Second Test Match

India v Australia

Toss: Australia. Test debut: P. Wilson.

Rather than make amends for their batting failures in the First Test, Australia plumbed new depths. They could not blame the pitch; in between their innings of 233 and 181, India amassed 633 for five, their biggest total ever against Australia and the highest total at Eden Gardens. No Indian was dismissed for less than 65, while only two Australians passed 45. Australia had bad luck with injuries and umpiring errors. But so vast was the chasm that it made little difference as they surrendered the series.

Azharuddin scored his fifth century in six Tests on this ground, and it was one of his masterpieces: 163 not out in 310 minutes with 18 fours and three sixes. But with the pitch so amiable, it was apt that a bowler was named Man of the Match - and that it was Srinath, rather than Kumble, whose bag was fuller by two wickets, for Srinath's strikes made the bigger impact. He bowled with pace and accuracy, cutting the ball back and, in the second innings, reverse-swinging it menacingly.

In the first over of the match, Srinath, producing extra bounce from a length, had Slater caught at short leg. His next ball bowled Blewett, and within half an hour he had Mark Waugh lbw. Taylor could not locate the middle of his bat and, having made only three in 49 minutes, sliced one that Ganguly - sharing the new ball because India had dropped Harvinder Singh- slanted across him.

India's ascendancy, established in that first over, was challenged only during a partnership of 112 between Steve Waugh and Ponting, which had its roots in a miserable 29 for four. It would have been 51 for five had Ponting not got away with a snick off Kumble to Mongia, who missed nothing else. But for two and a half hours, they batted with an air of permanence until Ponting pulled at a ball from Kumble that was not short enough. Waugh, who had strained his groin, was out when his runner, Blewett, failed to make his ground. His disability notwithstanding, he had batted with poise for a flawless 80, with 13 fours. Resistance thereafter was confined to a ninth-wicket stand of 54 between Robertson and Kasprowicz.

India had picked Laxman at the last minute, from outside their squad of 12, to open the batting with Sidhu. The pairing was a triumph: they put on 191 in only 40 overs. Australia had also made one change, because of an injury to Reiffel's shoulder, but Paul Wilson had a disappointing debut as their latest opening bowler. His leg-stump line invited punishment from Laxman, who is strong off his legs, and neither he nor Kasprowicz pitched the ball up as Srinath did. Both openers fell just short of a hundred, Sidhu missing a deflection at Mark Waugh and Laxman edging a square-cut. Tendulkar launched an immediate assault. He bent the bowling to his will, reaching 50 off only 60 balls, but a lapse of concentration cost him his wicket on 79, including 12 fours and two sixes. Kasprowicz and Warne checked the scoring next morning and Dravid, impatient for his century, fell to Blewett. But once the bowlers tired, Azharuddin cut loose and Ganguly joined in the plunder.

In Australia's second innings, Taylor began to bat soundly at last, but was run out by agile fielding from Laxman at short leg. Healy and the injured Steve Waugh resisted for a while until they, like Blewett, were out to dubious lbw decisions which expedited Australia's demise on the fourth evening.

Man of the Match: J. Srinath.

Close of play: First day, Australia 233; Second day, India 369-3 ( R. Dravid 76*, M. Azharuddin 9*); Third day, Australia 38-1 ( M. A. Taylor 11*, G. S. Blewett 19*).

© John Wisden & Co