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Rediff News  All News  » Cricket » Tendulkar, Ganguly help India wrest the initiative

Tendulkar, Ganguly help India wrest the initiative

Last updated on: October 17, 2008 18:16 IST

- Scorecard

There were records galore on the opening day of the second Test between India and Australia, for the Border-Gavaskar trophy, at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Friday.

India, after winning the toss and opting to bat, piled 311 runs for the loss of five wickets in 85 overs by the end of the day.

The most memorable moment of the day was definitely Sachin Tendulkar surpassing Brian Lara's record as the highest run-scorer in Test cricket. The milestone was crossed after an endless wait and many bouts of anxiety for his innumerable fans, but, when it came, it was one to savour.

Also, during the course of the day, former captain Sourav Ganguly, playing in his final series, attained a personal milestone when he surpassed the 7, 000-run mark, while Tendulkar also registered his 50th half-century in Tests.

And, finally, Tendulkar wrote another chapter in cricket history when he became the first batsman to surpass 12,000 Test runs. He and Ganguly put on 142 runs for the fifth wicket in a partnership that virtually defined the Indian innings.

At close of play on Day 1, Ganguly was unbeaten on 54, his 35th half-century in Tests registered in the process, and giving him company was Ishant Sharma, on 2.

Morning session: 104 runs, 1 wicket, 25 overs

Debutant Peter Siddle opened the bowling along with Brett Lee and he struck with his first ball, well literally. His low bouncer hit opener Gautam Gambhir on the helmet.

But the Indian openers, to their credit, negotiated the opening hour quite well. Both Virender Sehwag (35) and Gambhir (53 not out) were at their aggressive best. In fact, the first 50 runs came in just nine overs.

Lee, on the contrary, struggled. His opening spell figures read 4-0-23-0. He was duly replaced by Mitchell Johnson. The 26-year-old has been largely successful against the Indian batsmen in both forms of the game and it didn't take him long to assert his supremacy yet again as he got Sehwag to edge one to Brad Haddin in his fourth over. (70-1)

The wicket infused a new energy in Australia and Ponting made an aggressive change, bringing in Lee in place of Shane Watson -- who bowled only one over. Gambhir survived a huge leg before appeal off Lee's first delivery but dispatched the second to the boundary with utter disdain.

The southpaw soon reached his half-century in 88 balls, his first fifty against Australia and seventh overall, with a boundary off part-timer Michael Clarke. The boundary also brought up India's hundred, in the last over of the session.

Rahul Dravid (11 not out), who walked in at Sehwag's dismissal, gave Gambhir good support as India posted 104 for 1 in 25 overs at the lunch break.

Post-Lunch session: 70 runs, 3 wickets, 26 overs

After lunch, there was a role reversal. Dravid turned the aggressor and Gambhir played the sheet anchor as India continued to make additions to Australia's cup of woes. 

Watson and Siddle were workman-like in their approach and failed to give Australia the breakthrough. As a result, Ponting opted for a twin-change, bringing in both his top bowlers -- Johnson and Lee. And the desperate move had the desired impact, rather a twin-impact within six overs, when Lee, bowling his third over of the spell cleaned up Dravid, the latter contributing with an inside edge. (146-2)

Dravid scored 39 off 70 balls, a knock that comprised seven hits to the fence. His second-wicket stand with Gambhir yielded 76 runs and his wicket enabled Lee surpass Craig McDermott (291) and become the fourth-highest wicket-taker for Australia in Tests -- behind Shane Warne (708), Glenn McGrath (563) and Dennis Lillee (355).

Then in the first ball of the next over, Johnson induced an edge from Gambhir's bat and Haddin made no mistake behind the stumps. Gambhir scored 67 off 140 balls, an innings that featured nine exquisitely-timed boundaries. (146-3) 

That brought to the crease two of India's best batsmen in Tendulkar and V V S Laxman, the former needing just 15 runs to surpass Lara (11, 953) as the highest scorer in Test cricket.

However, the record had to wait. What happened after just four overs was yet another disappointment for India. Laxman (12, 2 x 4) tried to flick a Johnson delivery but ended up edging down the legside to wicketkeeper Haddin. Yet again Johnson had imposed his mastery over Indian batsmen.(163-4)

Tendulkar and Ganguly negotiated the remaining overs without much fuss to take India to 174 for 4 in 51 overs at the tea break.

Post-Tea session: 137 runs, 1 wicket, 34 overs

The first ball in the post-tea session created Test history. As Tendulkar guided a Siddle delivery and ran a three, the crowd erupted in unison. It was the moment they had come to witness. It was the moment for which they waited patiently for two sessions; and it was a moment that had many anxious precedents.

In the end, they got their money's worth. And we got our 'word's worth' (pun intended).

For Tendulkar, it was the end of a painful wait. And the relief on his face was palpable. The record attained, he set out alongside Ganguly to do some rebuilding to the Indian innings.

While the duo were focused at their immediate objective, they were also approaching a milestone each -- 12, 000 Test runs for Tendulkar and 7, 000 for Ganguly. And the race to glory seemed exciting.

However, Ganguly won the race with a couple off Johnson -- probably because he had a shorter target to achieve (just 40 runs) -- and became only the fourth Indian batsman after Sunil Gavaskar, Tendulkar and Dravid to surpass 7, 000 Test runs. The 36-year-old left-hander achieved the feat in his 111th Test and 183rd innings.

Soon after Tendulkar completed his 50th Test half-century, his first in 11 innings, off 80 balls. The 35-year-old became only the fourth batsman after Australia's Allan Border (63), compatriot Dravid (53) and Australia's Steve Waugh (50) to complete a 'half-century of half-centuries' and add yet another record to his already bulging record book.

He then went a step further and became the first batsman in Test history to score 12,000 runs with a single off Cameron White.

The second new ball ensured Tendulkar's dismissal, caught at first slip by Matthew Hayden off Siddle, the latter's first Test wicket.

In the first Test in Bangalore, Tendulkar was White's maiden victim. India 305 for 5.

Tendulkar made an invaluable 88 off 111 balls, inclusive of 10 hits to the fence. However, the Aussie bowlers largely toiled sans success in the final session. More than an Aussie failure, this session was all about Indian success. The fact that both the batsman applied themselves well meant they deserved every success that they went on to achieve during the course of the day. It was their moment of glory and no one could deny them that.

Amidst their personal triumph, the duo had also ensured India had amassed 137 runs in 34 overs, losing only a single wicket in the final session.

Our Correspondent