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2nd Test: India v Australia at Calcutta, 11-15 Mar 2001
Anand Vasu

Australia 2nd innings: Lunch: Day 5, Tea - Day 5, End of match,
India 1st innings: Tea - Day 2, Stumps: Day 2,
Australia 1st innings: Lunch: Day 1, Tea: Day 1, Stumps: Day 1, Lunch Day 2, End of innings,
Pre-game: Toss and Teams,
India 2nd innings: Lunch: Day 3, Tea - Day 3, Stumps: Day 3, Lunch - Day 4, Tea - Day 4, Stumps: Day 4,


INSPIRED INDIA TRIUMPH, ENDING AUSTRALIA'S WINNING STREAK

If you are coming to Eden Gardens to watch cricket make sure you are firmly ensconced in your seat after tea. That is when all the action happens. On the final day, like the first and second days, seven wickets fell, as India dethroned the champions of world cricket. Harbhajan Singh (6/73) and Sachin Tendulkar (3/31) knocked the stuffing out of the visiting side. All out for 212, Australia's 16 match winning streak came to an end in a 171 run loss. The three match series is now level with one game to play at Chennai.

A break of play often does a lot for one side. In this case it was India, who came out inspired. The safest batsman in the world in these kind of situations, Steve Waugh, fell shortly after tea. Let off by Ganguly just before the tea interval, Steve Waugh repeated his mistake, turning the ball around the corner. The second time around however, the man at leg slip was the agile Hemang Badani. Moving to his natural side, the left, Badani snapped a smart catch, sending the Australian captain on his way. Steve Waugh's 24 helped boost Australian hopes, but did not do enough for the team total.

After Steve Waugh was dismissed, there was a distinct spring in the steps of the Indian fielders. They sensed that they were close to victory. Similarly, every Australian batsman who walked in and out, and there were a few, seemed cowed down. Steve Waugh was dismissed with the score on 166, and Ricky Ponting followed on the same score. Attempting to sweep Harbhajan Singh, all Ponting could manage was a bat-pad catch to Shiv Sunder Das at forward short leg. Ponting did not trouble the scorers.

Just one run later Adam Gilchrist bagged a king pair, being dismissed for duck off the first ball of each innings. Playing all over a leg break from Sachin Tendulkar, Gilchrist looked up in dismay as the umpire's finger went up. One left hander accounted for, it was time to get rid of the stubborn Matthew Hayden. Once again Tendulkar produced a beauty, dipping on the left hander. Struck on the full, Hayden was on his way after making a valiant 67 (199 mins, 119 balls, 6 fours).

Hold your horses. Tendulkar was not done yet. Bowling a perfectly pitched googly to Shane Warne, the master batsman had the ace leg spinner pulling and missing. The ball struck the back pad and Australia were in deep trouble at 174/8. After tea, the Australians had lost five wickets in the space of 32 balls, adding just eight runs.

Having done his job admirably for his captain and team, Tendulkar was taken off after bowling a crucial spell of 7-2-16-3.

After Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz defied the Indian spinners for a period, the inevitable happened. Going after a ball from Harbhajan Singh that drifted well into his pads, Gillespie flicked the ball straight to Das at forward short leg. Taking a good sharp catch, Das took India one wicket closer to a memorable victory. With that wicket, Harbhajan Singh became the twentieth Indian bowler to claim more than ten wickets in a match. Glenn McGrath walked out to bat with the score on 199/9. Appropriately, it was Harbhajan Singh who claimed the last wicket, when Glenn McGrath shouldered arms to an off spinner. The ball appeared to be slipping down the leg side, but that is for you and me to talk about. Umpire SK Bansal thought it was out and the crowds went wild.

In minutes the whole of the Eden Gardens was on fire. Every banner, placard and piece of paper was on fire. The atmosphere at the bull ring was now complete. The home side had come from behind and pulled off a sensational victory. As the makeshift torches burnt, the teams congratulated each other and walked off the field.



MATCH INTERESTINGLY POISED AT TEA ON THE FINAL DAY

The session between lunch and tea saw the Eden Gardens come alive in a way that is characteristic of the place. Resuming on 24/0 after lunch, the Australians began by picking runs with consummate ease. Slater and Hayden played the ball into the gaps with aplomb, driving down the wicket whenever the ball was pitched up. Just when it looked like the bowling was pedestrian and that the pitch held no evils, Harbhajan Singh got a ball to spit and bounce. Playing a premature prod at the ball, Slater (43 runs, 94 mins, 78 balls, 7 fours) inside edged a ball to Sourav Ganguly at leg slip. One down for 74 after 23.2 overs. India had managed to gain the smallest of entries into the Australian batting fortress.

