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|December 5, 1999||
India beat New South WalesChinmaya Pandey in Australia
It was indeed a fitting reply. After being heckled by the local press, the Indians finally came up with a performance worthy of an international side.
NSW started the day at 64/1 still needing another 222 runs to win and 9 good wickets in hand. While the target looked stiff, it was still gettable, provided the NSWelshmen got a good positive start to the day.
They, however, decided against chasing. The result was a pretty boring first session of cricket, which produced 42 slow runs.
Srinath began, not getting much bounce, but trying gamely nevertheless. He was beginning to get his incutters going. One such delivery to nightwatchman Robertson, darted in and caught him half cock, right in front. NSW 2/80.
Bhardwaj at the other end, was given his first bowl of the match. He, of the fast off spin variety, did manage to bottle one end up with some tight bowling. It was however, more a making of the NSW batsman, opener Greg Hayne and Bevan choosing not to attack.
Ganguly, true to nature, made swift bowling changes, in order to effect a breakthrough, which didnt happen. Lunch was taken after what seemed 2 very long hours at 2/106.
Post lunch, though, the momentum seemed to swing India's way. There was a noticeable change in attitude of everyone on the field, with Ganguly leading from the front.
Srinath and Venky started proceedings, rightly so too, as they looked India's best bowlers at that stage. Looking to generate some pace and bounce, Srinath got one to cut back sharply at Bevan, who shouldered arms and was caught right in front, the umpire not hesitating to send him on his way. That was a crucial wicket, of Bevan. NSW 3/106.
The new man, Shane Lee was welcomed to the wicket by a toe crushing yorker, which crashed into his pads, the umpire negating the appeal though. A very close call that. Venky at the other end, was again, getting his leg cutters to fly off the pitch off a good length.
The opener, Greg Hayne has a strange technique for an opener. With hardly any backlift, his favourite shot seems to be the poke and prod outside off, which against quality bowling, is always dangerous. He however, managed to hold one end up, which at that stage, was what NSW was looking for.
One fantastic over by Prasad though, changed the course of the game. The first ball was a good leg cutter, which was edged by Shane Lee through the slips for a boundary. Next ball was a beauty. Pitched in line with off stump, it moved just a shade away, enticing Lee to edge it to Ganguly at first slip. Copybook exhibition of a leg cutter by big Prasad.
In the same over, he induced Micheal Clarke to edge through slips for a brace and then produced a delivery which kept low, crashing through Clarke's defence, the off stump sent cartwheeling. These 3 wickets meant that NSW, from a relatively comfortable position of 2/106 at lunch was now 5/117 and with its back to the wall.
India was now on fire. Ganguly, visibly egged everyone around and one noticed a new resolve in the Indians, a spring in their step, as they sensed victory. Balls were being chased harder and throws were becoming flatter and harder, an indication of the players' renewed interest in the game!
Haddin started from where he left off, greeting Srinath with a classic cover driven boundary. Just when the Hayne and Haddin partnership looked threatening, Agarkar, who was brought back, produced a peach of a delivery to get rid of Haddin.
The ball, pitched on the off, seemed to be coming in naturally to the batsman. It however, seamed away just that shade on pitching and hit the top of off stump. Haddin looking to play inside the line, was deceived by the late away movement and was shocked to see his furniture disturbed. His reaction on getting out told a tale. NSW 6/157.
Agarkar's innings of 65* yesterday seems to have done him a world of good. Today, he bowled with fire and confidence, produced a timely wicket and has now given the team management a new headache. Kumaran or Agarkar for the first Test?
Hayne meanwhile plodded along gamely, watching the carnage at the other end. He was joined by Corey Richards, who came out late in the order with a runner. Apparently, he still hadnt recoverd from the painful blow he received on his groin/hip region from Prasad in the first innings.
A word about Ganguly's captaincy. Today, he was most impressive, exhorting his bowlers, fielders and setting just the right fields. One such impressive, thoughtful move resulted in the Hayne's demise. Noticing that Hayne has the habit of pushing at the spinners through the point region, Ganguly brought in a fielder in that position and completely bottled up the easy singles that Hayne was getting until then.
The result was another tentative prod outside off to a Kumble floater, the nick well held by Dravid behind the stumps. It was now all over bar the shouting, NSW reduced to 7/171 at tea.
It took the Indian's 6 overs after tea to clean up the tail with Kumble adding to his tally. He finished with 4, to finish the match with figures of 8/88, a good comeback by him after the mauling he received in the first match.
Overall, the positives to come out of the match was Agarkar's batting and his second innings bowling, Ganguly's form with the bat but more importantly his impressive aggressive captaincy. One feels he is a candidate better suited for the top job.
A win is a win. Even if it's against the bottom most side in the Pura Milk Cup. India have another match to play on December 7th, against the PM's XI. Its a one day game, which coming 3 days before the first Test, is a surprising glitch in the itinerary.
India, however, should go into the Adelaide with confidence. With Sachin back, the Indian top order looks good and the bowling very aggressive.
The Aussies will do well not to underestimate this Indian side.
Mail Sports Editor
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