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Indian bowlers toil

Ashish Shukla | November 26, 2003 13:11 IST
Last Updated: November 26, 2003 15:18 IST

The Indian bowling attack was made to look mediocre by Australia's first-class cricketers as Victoria Bushrangers amassed 348 for 5 on the second day of the three-day cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

The visitors got a taste of the tough task ahead of them in the upcoming series on the very second day of their tour opener as the Victoria batsman, led by Brad Hodge, tore the bowling apart.

Brad HodgeHodge, who has scored 2,300 first-class runs this year including 1,467 runs for Leicestershire in the English county, scored a swashbuckling 153 not out to record his 10th century of the year.

After India skipper Sourav Ganguly declared the innings on the overnight score of 266 for nine, the Indian bowlers began on a steady note, restricting the hosts to 67 for one in the first session before lunch.

But that was to be the only high-point of the day for the visitors as Hodge, first with Test discard Matthew Elliot and then with Jonathan Moss, launched an attack on the Indian bowlers.

The pounding of the Indian attack was so brutal that the home team gathered 126 runs between lunch and tea and then came back to collect 155 runs in the final session.

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The Victoria batsmen were severe on off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who gave away 117 runs from his 27 overs.

It was an even battle in the morning session as the Indian new ball bowlers concentrated on a steady line instead of generating pace.

Left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra, who is coming back after a long injury lay-off, gave the visitors an early breakthrough when he made opener Jason Arneberger (8) edge an outgoing delivery to vice captain Rahul Dravid in the slips.

Hodge, who joined Elliott (48) at the crease at the fall of the opening wicket on 21, then ensured that there were no more casualities in the morning session, adding 64 runs for the second wicket in the bargain.

Elliott was unlucky to fall two runs before his half century as Aakash Chopra held on to a sharp chance at silly point of Harbhajan.

This brought together Hodge and Moss at the crease. Both took full advantage of the Indian attack, which erred in line and length as well.

So impressive was the partnership between the duo that their 107-run association came in just 135 balls. Moss made 42 from 72 balls in 88 minutes and hit six fours.

It was a brilliant piece of fielding by Harbhajan off his own bowling which saw Moss return to the pavilion. The batsman came down the track to drive the off-spinner, who fielded the ball and then fired in a return directly on the stumps.

But Hodge continued to play his strokes and picked Harbhajan for special treatment and even went down on his knees to smack the off-spinner from outside the off-stump over the mid-wicket fence for a six.

India had a chance to get the breakthrough when Hodge, immediately on completion of his century, drove at a Nehra delivery away from his body and Harbhajan took a nicely judged catch in the covers, only to find to his dismay that it was a no-ball.

The Indians were then really pounded in the final session as Hodge and Australia allrounder Ian Harvey only dealt in boundaries on a wicket which became slower and slower and offered the bowlers little help.

Hodge and Harvey put on a century stand for the sixth wicket in the closing minutes of play in just 107 minutes.

As the Victorian player flowed into their strokes, India's fielding became extremely ragged and overthrows and misfields became the order of the day to the skipper's dismay.


India (1st innings): 266-9 declared (S Ramesh 87, S Tendulkar 80, P Patel 52 not out; C White 4-59, M Inness 4-64).

Victoria (1st innings):
M.Elliott c Chopra b Harbhajan Singh 48
J.Arnberger c Dravid b Nehra 8
B.Hodge not out 153
J.Moss run out 42
D.Hussey c Dravid b Nehra 21
A.McDonald lbw Harbhajan Singh 1
I.Harvey not out 54.

Extras: (lb-6, nb-14, w-1) 21

Total: (for five wickets) 348

Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-85, 3-192, 4-231, 5-232

To bat: M.Inness, P.Roach, C.White, B.Harrop

Bowling: Khan 16-2-56-0 (nb-2), Nehra 19-3-56-2 (nb-6), Balaji 20-3-84-0 (nb-6 w-1), Harbhajan Singh 27-3-117-2, Sehwag 6-2-19-0, Tendulkar 2-0-10-0.

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