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November 27, 1999


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Queensland maul Indian bowling

The Rediff team

Do unto others before they do unto you.

It's a principle the Bombay Ranji team, under Tendulkar, employed against Australia when Steve Waugh and his men last toured India. In the warm-up game, the Bombay squad, under instructions from Tendulkar who, in fact, led the way with a blazing double hundred, went after Shane Warne.

The intent was obvious. With Glenn McGrath not part of the touring party, the Indians had figured that Warne was the danger man -- and deliberately decided to blast him out of the attack, with the intention of ruining his confidence ahead of the Tests.

Now it is India's -- specifically, Anil Kumble's -- turn to be on the receiving end of the same tactic. And if Tendulkar led the assassination attempt against Warne on home soil, it was Andrew Symonds for Queensland and Australia, playing hitman.

The Indian innings terminated quickly on the second morning, the tourists putting 277 on the board off a little under 92 overs. And the Indians began well with the ball, Mohanty quickly taking out Jimmy Maher after troubling him with swing and seam.

Mathew Hayden and Martin Love then dug in, and batted the home side back into the match, Hayden in particular batting with a care and circumspection that suggested he was playing with an eye on a Test recall. Prasad finally took out Hayden, getting his edge with a leg-cutter, and India seemed to be getting back into the game when a Kumble throw ran out Queensland skipper Stuart Law immediately thereafter, to have the home team down to 91/3.

But that was the last joy the Indians were to have in a long time, as the hard-hitting Symonds joined Love in a partnership that took the game away from the tourists. Treating the seam bowling with some respect, Symonds in particular turned harsh against the spin of Kumble, lifting the leg break bowler back over his head for a six, then slamming continuous fours -- the first a savage pull through midwicket when Kumble dropped short, then a drive through the off cordon when the bowler tried a flipper on a fullish length.

While Love played with more discretion, Symonds opened his shoulders in a series of power-packed drives and pulls, playing the lead in a partnership that saw the batsmen racing each other to their respective centuries. Love, the more deliberate of the two, got to his century in 154 balls (and, when on 113, brought up his 5000 first class runs) while Symonds, the aggressor, raced to his century off just 110 balls, with 17 fours and the six off Kumble.

The two were involved in a partnership of exactly 200 runs, in course of which they took Queensland past the Indian total, in the 65th over (as opposed to the 92 overs India took to make those runs). In the final session of play, Kumaran -- who seemed to have been a touch underbowled on the day -- brought some relief to the Indians, taking out Love, Foley and wicket-keeper Seccombe in short order, to turn in impressive figures of 3/54 at the end of the day off 18 overs. Mohanty impressed in spells, but on the day's showing, Kumaran was surely the best of the Indian seam bowlers, getting nip and movement off the deck and in the air.

Mohanty did India's cause a big service when he got one to straighten, in the dying moments of play, to trap Symonds in place. By then, however, the powerful middle order batsman had mauled the Indian attack to the tune of 161 runs off just 174 balls, blazing 26 fours besides the huge six off Kumble in a brilliant display of strokeplay.

His biggest contribution, however, was his assault on Kumble, which will be a worrying factor for the Indians, who will depend on the leg spinner to spearhead their attack when the Test series begins. How well Kumble comes back from this battering (121 runs taken off 26 overs, not a maiden, or a wicket, to show for that spell), thus, becomes a key question for the Indians in the days to come.

At close, Queensland had made 363/7 off 87 overs, leading India on the first innings by 86 runs with three wickets in hand.


Mail Prem Panicker