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Saturday, October 09, 2010

India peg back Australia after good start: T1D1


Australia 5/285 (85.5 ov, R Ponting 77, S Watson 57) v India T1/2, D1/5 at Bangalore.


Australia, mirroring their first innings at Mohali, prospered in the first session then wobbled before regrouping to reach a total which needs augmenting on D2 to set the strong Indian batting a stern challenge.

The sun wasn't out in Bangalore (aka Bengaluru) when Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat It didn't emerge for the rest of a day and contributed, together with India's decision to take the new ball, to an early finish.

Both sides were weakened, though India for whom VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma were unable to take the field, were more so. For Australia Doug Bollinger was unfit and was replaced by Peter George, the first South Australian to appear in a Test since, I believe, Darren Lehmann in 2004 .

Once again Shane Watson and Simon Katich laid a good foundation by batting through the first session. The Indian bowling was generally steady without, as 0/95 from 27 overs suggests, often looking threatening.

But good times for India were just around the corner. Immediately after lunch (if that's an apt term for an interval starting in the late morning) Harbhajan Singh had Katich caught at slip for 47/95b (7x4), then Pragyan Ohja spun one which Watson gloved to MS Dhoni. His measured 57/88b (9x4) seemed, after T1, almost a failure, but of course it wasn't, even if 2/113 was a reality check.

The Indian spinners persisted. Ricky Ponting was positive, especially against his longstanding adversary Harbhajan, but Michael Clarke didn't settle in and was well caught by Suresh Raina (an excellent allround fielder) at backward short leg off Harbhajan for a modest 14. Ponting and Michael Hussey, both looking good, restored some equilibrium,moving the total from 132 to 189 at tea without further loss.

In the first two sessions the Indian frontline spinners bowled 19 0vers apiece (and Sehwag had already turned his arm over). But then it was Zaheer Khan's turn. At 198 he had Hussey caught in the gully for a pugnacious 34/45b (4x4). Enter Marcus North whose reputation and career were on the line.

North looked good by his recent standards, but I, not that I wished him ill (quite the contrary) was waiting for him to slip up. But I'm pleased to say he proved me wrong, batting through the rest of the day for a solid 43*/89b (4x4) .

The real surprise was that Ricky Ponting was the only other wicket to fall, and the great disappointment was that it was taken by the occasional offspinner Raina. Ponting drove and pulled well. He hit some balls in the air but I only noticed one that went near a fielder. His 77/147b (12x4), classy as it was, and given the manner of his dismissal (Hawkeye showed the ball barely clipping leg stump, which a UDRS appeal might have disallowed) , was disappointing.

It was also disappointing that there was a lot of booing from the considerable (at least compared to Mohali and most Commonwealth Games events) crowd when he was out.

5/256 was a modest total; 5/285 at stumps only marginally less so.
Ravi Shastri, presenting the pre-match TV pitch report, opined that the wicket would be at its best on D2. If he's right, or even if he's not, Australia need at least another 120 runs.

Scorecard

Fox Sports coverage & link to video

Times of India report

Cricinfo Bulletin
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