Saturday 1 November 2008

Dropped catches melt India's winning chances

B D Narayankar

Until last evening, it was an Indian win all the way when they put a mammoth total of 613 for 7 in their first innings. They were expected to rip apart the Aussies with frontline spin bowlers on a pitch which was turning and bouncing. But, sloppy fielding of the Indians poured water on the chances of pulling off a series win against the visitors.

The butter-fingered hosts dropped Michael Clarke three times. He was first spilled on 31 by Ishant Sharma who failed to bucket a simple catch at mid-on off leggie Amit Mishra. Late in the post-lunch session, Clarke was dropped twice in his 90s with VVS Laxman failing to latch on to a sitter off Virendra Sehwag and Mishra flooring another in the bowler's next over.

Clarke, capitalizing on the floored opportunities, scored an all-important 112, steering Australia out of the hole on the fourth day of the third Border-Gavaskar test series against India being played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on November 1.

Clarke, who scored 151 on his Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004, also shared a 73-run stand with all-rounder Shane Watson (36) to frustrate a tiring Indian bowling attack.

Clarke, 27, stroked six fours and a six for his eighth Test hundred and also shared a 106-run stand with Cameron White (44), leaving the tourists just 36 runs behind India's first innings total.

Sehwag, India's only triple-centurion, had something to cheer. He finished with career-best figures of 5-104 after sending down 40 overs on a wicket which started taking prodigious turn from day three, while Anil Kumble, who was criticized for his wicketless showing in Bangalore, had 3-112 against his name.

White hit five fours and a six off leg-spinner Anil Kumble in his cameo 95-ball effort.

India, who were sitting pretty until last evening to clinch the series at the Kotla, now have a huge task cut out to shore the game. They cannot sit on their first-innings laurels. The overnight batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, have to see off the morning session with caution.

The Aussies had something more to cheer about when they removed dangerous Sehwag (bold Brett Lee) and night-watchman Ishant Sharma (caught Ricky Ponting bold Stuart Clark) in India's second knock.

With two wickets already down, the Australians would be fancying an outside chance with a flurry of wickets early tomorrow. However, their task too is difficult as the wicket has not deteriorated as much. With only a 36-run lead to cheer about, repeating Mohali fireworks does not look like a possibility. As of now, the test is heading towards an anti-climax end.


India II Innings

India 43-2 (13) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
G Gambhir not out 21 44 2 0 47.73
V Sehwag b Lee 16 17 2 0 94.12
Ishant Sharma c Ponting b Clark 1 2 0 0 50.00
R Dravid not out 5 15 1 0 33.33
VVS Laxman
S Ganguly
MS Dhoni
*Anil Kumble
Zaheer Khan
S Tendulkar
A Mishra
Extras: 0 ( b:0 lb:0 nb:0 w:0)
Total: 43-2 (13) | Curr. RR: 3.31

FOW: V Sehwag (29-1, 8.2), Ishant Sharma (34-2, 9.1)

Australia O M R W Nb Wd RPO
B Lee 6 1 19 1 0 0 3.17
S Clark 5 2 16 1 0 0 3.20
M Clarke 1 0 3 0 0 0 3.00
S Katich 1 0 5 0 0 0 5.00

Australia I Innings

Australia 577-10 (179.3) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
M Hayden lbw b Sehwag 83 154 13 1 53.90
S Katich b Mishra 64 116 9 0 55.17
*R Ponting b Sehwag 87 165 13 0 52.73
M Hussey b Sehwag 53 146 7 0 36.30
M Clarke c Khan b Mishra 112 253 6 1 44.27
S Watson b Sehwag 36 62 7 0 58.06
B Haddin st Dhoni b Kumble 17 35 1 1 48.57
C White b Sehwag 44 95 6 1 46.32
B Lee lbw b Kumble 8 47 0 0 17.02
M Johnson c and b Kumble 15 12 2 0 125.00
S Clark not out 1 2 0 0 50.00
Extras: 57 ( b:28 lb:17 nb:10 w:2)
Total: 577-10 (179.3) | Curr. RR: 3.21

FOW: S Katich (123-1, 34.1), M Hayden (202-2, 57.2), *R Ponting (284-3, 85.4), M Hussey (326-4, 102), S Watson (399-5, 122.1), B Haddin (426-6, 131.5), C White (532-7, 162.5), B Lee (555-8, 175.4), M Clarke (567-9, 178.1), M Johnson (577-10, 179.3)

India O M R W Nb Wd RPO
Zaheer Khan 23 5 86 0 2 0 3.74
Ishant Sharma 25 6 84 0 1 2 3.36
*Anil Kumble 43.3 10 112 3 1 1 2.57
A Mishra 47 12 144 2 3 1 3.06
V Sehwag 40 9 104 5 0 0 2.60
S Tendulkar 1 0 2 0 0 0 2.00

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