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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Laxman leads India to one wicket win in T1

India 405 & 9/216 (85.4 ov, VVS Laxman 73*, B Hilfenhaus 4-57) beat Australia 428 & 192 by 1 wicket: T1/2 D5 at Mohali. India lead series 1-0 and retain the Border- Gavaskar Trophy.

The injured V V S Laxman, batting with a runner, and helped by Ishant Sharma at the other end, converted what at 8/124 seemed an impossible position into a victory by the narrowest of margins.

He moved from 25/30b to 73*/79b (8x4) adding 81 for the 9th wicket with Sharma who ground out 31/92b (8x4) before being adjudged (wrongly according to Hawkeye) lbw by umpire Gould. No11 Pragyan Ojha was also lucky to survive a very confident appeal for lbw which umpire Bowden turned down (ditto Hawkeye) before the match was won, and the tension relieved, with two leg byes.

Australia must have felt that they'd done the hard yards after building on the overnight 4/55 and regrouping to dispose, in quick succession, of Sachin Tendulkar ( well caught in the gully) for a measured 38/64b (5x4)), MS Dhoni (sharply run out in a mixup with Laxman's runner) and Harbhajan Singh (caught in the slips off his gloves) . Doug Bollinger was the chief destroyer, but he didn't reappear after lunch because of injury (might, I wonder, another spell from him have produced a different outcome, even if it meant that he'd miss T2?).

The Australian bowlers and fielders persevered, but nothing could stop Laxman after he got a start (he looked a little restricted in his movements early in his innings). Nathan Hauritz, who was expected to take advantage of the D5 pitch, dismissed nightwatchman Zaheer Khan but thereafter Laxman saw him off. Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus bowled some good balls, while Shane Watson and Marcus North bowled a few overs - not poorly, but neither is a frontliner - as India approached the target. Perhaps Michael Clarke or Simon Katich could have had an over or two

The second Test starts in four days. It'll be interesting to see how many of the injured from both teams are able to take the field then. Australia's best hope of pulling back may be if neither Laxman nor Sharma is able to play. Bollinger's absence would weaken Australia and the selectors will need to think hard about whether to play Hauritz or rely on North, who failed twice with the bat, or perhaps Steven Smith, for the spin bowling. I suspect that Australia's reserves are not as strong as India's.

It would be good to see another Test as enthralling as this one has been, and also to see the authorities recognise that Test cricket is not dead, even if its audience, judging from the poor attendance at this one, is mostly confined to television viewers like me.

Scorecard

Fox Sports report & link to video highlights

Times of India report

Cricinfo Bulletin
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