 2-146, 3-146, 4-163, 5-305

Bowling: Lee 18-5-56-1 (w5, nb2), Siddle 18-2-80-1 (nb1), Johnson 20-3-68-3, Watson 14-3-47-0, Clarke 7-0-28-0, White 8-0-26-0.