India have started off well in their quest of squaring the 4-Test Series 2-2 with a strong batting performance on the opening day of the Adelaide Test. The tourists are in a decent position at 309 for 5 with Sachin Tendulkar, the main architect of the innings still on an unfinished mission. Tendulkar made a masterful 124 (from 172 balls with 10 fours) which rescued the Indians from a slightly shaky position.
The homeside made two changes with Hayden and Hogg coming in for Rogers and Tait. India got Harbhajan Singh to replace Wasim Jaffer and pushed Irfan Pathan to open the innings. Anil Kumble won a good toss and he decided to bat first on a good batting track at the Adelaide Oval. Irfan Pathan failed to make a good impact as an opener which got Dravid to come in the middle in the 8th over. While Sehwag gathered some quick runs with his usual dashing strokeplay, Dravid was grinding the attack. Just when things were looking pretty solid for the Indians, Mitchell Johnson struck for the second time to reduce India at 82 for 2 just before lunch. Dravid like Irfan Pathan was made to nick one behind the wicket by the left armer.
The second session saw Sachin Tendulkar blossoming with three consecutive fours off Mitchell Johnson. Sehwag at the other end got a bit frustrated by some disciplined bowling from Brett Lee and eventually nicked one behind off the same bowler to make it 122 for 3. Sehwag made 63 (from 90 balls with 6 fours) but all the Indian supporters would have loved to see him bat for another hour atleast. India further lost the plot when Asad Rauf adjudged Sourav Ganguly (7) lbw despite putting in a giant stride forward in his sweep shot to a Hogg delivery. That left India in a spot of bother at 156 for 4. The inform duo of Tendulkar and VVS Laxman had to do the resurrection act which they did before Tea and after Tea.
Both Tendulkar and Laxman hardly gave anything to the Aussies with their wonderful shot selection. Both right handers refreshingly used their feet to the spinners to put Ponting in deep trouble. Hogg and Michael Clarke were never allowed to settle down by this pair. The Aussies were down and out as this partnership grew big to get the innings in a fine shape. Brett Lee came back with a new spell with lot of energy and he got Laxman (on 37) to poke at one outside off but that was spilled down by an ever reliable Gilchrist. Laxman after that tightened up and helped Tendulkar reach his 39th hundred. Tendulkar stroked his way to three figures, when he was on 87, he chipped down the track to lift Clarke over long on for a boundary. And when he was on 92, he came down the track again to lift the same bowler over his head for a six. The hundred came in the next ball when he drove one elegantly past mid off for a boundary. Tendulkar took just the 133 balls to get there! Inspired by Tendulkar, VVS too approached his milestone of getting to a fifty.
Laxman (51 from 102 with 5 fours) didn’t last long though as he took his eyes off a Brett Lee’s nasty lifter to be caught behind off his gloves. India looked vulnerable yet again with the score at 282 for 5 and a little under an hour left in the day’s play. The Aussies would have gone onto take their 6th wicket as well but for another sitter put down off the hard working Brett Lee. This time Hayden was the culprit at first slip with the batsman being MS Dhoni, who fought his way in the middle to remain unbeaten at stumps on 6 from 54 balls. Australia had taken the second new ball during the last over of the day’s play. India hold the edge over Australia at the close of the first day with Tendulkar still there. It was a pity that the Aussies could bowl only 86 overs despite 30 minutes of extra time.