Australia sat pretty most part of the opening day’s play on Skipper Ricky Ponting’s maiden Test Match hundred in India but towards the end seemed to have lost the advantage. The first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy that is being played at Bangalore is currently at Even-Stevens after an absorbing first day’s play. The Aussies slipped down to 254 for 4 from a position of strength at 226 for 2 enabling India to come back strongly back in the game.
The home side would fancy their chances of bowling them out under 350! But India still have some work to do and so do the Aussies towards their respective goals tomorrow morning. The Australian team has a lot of batting depth that includes no.11 Stuart Clark and it will take some magic from the Indian bowlers to wipe them out in a hurry. For the Aussies, it wouldn’t be easy for the likes of Haddin, White and Watson to get the better of a fresh Harbhajan and Kumble. The key for both the sides will be Michael Hussey, who is well set on 46. The man who changed the fortunes of the game today was left arm pacer Zaheer Khan as he removed the dangerous Matt Hayden in the first over of the match and then in the last over struck a lethal blow by getting Michael Clarke out lbw in the last over of the day’s play.
It was Ricky Ponting’s day at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium for sure. Ponting first won the crucial toss which helped his side to take advantage of the best batting conditions. The tourists gave debut to all-rounder Cameron White to fill in as the lone spinner in an attack comprising four fast bowlers. India had to be defensive by including the six batsmen, Dhoni and just the four bowlers. Amit Mishra had to sit out on the bench. The match kicked off in a sensational fashion when Matthew Hayden was given caught behind off a fabulous delivery from Zaheer Khan that swung back into the left hander and held its line outside the off stump. Dhoni appealed for a catch and it appeared to be not out at the first instance and when Asad Rauf raised his finger, one thought that it was probably the faintest of nicks. But the slow motion replays had shown that Hayden and Australia were hard done by as the noise that had come was because of the bat striking the pad! Big man Hayden was reduced to a duck by that and Ponting had to come into the middle in the fourth delivery of the match.
Ponting and Katich had to weather the storm which they had done perfectly well to repair the early damage caused. They survived a testing spell from Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan and made sure that Australia saw the first session through with the loss of just Hayden. The score was 75 for 1 in 27 overs at lunch which showed that both teams didn’t run away with any advantage. After lunch, both Ponting and Katich consolidated to make life tough for the Indians. Anil Kumble was running out of options as the partnership became better and better until 10 minutes before Tea when Katich lost his concentration to play a loose shot outside the off stump from an Ishant Sharma delivery. Katich piled up 66 from 149 balls with 7 fours while shuffling across his off stump all the time. Australia went into Tea at a strong position at 166 for 2 with Ponting just the six runs short of conquering his devils in India. The post lunch session also saw the bowlers making the batsmen work hard for their runs as just 91 runs were scored in 30 overs.
In the final session, Ricky Ponting got to his maiden Test hundred on Indian soil in what was his third tour. The Australian Skipper celebrated it with all the joy and satisfaction as his previous highest score in this country was just around 60. Ponting always goes big whenever he scores a century and today was no different as he batted with a lot of application. Along with Michael Hussey, he made sure that the bowlers and the fielders ran out fuel. Kumble was now looking for the second new ball to bring in some results but fortunately enough Harbhajan Singh struck gold for him at the right time. Harbhajan for the ninth time got the wicket of Ricky Ponting and this time it was an lbw when the right hander failed to connect his sweep shot. Ponting was struck low on his pad infront of the off stump and Asad Rauf gave the decision in favour of the turbanator. The Australian Skipper by then cracked 123 with 13 fours in 243 balls. Ponting put on 166 with Katich that was followed up with 60 for the 3rd wicket with Hussey. Towards the end of the day, Harbhajan and Sehwag were looking threatening but Kumble decided it was better off to take the second new ball. And that did the trick when Zaheer produced the perfect incoming delivery to trap Michael Clarke in the final over of the day’s play. Michael Clarke (11 from 28) was really unlucky as he wouldn’t have been facing the last over but for the quick single that he had stolen in the last ball of the penultimate over.
Australia ended the opening day at 254 for 4 in 89.2 overs with Michael Hussey batting on an industrious 46 (from 115 balls with 5 fours). The pitch has been behaving in a peculiar manner with the ball not really coming on and not at all carrying to the wicket keeper. There was an interesting moment when MS Dhoni had taken the courage of standing upto the stumps to Zaheer Khan who was bowling at sharp speeds of 135 kmph plus. But that move from Dhoni was to force Ponting to stay in his crease to Zaheer.