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Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 1st day
Ravi Shastri: 'Umpiring errors hurt India'
January 2, 2008
A strong start by the Indian bowlers but Australia counter-attacked - a review of day one at the SCG
 
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Ravi Shastri: "RP Singh stepped up to the plate in the absence of Zaheer Khan" © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me a former India captain, Ravi Shastri, to look back on what was an action-packed day of cricket.

Ravi, after the Melbourne loss, India needed to bounce back strongly, and they did that today, especially in the first two sessions of play...

Ravi Shastri: [They] certainly did. You can't have Australia at 134 for 6 too often, so they [India] did exactly that, especially after [Ricky] Ponting had won a good toss. So credit must be given to the Indian bowlers - RP Singh and Harbhajan [Singh] bowled well in tandem in the first session of play. RP was the pick of the bowlers because he got the ball to swing when he pitched the ball up and don't forget, this track has a lot more pace in it than the one we saw at Melbourne.

AR: You've spoken about RP - his performance was very crucial especially in the absence of Zaheer Khan.

RS: In fact he did mention that at a post-match interview: he said that he was taken by surprise when he suddenly got to know that Zaheer [Khan] is not playing. He realised that he was the only fast bowler with experience in the side and he had to step up to the plate and deliver the goods. I thought he did extremely well, especially getting the four left-handers [out] the way he did.

AR: We also saw a good performance from Harbhajan Singh. He varied his pace and seemed to carry forward from his improved performance in the second innings in the Melbourne Test.

RS: Harbhajan bowled a lot slower and he got bounce and purchase from the track. The moment he bowls at around 81-82 kph, he gets more revolutions on the ball and it grips the surface and turns. But then you saw that as the day progressed and once Andrew Symonds and Brad Hogg started going on the attack, he [Harbhajan] started bowling a lot quicker and when he does that he becomes less effective.

AR: 134 for 6 ... India had Australia on the mat, but then we saw a typical Australian counter-attack.

RS: Yes, but while credit must go to the way Symonds and Hogg played, one cannot take away from the fact that India just did not have luck going their way. You know a couple of decisions, which on any other given day would have gone in favour of the touring side, might well have had Australia bowled out for under 200. One was Symonds when he was on 30 - a big outside edge and you could literally hear it from plenty of areas on the ground and that didn't go India's way - and the dismissal of Ponting. But there it evened out because Ponting was adjudged leg-before when he actually inside-edged the ball. But I thought the Symonds dismissal, first the caught behind and then a stumping which went to the third umpire, would have hurt the Indians even more.

AR: Australia have the runs on the board and this is a pitch that affords quite a bit of bounce. The Indian batsmen will be wary, especially given the way they played the Australian fast bowlers in Melbourne.

RS: It will be a real test for the Indians tomorrow. Like you mentioned, Australia have got the runs on the board, I think it's a very good score. They would like to carry on and take it past 400. On the other hand, the Indians would like to bowl them out as quickly as they can because I still think this pitch will be at its best tomorrow and for most of the third day. So it's important that you get off to a good start. The outfield is quicker and the ground is a little smaller than Melbourne so you should get a few more boundaries as well.

AR: Ravi, thank you for your views. We'll hear from you tomorrow. Till then it's goodbye.

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