February 17, 2001

Kasprowicz saves Australia the blushes

The first day of the opening three day game between Australia and India A at the Vidharba Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur was a day of mixed fortunes. The Australian skipper Steve Waugh began the day on a happy note winning the toss on a good batting wicket. Little could he have realised what was in store for the day.

Michael Kasprowicz
Michael Kasprowicz : Top Scorer
Photo Paul McGregor

Australia were bowled out for 291 off 69.1 overs, sixty minutes after the tea interval. Michael Kasprowicz was the top scorer with 92 runs under his belt. Rahul Sanghvi was the wrecker-in-chief for India A bagging five for 40. At stumps India A were 71 for one after 18 overs.

Earlier, a fiery spell by left arm seam bowler Ashish Nehra reduced the Australian innings to 25 for three in six overs. Michael Slater pulled a short ball onto his stumps to set off the disaster trail. Two overs later, one drop batsman Justin Langer was back in the pavilion after being rapped on the pads by Nehra.

The skipper was a bit surprised to be batting at the wicket 20 minutes from the start of play. He looked rusty in his six ball stay at the wicket. He was dismissed when he edged a short ball moving away from his body, carrying to the wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia.

The India A skipper VVS Laxman had a big smile on his face until Ricky Ponting walked into the middle and turned the smile into a brow on the forehead. Ponting dispatched the mediumpacers to the boundary mercilessly, plundering the short pitched deliveries.

Nehra had figure of three wickets from three overs giving away 16 runs. After Ponting got stuck into him, he was hammered for 35 runs in the next five overs. Ponting raced away to 56 off 58 balls with nine hits to the fence. His dismissal came shortly before the lunch interval and also ended a 91-run partnership off 17.4 overs for the fourth wicket with Mathew Hayden.

The introduction of the spinners pegged back the Australian batsmen as seven of the ten wickets to fall went to spinners. Rahul Sanghvi and Harbajan Singh spun a web around the Australian middle order in the second session of the day.

The post lunch session saw three quick wickets falling, that of Hayden, Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist. Hayden had been playing patiently and watching the damage from the other end. He was unlucky to have missed out on his half-century by one run when he skied a sweep shot off Sanghvi.

Australia were reeling at 133 for seven before Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz put on a face saving 155-run partnership off 37.4 overs for the eighth wicket. Jason Gillespie made a chanceless halfcentury, scoring 57 off 131 balls with nine hits to the fence. He was foxed by Sanghvi with a flighted delivery resulting in a caught and bowled dismissal.

On the way, Kasprowicz reached a personal milestone of his highest first class score. He was unlucky to miss out on his century by eight runs. He was the last man out. He faced 114 balls and hit 12 fours and three sixes.

The India A openers S Ramesh and SS Das came out confidently and negotiated the new ball well. They raced on to 23 runs off five overs. Das was unlucky to be run out for 12. He played 31 balls and had two hits to the fence. An accurate throw from Steve Waugh caught Das short of his grounds.

One drop Laxman and Ramesh played safely and ended the day on 71 for one off 18 overs. Ramesh was on 43 off 61 balls with nine hits to the fence, Laxman was on six off 22 balls with one hit to the fence.