India rock the Gabba on a rainy day
Close Australia 323 for 9 (Langer 121, Ponting 42; Zaheer 5-95) v India
Steve Waugh: kept his eye on the ball, and lost a bail
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A day riddled with breaks caused by rain and bad light belonged completely to India. A mere 16 overs were possible, and Australia lost an alarming seven wickets as they added 61 to their overnight score to reach 323 for 9. As the players took the final drinks break, natural light faded away, and the umpires called off play for the day. India, though, did anything but fade, on the day. Zaheer Khan was the shining star, ending on 5 for 95. On the day, he was good enough to pick up an expensive yet vital 3 for 42 from eight overs.
When play started, at the first possible moment, at 11.30am, Zaheer and Ajit Agarkar were pumped up. The rest in the dressing rooms seemed to have done them a world of good. Zaheer struck a good line and length straightaway, and put Justin Langer and Damien Martyn under pressure.
The first to go was Langer (121, 17 fours), trapped in front of the stumps by Agarkar just balls after smashing him to the cover fence. Late inswing aided Agarkar's skiddy mediumpace, and Australia were 268 for 3. Langer looked unhappy when he saw the slow finger of Rudi Koertzen going up, but replays showed that the ball pitched in line, and only swung enough to beat the bat. It would not have gone past the leg stump.
Steve Waugh walked out to the middle amidst loud cheers from the Gabba crowd. But things began badly for him. Martyn (42) languidly punched a ball through cover, and scurried away to make the most of it. Waugh, momentarily ignoring Martyn, ran back for a tight third run. Martyn took a few steps down the wicket, then changed his mind and frantically pleaded with his partner to go back. By this time it was too late for Waugh to reverse his momentum and turn around. Harbhajan Singh's throw from the deep was not the greatest, but it still gave Parthiv Patel enough time to lob the ball to Sourav Ganguly, who eagerly whipped the bails off at the bowler's end. Martyn had sacrificed his wicket (275 for 4). Ironically, the run-out came off a no-ball, accentuating the bizarre nature of the dismissal.
Ajit Agarkar: started the slide by getting rid of Justin Langer
Could Waugh make up for the Martyn run-out with a big score? Not today. A quick bouncer from Zaheer, who had been bowling well all morning, had Waugh moving to the off side and tickling the ball fine. While all eyes turned to Patel behind the stumps, Waugh overbalanced, trod on the stumps, and knocked the bail of the off stump out of its position. Waugh was hit-wicket for a duck, and the Indians were grinning ear to ear (275 for 5).
From that moment on, the Indians could hardly put a foot wrong. As they were eating lunch, the rains came down, keeping the players indoors till 4.20pm. Then came a passage of play where India drove home the advantage.
Adam Gilchrist lasted just four balls, and registered the second duck of the innings when he edged Zaheer to Laxman in the slips cordon (276 for 6). The Indians were visibly buoyed by the fall of Gilchrist's wicket. There was a spring in the step of fielders, and the fast bowlers kept the heat up. Andy Bichel (11) tried to play too many strokes, and edged Ajit Agarkar to Laxman in the slips (302 for 7).
Eight runs later Simon Katich's nervous 16-run stay at the wicket ended. He poked tentatively at a Zaheer delivery and feathered a catch to Parthiv Patel behind the stumps (310 for 8).
Jason Gillespie did not hang around for too long. To start off, he was tested with some sharp deliveries from Agarkar. He played and missed more than once, and was distinctly uncomfortable. Gillespie then got carried away when he worked the ball through the off side. He attempted an overambitious fourth run, and Harbhajan's good throw deposited the ball in Agarkar's hands right over the stumps at the bowler's end. Two rather sheepish tailenders were at the other end of the wicket, and an easy run out resulted (317 for 9).
As soon as thoughts of wrapping up the innings quickly and facing a tricky passage of play entered the minds of the Indians, the light worsened and play was called off. You can bet your bottom dollar India were not unhappy with that.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.