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Indians hit back at the Gabba

Faisal Shariff | December 05, 2003 08:39 IST
Last Updated: December 05, 2003 13:59 IST

Scorecard | Images

Australia scored 262 runs off 62 overs on day one. Today's rain-curtailed play of 16 overs saw a renewed Indian attack.

Seven Australian wickets fell for 61 runs as India ended day two at 323 for 9.

Zaheer Khan, who led the way for India with his 5 for 95, recorded his third successive five-wicket haul in Tests overseas.

For a fast bowler on his maiden tour of Australia to pick the prize wickets of Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich is a huge feat, which will amplify his stature as a top fast bowler.

It also dismisses the theory of picking five bowlers, echoed by legends like Allan Border and Javagal Srinath. What a team needs are bowlers who bowl to a plan and adapt to conditions quickly.

Zaheer did that commendably and his success spurred Ajit Agarkar. After his first five overs went for 40 runs yesterday, Agarkar gave only another 50 runs in the next 20 overs and picked two scalps.

India's plan of playing four bowlers is a sound one as long as at least three of them play their part well. If a seventh batsman is not going to change the course of a Test, why talk of a fifth bowler when four can't do the job?

The bowlers have done their job today. It is now up to the Indian batting line-up to realise its potential.

Morning session:

India gave away just 13 runs and picked three wickets in the rain-curtailed 30-minute session.

From a position of strength at 262 for 2, Australia were in a spot of bother at 275 for 5 at lunch.

Overnight centurion Justin Langer was dismissed early, adding just six to his score of 115, when Agarkar trapped him in front. Langer walked off the ground nodding his head in displeasure that, of course, will be ignored by match referee Mike Procter.

Langer took 194 balls and 323 minutes to make 121, and his innings gave the Indians a cue to batting on this wicket -- hang in early on and then play your strokes after getting a measure of the wicket. Pretty basic, but, as coach John Wright points out, we fail to do our basics well.

Langer's score set the stage for a huge platform for the Aussies before a combination of indecision and bad luck struck them.

Waugh walked out to a loud welcome from the Brisbane spectators, who braved incessant showers to see the legend walk out to bat in his last Test at the Gabba.

He was welcomed by a well-directed bouncer from Agarkar, his nemesis on the last series in 1999-2000. Agarkar dismissed him thrice in five innings and clearly had the wood on the Waugh brothers.

Five balls after Langer's dismissal, Damien Martyn was run out.

Playing another of his trademark cover drives, Martyn changed his mind for a third run after starting off. Waugh continued running even as a weak Harbhajan Singh return from the deep landed mid-pitch. Parthiv Patel picked up the ball and passed it on to Sourav Ganguly, who dislodged the bails as Martyn sacrificed his wicket for his skipper.

On first look, it seemed that Waugh was at fault; but a couple of replays later it was clear that Martyn should have continued running instead of wasting time refusing the third run. After all, when the ball was thrown back Waugh had completed the run.

Martyn's two-hour vigil was terminated for 42 and Australia had lost two wickets in two overs (274-4).

Waugh, who had been peppered by short-pitched stuff by Agarkar and Zaheer, was the next to follow. He gloved a short one from Zaheer down the leg-side just beyond the reach of Parthiv. But in fending the short ball, he clipped the stumps with his left foot and dislodged a bail.

To be dismissed for a duck in the first innings of his farewell series was the last thing Waugh must have hoped for.

Final Session:

The morning success spurred the Indian bowlers on despite the daunting prospect of Adam Gilchrist walking out to bat.

The world's best wicket-keeper batsman failed to make any impact and walked back to the pavilion for a duck. An express delivery from Zaheer induced an edge of his bat and V V S Laxman held on to it at second slip.

The Indian huddle was working. A dressing down from bowling coach Bruce Reid to every bowler this morning also helped.

Australia were 276-6 and India seemed to have the edge. Andy Bichel walked out and swung his bat around for some quick runs.

The ideal spot short of good length was identified and religiously followed. Zaheer, who was the only Indian bowler who impressed yesterday, came into his own with the ball moving off the deck more than on day one.

Bichel edged one from Agarkar that kept climbing on him to give Laxman his third catch as Australia lost wicket number seven at 302.

Katich looked more like a Pom than a tough Aussie. He struggled to cope with the disciplined bowling of Zaheer and Agarkar. All his four boundaries were tentative edges to third man and not once did he look in charge of the situation.

Khan put him out of his misery, inducing an edge to the keeper and claiming his fifth wicket. Australia were 314-8 and baffled by the Indian ambush.

A brilliant pick-up and throw from Harbhajan from the deep saw Gillespie short of his crease and the Australians were exposing their vulnerable self to the few supporters at the Gabba.

Bad light suspended play with Australia tottering at 323-9.

An interesting sidelight of the innings was the fact that 131 runs, including 21 boundaries, were scored behind the wicket. A fielder in that area could easily have saved close to 75-80 runs. Deduct that from the 323 and suddenly 243 for 9 sounds so much better if you are an Indian supporter or a member of the Indian team.

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