Tendulkar and Ramesh save India's blushes
Close Indians 266 for 9 (Ramesh 87, Tendulkar 80, Parthiv 52*) v Victoria
Sadagoppan Ramesh - 87 vital runs at Melbourne
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Tendulkar (80) and Ramesh (87) added 128 for the fourth wicket to bail the Indians out after a wobbly start, but Mathew Inness, the left-arm seamer, and Cameron White, the 20-year-old legspinner, chipped away at the Indian batting to ensure that Victoria had the better of the proceedings. Inness finished the day with 4 for 64 - the highlight being his domination of Rahul Dravid, whom he kept runless for 20 balls before dismissing him with the 21st - while White mopped up the tail with 4 for 59.
The decision to bat backfired when Akash Chopra (2), Virender Sehwag (23) and Dravid (0) perished early. Chopra was caught at the wicket off Brett Harrop in the fourth over of the match (8 for 1), while Sehwag flourished briefly, hitting five fours before chipping a drive off Inness to Brad Hodge at mid-off (41 for 2). When Dravid perished, driving at a wide ball to Jonathon Moss at point, the Indian innings was in danger of unravelling rather quickly (45 for 3).
Mathew Inness en route to four wickets on the first day
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At the other end, Ramesh demonstrated the kind of concentration he is often accused of lacking. He did show a few flourishes as he grew in confidence, creaming Inness for two fours in the over before tea, but for the large part, it was an innings characterised by resolute defence and self-discipline.
Tendulkar's assault lit up the afternoon session, though, as the run-rate spurted from a less than two an over to more than three. The innings was motoring along - and a hundred was there for the taking for Tendulkar - when Inness returned to pull things back with two wickets in one over.
First, Tendulkar drove off the back foot and was caught by David Hussey at point (173 for 4). Five balls later, Sourav Ganguly was back in the hutch too. After getting off the mark with a pleasing drive through cover for a couple, he flicked one straight to Jason Arnberger at midwicket (175 for 5).
Ramesh carried on, though, adding 45 for the sixth wicket with Parthiv before driving at White and giving Harrop a low catch in the covers. Ramesh consumed 191 balls for his 87, and with the two first-choice openers failing in this match, firmly staked his claim early in the series.
Parthiv started off cautiously, but with wickets falling at the other end, he soon became more adventurous, slapping Inness over point and then flicking him to square leg for fours. Nehra bettered Dravid's effort earlier in the day, staying runless for 25 balls and allowing Parthiv to reach a well-deserved half-century.