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February 26, 1998


Bombay beat Australia by ten wickets

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National champions Bombay added another feat to its glittering history by whipping the mighty Australian team by ten wickets soon after lunch on the third and final day of the openeing tie at the Brabourne stadium.

The architect of the astoundingly facile win was the two-metre tall leftarm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni who took five wickets for just 23 runs. His match haul of seven for 131 ironically came 24 hours after the national selectors dropped him from the Indian side for the first Test at Madras.

Only thrice in Indian cricket history has a team defeated a visiting squad outside the Tests. In 1966-67, a joint Central and East Zone team routed Gary Sobers's West Indies side at Indore. Seventeen years later, in 1984-85, Ravi Shastri's under-19 team beat David Gower's England squad at Ahmedabad.

Australia went out sans a whimper on Thursday after resuming at a precarious 36 for three. Only Greg Blewett hit a brave 50 with seven fours. At lunch the Aussies were poised at 135 for seven, but the last three wickets tumbled in 5.3 overs without a run added to the score. Kulkarni captured all three wickets in just 11 balls.

Bombay openers Amit Pagnis (8) and Sulakshan Kulkarni (21) hit the required 31 runs without a fuss in just 5.3 overs.

The Aussies may feel they had the rough end of the stick with three leg-before-wicket and two close caught-behind decisions going against them.

But what did the trusted firm of Taylor and Co in was the pitch which showed a remarkable change in its character after it produced 751 runs in the first two days. Today, there was spin, fizz and bounce of variable height and like tourists long before them, the Aussies gropped in the darkness.

What surprised the crowd at the Brabourne stadium was the absence of a fight from the gritty Aussies, widely rated as the world's unofficial cricket champions. The day started with star-on-the-ascendant Ricky Ponting, who had spanked Abey Kuruvilla for four boundaries in his 22 yesterday, playing and missing at Kulkarni who was brought into the attack at 56 for three. At 81, he was given caught behind for 37, a decision he disapproved of.

Darren Lehmann rushed out at offspinner Rajesh Sutar, missed the ball completely and Kulkarni effected the easiest of stumpings. The lefthander made one.

At 114 for six, wicketkeeper Ian Healy was given out leg before for 11. As was Blewett at the same score. Blewett, an attacking player with Test centuries in Australia and South Africa, stayed for 138 minutes, played 102 balls and cracked seven fours.

While Healy made the mistake of going back, Blewett was half cock when the ball hit his forward pad from Rajesh Pawar. The tiny left hander, brought in late, bowled five overs for 12 runs and one wicket.

Paul Reiffel (nine) and Shane Warne (11) left cheaply and Adam Dale (0) holed out at mid-wicket. Warne had earlier swept Kulkarni for a six and a four.

Australian captain Mark Taylor, whose form must be as worrying as main strike bowler Warne's woes on Wednesday, said his team still had time to put its house in order.

He said his team knew that a tour to India without two of its best bowlers -- Glenn McGarth and Jason Gillespie -- was not going to be "a bowl of cherries" but "we are fast learners."

"But honestly we did not expect and were not equipped to play such a practice match," Taylor said. "We were just not ready for such opposition of strength."

The skipper underplayed Warne's showing in Bombay. The great legspinner was tossed about like a child in the mouth of a man-eating tiger and gave 111 runs off 16 overs without a wicket. Warne, Taylor said, was too experienced to let such an assault bruise his art and should be among his wicket ways soon.

Sachin Tendulkar showed no outwardly show of emotion at a tremendous win, for which he led the team from the front with a masterpiece unbeaten 204.

All he said was that the result was staggering and even with the best eleven players in the country under him they would not have achieved a win in such a forceful manner.

Tendulkar was immediately confronted with a query on the national team which has no place for any Bombay player except him. "It is a player's job to keep performing as it is a selector's job to keep noticing," the skipper said.

He refused to gloat over his mauling of Warne. "Warne is a great bowler and Australia is a great side. No one can underestimate them after just one warm-up game. I am going to keep my head on my shoulders," the man most rate as the world's best batsman said, adding that "the battle is between Australia and India, not Warne and Tendulkar."

Score Card:
Australia: First Innings: 305 for eight declared
Bombay: First Innings: 410 six declared
Australia: Second Innings:
M Slater lbw b Kuruvilla 4
M Taylor c S Kulkarni b Mhambrey 1
G Robertson b Kuruvilla 1
G Blewett lbw b Pawar 50
R Ponting c Kulkarni b N Kulkarni 37
C D Lehmann st K kulkarni b R Sutar 1
I Healy lbw b N Kulkarni 11
P Reiffel b N Kulkarni 9
S Warne c Mhambrey b N Kulkarni 11
A Dale c Pagnis b N Kulkarni 0
P Wilson not out 0
Extras (5 lb, 5 nb) 10
Total 135 all out off 41.5 overs in 187 minutes

Fall of Wickets: 1/ 7, 2/11 , 3/12, 4/81, 5/86, 6/114, 7/114, 8/130, 9/135

Kuruvilla 7-1-37-2
Mhambrey 11-2-37-1
N Kulkarni 13.5 - 5-23-5
Sutar 5-0 -21-1
Pawar 5-3-12-1

Bombay: Second Innings:
A Pagnis not out 8
S Kulkarni not out 21
Extra (1 lb 1 nb) 2
Total 31 for no loss 5.3 overs

Wilson 3-0-11-0
Dale 2.3-0-19-0


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