It’s been more than four years since Australia lost a home Test and coming into this match they were prohibitive favourites to record a 17th successive victory. But after a dramatic day when 15 wickets fell, 10 of them Australian, India can dare to dream of victory at a venue where Australia haven’t lost since Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop ran through them in 1997.
Each of India’s four bowlers did their part, with Anil Kumble taking his 600th wicket along the way. The real damage though was done by a young and largely inexperienced pace attack. Irfan Pathan provided the early blows, Ishant Sharma chipped away at the middle and RP Singh then brought the house down as Australia folded in just 50 overs.
Chris Rogers, who had helped end India’s first innings with a stunning catch to send back Kumble, came out to raucous cheers, but the feel-good atmosphere around the ground after a crisp square-drive was quickly punctured when he played across one from Pathan to be struck on the front pad. It was a marginal decision at best, but once again Asad Rauf gave the benefit of doubt to the bowler.
Two balls later, the Indian joy was doubled, with Phil Jaques edging a perfect outswinger to second slip. That left Australia at 2 for 13, and when Michael Hussey nibbled one behind off RP, India had well and truly turned the match around.
Both new-ball bowlers were operating at lively pace, with Pathan also getting the ball to shape in to the right-handers’ pads. When the next breakthrough came though, it was courtesy the third member of India’s pace brigade. Ricky Ponting had a disdainful swipe at Ishant’s second delivery, and connected with nothing but air. The next ball was beautifully pitched and drew him into the shot. Extra bounce did the rest, and the thick edge was brilliantly caught low to his right by Rahul Dravid at third slip.
When Ishant moved one away to take the outer edge of Michael Clarke’s bat, the innings was in tatters. Such situations though are made for Adam Gilchrist, cricket’s foremost firefighter. A Pathan full toss was stroked past mid-off, and a sublime straight-drive followed. Kumble tried to mix it up by bringing back RP, but his first ball was swatted away for four more.
At the other end, Andrew Symonds continued to have the lives of a cat. Dropped by Sachin Tendulkar at first slip when he’d made just three, he then saw a yorker from RP squeeze under the bat and head for middle before some Warne-like spin took it a couple of inches past the leg stump. And as he had in Sydney, Symonds made India pay. A couple of glorious straight drives set the tone, and when Kumble brought himself on, he responded with a heave over mid-on and a magnificent straight six that took him past 50 from just 44 balls.
The two had added 102 at frenetic pace when Kumble tempted Symonds to cut a quicker one. MS Dhoni couldn’t hold on, but the ball lobbed up off his gloves to Dravid, who made no mistake. Symonds had managed 66 from just 70 balls, and his departure once again put India right on top.
RP’s return from the Prindeville Stand End didn’t start well, with Gilchrist stroking three fours in succession. In this case though, revenge wasn’t a dish best served cold. The fourth ball reared up at him, and the edge was smartly taken by Dhoni. Gilchrist’s 55 had taken just 61 balls, and saved Australia from complete ignominy.
Brett Lee and Stuart Clark both edged behind as RP switched his line of attack to round the wicket, and when Shaun Tait looped a return catch back to Kumble via what appeared to be a spring-loaded pad, it was all over.
The end of the Indian innings had been equally swift. A morning that started with Dhoni being struck on the shoulder by a Mitchell Johnson bouncer continued in tentative fashion as Johnson and Lee worked up a nice rhythm in stifling heat. It was Pathan who decided to up the ante, with a gorgeous off-drive for four off Lee, and Dhoni joined in soon after with one of those typical flays through the off side when Johnson pitched too wide.
With the defiance extending to nearly an hour, Ponting called on Clark, and the end was swift. Dhoni was struck on the roll of the pad, and Rauf appeared to disregard the bounce in the pitch when he lifted the finger. There was further drama next ball when Kumble clipped one off the pads in front of square. Jaques dived forward to take it up, but immediately indicated that the ball had bounced first, avoiding any repeat of the controversy that marred the Sydney Test.
You couldn’t keep Clark out of the action though, and in Johnson’s next over, he dropped Kumble at point, failing to hold on after tumbling to his left. But there was to be no reprieve for India. Pathan was plumb in front to a low full toss, and the first ball of Clark’s next over saw Kumble drive on the up to point. And when RP fended a Johnson bouncer to gully, India had lost four wickets for two runs in just 17 balls.
On a pitch that was still great for batting, it looked at least a 100 short. India’s pace trio had other ideas though, and with Virender Sehwag crunching five boundaries before stumps, Australia were looking map-less in their quest for cricketing immortality.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Anil Kumble, Australia, India, India in Australia 2007, Ishant Sharma, Ricky Ponting
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Friday, January 18th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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