India v Australia 2008-09 / News

India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 5th day

Solid India hold on for draw

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

October 13, 2008

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Australia 430 (Hussey 146, Ponting 123, Zaheer 5-91, Ishant 4-77) and 228 for 6 dec (Watson 41, Ishant 3-40) drew with India 360 (Zaheer 57*, Harbhajan 54, Dravid 51) and 177 for 4 (Tendulkar 49, Laxman 42*)
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How they were out


VVS Laxman concentrated hard and helped India secure the draw © AFP
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Five days on a cracking pitch could not separate Australia and India, who will head to Mohali for Friday's second Test at 0-0 after playing out a draw in Bangalore. VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar helped grind out the result - or lack of - which was a pleasing outcome for India after Australia dominated the first couple of days.

Hoping for another Sydney, Ricky Ponting set India 299 from 83 overs but his attack lacked the firepower to blast through India's resolute middle order. For the full five days the surface had featured crevices so wide that, had the wiry Ishant Sharma gone missing, you would know where to look. Strangely, it continued to play relatively well throughout. Occasional deliveries spat and bounced while others stayed low but batsmen who applied themselves could survive.

However, scoring remained difficult and once Virender Sehwag departed cheaply, India's target was largely irrelevant. As Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Laxman held off Australia's bowlers it began to look like the only celebration would be a personal one as Tendulkar closed in on Brian Lara's all-time Test run-scoring record. Even that party was put on hold when Tendulkar fell 14 short of Lara's mark.

At least he made a major contribution to saving a game Australia will feel they should have won. The parallels with Sydney for much of the final day were obvious: again India were set a target that was all but out of reach and again they went to tea with seven wickets in hand.

But the Chinnaswamy Stadium is not the SCG. In Sydney more was happening, both off the field and on it. In that game an average of 321 runs were scored each day; in this Test the figure was 239. And in Sydney the game finished with the sun still shining; in Bangalore bad light interrupted proceedings when Australia required miracles.

Viewed in its entirety, the hard-fought match was like Test cricket of old. Five full days of relatively low-scoring play without a result provided the starkest possible contrast to the IPL, which was the last major cricket played in Bangalore. Consecutive sixes were commonplace in the IPL; there weren't two in this entire Test.

It didn't stop the deafening roars from the crowd as Tendulkar and Laxman fought off Australia's attack. Tendulkar put together two incredibly valuable partnerships that all but secured the draw after India lost two early wickets that gave Australia a sniff. He combined with Gambhir for a 53-run stand and then added 61 with Laxman. The responsibility was then passed on to Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, who prodded away the spin and built a 39-run partnership that took India through to the close.

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  • Anil Kumble went wicketless in a Test (those in which he's bowled) for the third time in his career, and for the first time when he's bowled in both innings. Kumble, who just played his last Test in Bangalore, has taken 41 wickets in nine Tests at the Chinnaswamy stadium.
  • Brad Haddin conceded 39 byes in the match, the highest by an Australian wicketkeeper. Rodney Marsh held the record, giving away 36 against the West Indies in 1973.
  • The percentage of runs scored by each side in boundaries was almost the same. Australia scored 44.9% of their runs in boundaries (67 fours and 1 six), and India 45.6 % (54 fours).
  • Fast bowlers fared far better than spinners. The pace attack took 24 wickets at an average of 23.33, while spinners picked up just six, averaging 89.33 per wicket.
  • Rahul Dravid averages just 21.69 in seven matches at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, his home ground.
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Laxman's concentration was complete. He watched the ball closely, defended with ease and did not get bogged down at one end. The same could be said of Tendulkar, until a momentary slip-up that gave Cameron White an experience he will never forget - he picked up Tendulkar as his first Test wicket. White threw up a delivery outside off and drew Tendulkar into an airy drive that was snaffled at cover. A teary White, Test legspinner, celebrated just over a week after playing as a batting allrounder in club cricket in Melbourne.

The lack of a truly dangerous frontline slow bowler did restrict Australia. Michael Clarke and White sent down 38 overs between them and, although they gave the batsmen moments of trouble, rarely did they look like running through the order. Nor could the fast bowlers provide the necessary spark, although they threatened to light a fuse early in India's innings. It seemed like India's batting order would break apart quicker than the deceptive pitch when they lost Sehwag and Rahul Dravid within the first nine overs.

Sehwag, the one man who might have made Ponting nervous about the target, was taken at first slip off Stuart Clark having been dropped by Brad Haddin off the previous Brett Lee over. India's 16 for 1 became 24 for 2 when Dravid flicked Lee to short midwicket, where Ponting dived acrobatically to take the catch.

It gave Australia's captain reason to believe that batting into the final day - the lower order added 35 to the overnight total - was not a bad decision. His attack simply didn't have the time or weaponry to finish the task. It meant no real answers to the two primary questions that hung over Australia in the lead-up: could a pair of half-spinners add up to a whole, and could the fast bowlers prove matchwinners in India.

The hosts entered the Test with a query or two as well. India's Fab Four were under pressure and while Laxman, Tendulkar and Ganguly were major reasons the game was saved, rarely in either innings did they look like dominating Australia's bowlers. Anil Kumble was also being pressed on his retirement plans; his rickety right shoulder and failure to take a wicket have done nothing to suppress those questions.

After five days, 30 wickets and 1195 runs, neither side can claim to be especially better off than the other. It's time for Mohali.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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