Second Test Match

Australia v India, 1999-2000

At Melbourne, December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. Australia won by 180 runs. Toss: India. Test debuts: B. Lee; H. H. Kanitkar.

Australia's elation at winning this Test, and with it the series, was all the greater for the contribution of their new recruit, Brett Lee, who took seven wickets in the match, including five for 47 in the first innings. Lee for Kasprowicz was the only change from the eleven that won the First Test, while India left out Gandhi, clearly shell-shocked, promoted Laxman to open in his place, and took aboard the left-handed Hrishikesh Kanitkar to bat in the middle order.

India's fast bowlers were not disciplined enough to capitalise on first use of a bouncy pitch which, having sweated under the covers, also provided movement off the seam. Slater was in splendid touch and, with Mark Waugh patient in the absence of form, Australia rallied from a poor start to share the honours of a rain-shortened first day. Play had not got under way until the afternoon. Srinath and Agarkar were accurate and hostile in later spells, but by then Slater and Waugh were well entrenched.

There were further interruptions for rain on the second day. India's bowlers, not allowing for the fact that the ball was in middle age and less resilient, pitched too short and again paid a highprice for the two wickets captured. Slater hooked a wide ball high and straight to long leg - his eighth Test dismissal in the 90s - while misjudgment of width in square-cutting toppled Steve Waugh. Bad light, immediately followed by a thunderstorm, ended play early, but the Delegates Room at the MCG was lit till late as the referee, Ranjan Madugalle, conducted a lengthy hearing on Venkatesh Prasad's conduct after dismissing Slater. He had pumped the air with upturned fists in the batsman's face as he departed, and it earned him a heavy fine plus a suspension held in abeyance.

When Australia resumed at 332 for five on the third day, India's hopes of a win were already distant. By the close, the spectre of defeat was staring at them. The satisfaction of removing Ponting, the rapacious Gilchrist - this pair had put on 144 for the sixth wicket, mostly the previous day - and Warne in the space of four runs all came to nothing once the tail wagged furiously. Lee, the debutant, spent 77 productive minutes in the middle with Fleming, adding 59.

This cameo helped ensure that Lee was free of stage fright when Waugh brought him on to bowl the sixth over of the Indian innings. He struck with only his fourth ball, bowling Ramesh off the inside edge, and later in the day was in line for a hat-trick, reverse-swinging a ball almost 59 overs old to dismiss Mannava Prasad and Agarkar. By then, the innings was a shambles, for all that Tendulkar remained unscathed, gathering runs with deft placements and assaults on the rare loose ball. He and the equally defiant Kumble saved the follow-on but, with only five overs left to the close, Tendulkar pulled a long-hop straight to square leg. He had made 116 out of a total of 212, with a straight six off Warne but only nine fours.

Gilchrist's previous mastery over Kumble saw him come in at No. 4 to provide Australia with quick runs after the early loss of two second-innings wickets. He obliged with 55 off 73 balls, and Waugh declared with a lead of 375 and a minimum of 126 overs remaining.

Laxman again fell cheaply, and Ramesh batted for only one over on the final morning before retiring hurt, his left thumb broken the previous evening when he fended a bouncer from Lee on to his helmet. Lee produced another very fast delivery to get rid of Dravid. However, it was an inspired move by Waugh, giving Blewett a short spell just before lunch, that breached the remaining partnership that could have frustrated Australia. With his penultimate ball before the interval, Blewett bowled Ganguly with one that skidded through low. Soon after the resumption, Warne's only wicket of the innings sealed India's doom, for it was Tendulkar. Absolutely composed hitherto in making 52, Tendulkar misread his old adversary's intentions, shouldered arms and was lbw. Kanitkar and Mannava Prasad held the Australians up, but Waugh again proved the adage that fortune favours a winning captain. Turning to his brother Mark's off-spin, he was rewarded with consecutive wickets. Kumble was able to prevent a hat-trick but not the defeat.

Man of the Match: S. R. Tendulkar. Attendance: 134,554.

© John Wisden & Co