Monday, October 13, 2008

Tendulkar misses Lara's mark as India force a draw

Resolute batting by Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, coupled with fading light, helped India escape with a draw against Australia in the first Test, at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, in Bangalore, on Monday.
Chasing a challenging target of 299 in a minimum 83 overs, India amassed 177 for 4 in 73 overs before the batsmen accepted the offer of bad light.
Laxman was unbeaten on 42 and Sourav Ganguly not out on 26. They two were involved in an unbroken stand of 39 for the fifth wicket that guided the team to safety.
Tendulkar fell 15 runs short of eclipsing Brian Lara's world record aggregate of 11,953 runs in Test cricket when he was dismissed for 49. He, however, helped rescue India after the early loss of Virender Sehwag (6) and Rahul Dravid (5).
Tendulkar (11,939) brought all his experience into play to thwart the Aussie bowlers. He stitched a 53-run partnership for the third wicket with Gautam Gambhir (29), followed by another of 61 runs for the fourth wicket with Laxman.
Earlier, Australia batted for 32 minutes on the fifth and final day, adding 35 runs in five overs, before declaring their second innings on 228 for 6 in 73 overs.
The second Test begins in Mohali on Friday, October 17.
Morning session: (76 runs, 3 wickets, 22 overs)
Anil Kumble started proceedings for India and could have had a wicket immediately, but he dropped a return off the first ball. Haddin mistimed a drive that went straight back to him, but he floored it and also injured his finger in the process.
Shane Watson then showed his intent with a couple of boundaries off Kumble and Ishant Sharma before he was dismissed by the latter. The Aussie all-rounder, who scored 41 from 72 deliveries, tried to hit Ishant across the line but got an inside edge, which crashed into his stumps.
Cameron White also looked to attack the moment he came in. He drove Ishant for a boundary through the off-side, as Australia looked for some quick runs in the morning with India spreading the field.
The visitors batted for 32 minutes on the fifth and final day, adding 35 runs in five overs, before declaring their second innings on 228 for 6 in 73 overs.
Brad Haddin was unbeaten on 35 off 61 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries, while Cameron White was not out on 18 from 14 deliveries, including two boundaries.
Harbhajan Singh took two for 76 in 27 overs, while Zaheer Khan claimed one for 46 in 17.
Anil Kumble disappointed in his last Test on home ground, finishing wicketless in both innings, conceding 160 runs in 51 overs.
(India innings)
This was a real chance for India to score an unlikely victory after Australia opted for a sporting declaration. All depended on the start they would get, because once the ball gets old it is very difficult to get the scoreboard moving on slow pitches like this one.
Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir looked to get on with things early as both started with boundaries. Sehwag (5) got a lifeline early when wicketkeeper Hadding dropped him while diving to the right after the batsman got a regulation edge off Brett Lee.
However, he could not make the most of it as he fell in the next over for 6. He tried to play Stuart Clark on the leg side in the sixth over of the innings, but the ball swung enough to beat the shot, take the back of the bat and travel to first slip .
Dravid got off the mark with a classical straight drive off Lee in the seventh over of the innings. But he did not stay on for long, falling to Lee after scoring just five.
The right-hander tried to flick Lee on the leg side, but was caught brilliantly by Ponting, who dived to his right at short midwicket. India were in trouble at 24 for 2 in the ninth over.
Gambhir survived a close stumping chance off Clark, but the third umpire ruled in favour of the batsman in a very close decision.
Tendulkar made a cautious start but then looked to raise the tempo with a couple of boundaries in Mitchell Johnson's first over.
India's hopes now depended on veteran Tendulkar, who also has the chance to break Brian Lara's world record for most Test runs.
Tendulkar is currently 48 runs short of Brian Lara's aggregate of 11953 runs.
At this venue, only two teams out of nine have successfully chased down a target in the fourth innings, the highest being 195 for 2 by Australia in 1998.
Post-lunch session: (89 runs, 1 wicket, 31 overs)
India played out a few quiet overs after the break till Gambhir broke the shackles with boundaries in consecutive overs off Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke .
Johnson had his revenge soon after when he shattered Gambhir's stumps with a fast yorker.
The left-hander's long vigil at the crease ended for 29; it included four boundaries off 81 deliveries.
Debutant leg spinner Cameron White came on to bowl in the 36th over to replace part-timer Clarke, who was not making much of an impact. He immediately forced Tendulkar to drive at a wide one, which was edged, but, fortunately, went over the slip region.
Tendulkar seemed to have learnt from that mistake and after that just concentrated on playing it safe.
VVS Laxman also weathered the initial storm from the pacers before looking at ease against the spinners. He loosened up before the tea break as he creamed a few boundaries off the two spinners. He hit White for two boundaries in the final over before tea to bring up the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Tendulkar.
Tendulkar showed great maturity to keep the bowlers at bay as he reached 47 not out, inclusive of four boundaries in 111 deliveries. Laxman also looked quite comfortable, having reached 28 from 75 deliveries, picking four boundaries in the process.
The hosts need 169 runs in a minimum 35 overs with seven wickets in hand, but it seems unlikely they will go for the target.
Australia still have time in their hand and a few quick wickets after tea could work in their favour.
Post-tea session: (47 runs, 1 wicket, 25 overs)
The final session of the Test seemed to be all about Tendulkar, with the crowd waiting in anticipation of his world record. But he could only add two runs to his tally before he was caught in the covers for 49. Debutant White's first wicket in Tests could not have been bigger as tempted India's best batsman into a drive that went straight to Clarke.
Tendulkar added 61 runs for the fourth wicket with Laxman, but the match was still not completely safe. Australia had a minimum of 30 overs in their hands, light permitting, in which they had to take six Indian wickets.
Sourav Ganguly's first boundary was a cracking pull shot off White, in the 55th over, and he looked to be positive from the start.
India reached 148 for 4 in 58 overs before the batsmen accepted the offer of bad light by the umpires.
Almost 40 minutes of play were lost before umpires called the teams back after the light improved slightly, which meant that Australia could only use spinners if the light stayed the same.
India reached 158 for 4 in 63 overs before Australia introduced medium pacer Clark to see if he could make a breakthrough. But the fading light ensured that only nine more overs could be bowled before the batsmen took the offer of lights again.
This time only 22 minutes were lost before play resumed with India at 165 for 4 in 67 overs.
Clark and White bowled another six overs between them before both teams agreed for a draw.
India finished on 177 for 4 in 73 overs, holding on for a deserved draw late in the final day.
Laxman kept it simple and treated the bowling on merit to finish unbeaten on 41 from 142 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries, while Ganguly was not out on 26 from 68 deliveries.
Only 47 overs were possible in the last session during which Australia could only get the wicket of Tendulkar. But Laxman and Ganguly held fort for an unbeaten stand of 39 runs in 20.4 overs on a slow pitch that surprisingly held no terrors at all for the batsmen on the final day.
Australia will be ruing that they could not enforce a result in the Test despite posting 430 in their first innings and then reducing India 155 for five.
It was man of the match Zaheer Khan, who played a major part in keeping India afloat in the contest with his five-wicket haul in the first innings followed by his unbeaten 57 with the bat.
India looked a bowler short as they went in with just four bowlers in the match and may well decide to address that limitation in the next Test at Mohali, beginning Thursday.

No comments: