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Watson, Zaheer shine to keep it Even-Stevens at Mohali

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Zaheer Khan MohaliThe opening day’s honours were shared by both India and Australia in the first Test at Mohali. Shane Watson with his second Test hundred and Zaheer Khan with three wickets were the stars for their respective teams. It was an unusually negative approach shown by the Aussies which saw them end the first day at 224 for 5 in 90 overs having won the toss and electing to bat first. The last session of this first day was a shock with the Aussies just the 45 runs in 33 overs!

Zaheer Khan provided a healthy start for India by trapping Simon Katich lbw in the 5th over. It was a pitch that was totally un-Mohali type with absoloutely no pace, bounce and carry at all! Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting after a slightly cautious approach did the repair job efficiently to take Australia to 101 for 1 in 28 overs by Lunch.

India had a few chances going down in the first session and they had to pay for that in the afternoon session. But with the wickets of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, the hosts found some energy finally. First it was Ricky Ponting getting run out after Watson had wrongly called him for a single having flicked one towards Suresh Raina at mid wicket in the 42nd over. A direct hit from the young man saw Ponting (71 from 124 balls with 10 fours) short of his crease and at the receiving end in a spat with Zaheer Khan. Michael Clarke (14) departed just 10 minutes prior to Tea after edging a square cut off Harbhajan Singh to Dravid at slip who held onto a sharp chance. Australia went to Tea at 179 for 3 in 57 overs.

In the final session, the pair of Watson and Hussey went into a shell and runs were hard to come by. After a few tight overs from the spinners, Zaheer Khan came back into the attack warming up to take the second new ball but got plenty of reverse swing to change the game totally. Zaheer with his second delivery of a new spell struck the pad of Hussey (17 from 76 balls) with a reversing inswinger in the 83rd over. He then got one to swing back and bounce just enough to take the off bail of the left handed Marcus North (0) who thought he was only leaving a regulation ball outside off.

Towards the end of the day’s play, Shane Watson managed to remain undefeated on 101 (from 279 balls with 8 fours). His new partner was wicket keeper Tim Paine who was lucky to survive despite getting beaten several times by Zaheer. Though Zaheer picked up three wickets, Pragyan Ojha was the best bowler of the day for India with incredibly tight figures of 31-12-39-0! Harbhajan Singh had a bad day while Ishant Sharma had to leave the park with a knee strain in the middle of his 8th over.