Hodge shines in drawn match
Indians 266 for 9 dec and 116 for 2 (Chopra 55*) drew with Victoria 518 for 8 dec (Hodge 264, Harvey 71)
Brad Hodge: piling on the misery for the Indians
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Brad Hodge showed up the lack of bite in the Indian bowling attack, hammering a superb double-hundred as the three-day match between Victoria and the Indians petered into a draw. Cameron White finally declared Victoria's innings at 518 for 8, shortly after Hodge fell for 264. It left the Indians with almost three hours to bat out, which they did quite comfortably, with Akash Chopra (55 not out) getting some useful practice and Sadagoppan Ramesh further strengthening his case for inclusion in the Test team.
The first two sessions belonged to Hodge, though, who scored 111 out of the 170 runs scored by Victoria today. His batting was punctuated by plenty of drives down the ground, as the Indian bowlers erred in length and served a generous dose of half-volleys. Zaheer Khan and L Balaji felt the heat early in the day, as Hodge repeatedly drove them in the V between mid-off and mid-on. Balaji provided the only cheer of the morning session for the Indians, trapping Ian Harvey in front for 71 to end a 161-run stand for the sixth wicket, but White joined Hodge to further prolong the Indian misery.
Hodge reached his double-century off 309 balls with his 26th four, a pull to the midwicket boundary off Balaji. Harbhajan Singh had another listless day, with White tonking him for a six and Hodge driving and cutting him for fours.
Sourav Ganguly had no option but to resort to the part-time bowlers, and it was Virender Sehwag who finally got the breakthrough, when Hodge edged a drive and was snapped up by Rahul Dravid at first slip (518 for 7). Hodge and White added 125 for the seventh wicket. Four balls later, White was on his way too, fishing at one outside off stump from Zaheer and nicking to Parthiv Patel, who latched on to the catch on his second attempt. The declaration came soon after, with Victoria achieving a first-innings lead of 252.
The Indian innings began with Sehwag getting off to a boundary-ridden start, lofting Mathew Inness over mid-off and cutting Harrop behind point. The entertainment didn't last long, though, as Harrop trapped him in front with one that nipped back and kept a trifle low (24 for 1).
Ramesh and Chopra ensured against a collapse, adding 90 for the second wicket. Chopra, out for just 2 in the first innings, redeemed himself with a well-compiled half-century. He was cautious early in his innings, scoring most of his runs with steers to third man. The circumspect approach was shunned only when David Hussey came on to bowl his offspinners - Chopra swept and then lofted him over midwicket for fours. Ramesh holed out to deep square leg late in the day for 36, allowing Dravid to come in and score his first run of the match.