India were at the receiving end of a couple of horrendous umpiring decisions on the opening day’s play of the 2nd Test at Sydney which has wasted their efforts of a great bowling performance. The Aussies were on the mat at 134 for 6, but at the end of the day’s play were sitting handsomely at 376 for 7. Andrew Symonds, who has been the beneficiary of the two bad decisions was still unfinished with 137.
The Indians received a jolt ahead of this test match with Zaheer Khan getting ruled out not only from the test but also the series because of an ankle injury. His place was taken by the tall and lanky Ishant Sharma. The Aussies went unchanged with their winning team and for the second time they won the toss and batted first. This time though, they were off to a bad start with both the openers falling cheaply. It was the extra bounce along with the new found swing that made RP Singh very special. He first dished out a short pitch delivery that Phil Jaques had steered straight into the gloves of the keeper. After two half centuries in the first test, Jaques couldn’t open his account in this test as he fell in the 3rd over. Hayden got a beauty which angled into him to make him play and the late swing away from him got the edge. Without any further damage, Australia finished at 95 for 2 at lunch with Ponting and Hussey doing the repair job in their style.
India could have had the wicket of Ponting before lunch. The first umpiring blunder came in the first session itself with Mark Benson not giving Ponting caught down the legside off Ganguly although the batsman had got a big nick. Ponting got his second reprieve just a few minutes before lunch when Dhoni failed to collect a sharp turning and bouncing off break from Harbhajan down the legside after Ponting had stepped out of his crease. Justice for the Indians was done in the afternoon session when Ponting was given out lbw to a doosra to which he had got an inside edge onto his pads. It was Mark Benson again giving the wrong decision. Ponting helped himself to 55 (from 69 balls with 9 fours) before that. He walked off the field angrily swinging his bat around. Australia were now 119 for 3 and within no minutes found themselves at 134 for 6.
Both RP Singh and Harbhajan Singh were making the inroads. First RP Singh got Hussey (41 from 79 with 3 fours) to dab at one half heartedly outside the off and then Michael Clarke (1 from 4) padded up to Harbhajan to be given out lbw. After that came the big wicket of Gilchrist (7 from 8), who had a similar dismissal to that of Hussey. Tendulkar was the second slip fielder taking three good catches in the slip cordon to complement RP’s bowling. India were right on the top of Australia in this test match, their morale was high but was soon brought down by a shocker from their old foe – Steve Bucknor! Batting on 30, Symonds was forced to edge Ishant Sharma to the wicket keeper. There was a huge noise as Symonds nicked that, the batsman looked behind spontaneously. He took a chance to stare at the Umpire who was unmoved. Nobody had to appeal at all for that, it was such an obvious nick for everyone except for the man who mattered – Steve Bucknor, who was both blind and deaf to that!
Symonds then with the company of Hogg took Australia to Tea at 214 for 6 in 52 overs. In the last session also there was a decision that was unfair for the Indians. This time it was the third umpire Bruce Oxenford, who turned down a clear stumping as not out. Symonds was the batsman lucky to escape this after he was comprehensively beaten by a leg break from Kumble. A smart Dhoni whipped the bails off in a fraction of a second when Symonds’ backfoot was in the air and trying to come down. The third umpire despite getting plenty of slow motion replays from different angles didn’t think that was out. Symonds was on 48 and there was no looking back at all for him and the Aussies for the rest of the day. Hogg at the other end was smoothly keeping the scoreboard moving with his strokeplay. He was lucky to have got a maiden half century after he had miscued a slog off Harbhajan early on in his innings which had eluded the fielder at mid on. Hogg and Symonds made India pay with their powerful strokeplay and both batsmen eased past their maiden fifties against India.
It was Anil Kumble breaking this massive record partnership for the 7th wicket when he had Hogg caught by Dravid at slip. Hogg made 79 (from 102 balls with 10 fours) out of a 173-run stand. That wicket came in the 72nd over and for the remaining part of the day’s play, there was no further success for the bowling side. Hogg was earlier dropped at short leg off Kumble when he was on 58 by Wasim Jaffer. India finished on an absolutely low note with none of the players sporting a smile on their faces. Towards the end, it was another frustrating partnership that kept them at bay with Symonds finding a perfect ally in Brett Lee to help Aussies finish the day at 376 for 7 in 89 overs. Symonds has 137 (from 173 balls with 17 fours and 2 sixes) to his name while Lee has got a confident 31 (from 67 balls with 5 fours).