Justin Langer, known more for his dour resistance in situations like these came out all guns blazing. Having a go at left arm spinner Venkatapathi Raju, the southpaw struck consecutive sixes off the last two balls of the 27th over. Coming down the track, Langer sent the first one over midwicket, preferring to go straighter and further over long on with the second shot. Two balls later, a false stroke sent Langer back to the pavilion. Attempting to sweep Harbhajan Singh, Langer closed the face of the bat a shade too early. The ball went off the top edge straight to Sadagoppan Ramesh at short fine leg. Langer's 21 ball blitz yielded 28 runs, including two boundaries and as many sixes.

To make things a bit harder for the home side, Nayan Mongia lost sight of a ball that bounced and turned from Harbhajan Singh. Hit on the face, the Baroda stumper left the field while Rahul Dravid donned the gloves behind the stumps.

Mark Waugh, who said earlier in an interview that it was his dream to make a double hundred in India, once again found the heat too much to handle. Playing back to an arm ball from Venkatapathi Raju, the New South Wales batsman was trapped plumb in front. Despite facing 10 balls and spending 15 minutes at the wicket, Mark Waugh failed to get off the mark.

At a situation of another mini crisis, with the whole of the Eden Gardens crowd going "ooh!" and "aah!" at the end of every ball, Steve Waugh walked out to the middle to join a well set Matthew Hayden. Steve Waugh too showed he was human, misjudging the bounce of a Harbhajan Singh offspinner. Trapped neither forward nor back, Steve Waugh glided the ball in the direction of leg slip. Although Ganguly got his hands to the low chance, the Indian skipper lost his balance and let the ball pop out. Letting Steve Waugh off the hook is never a wise thing. After all, letting off Steve Waugh cost Herschelle Gibbs and South Africa the 1999 World Cup.

At tea, Steve Waugh (batting 23) was his belligerent self and still at the wicket. Matthew Hayden who had quietly helped himself to a half century was motoring along on 59. Australia were 161/3 and doing all they could to move to a position of safety. Twice before in this match - on the first and second days, seven wickets fell after tea. That fact alone made sure that India still had their hopes high.



INDIA PUT UP IMPOSING TARGET

After challenging the rampaging Australians with a stiff total on the final day, 384 of a minimum 75 overs, Sourav Ganguly threw down the gauntlet. The Australians in turn did not want to take any undue risks, as is only fair. At lunch, Michael Slater (batting 14) and Matthew Haydem (batting 10) took Australia to 24 for no loss. Zaheer Khan, angling the ball away from the right hander bowled a nagging line and length. Harbhajan Singh coming in first change got a fair bit of bite off the wicket, troubling the batsmen without success.Hayden survived a close shout for caught behind just before lunch when a Zaheer Khan slower ball squeezed through the gap between bat and pad. Television replays showed that the ball appeared to go off the inside edge.

Beginning at 589/4 on the fifth and final day, India put together an overwhelming 657/7 declared. VVS Laxman, looking for that elusive triple hundred perished early in the morning, slashing hard at a short and wide ball from Glenn McGrath just to be caught by Ricky Ponting in the gully region. Laxman's 281 came in over 10 and a half hours. When the Hyderabadi was dismissed, the roar that went up showed how much his innings meant to the crowd at the Eden Gardens. If this were the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad, the cheers wouldn't have been louder and the ovation more heartfelt. Unfortunately for Laxman, he did not add to his tally of boundaries. When the 5th wicket partnership finally broke, the Dravid-Laxman pair had added a mammoth 376.

The loss of Laxman combined with the urgency to score quickly and declare the innings prompted a few strokes of indiscretion. At that point however, it made no difference with India having notched up a huge lead. Nayan Mongia (4) was bowled through the gate by McGrath and Rahul Dravid soon fell. Running blindly when Zaheer Khan tapped a ball to Steve Waugh at covers, Dravid found himself stuck midpitch. A sensible throw to the bowler found Dravid short of his crease. By then Dravid had made a magnificent 180 (444 mins, 353 balls, 21 fours).

Zaheer Khan (23 not out) and Harbhajan Singh (8 not out) combined the long handle and some supremely unorthodox strokes to good effect. Exactly one hour after play resumed on the fourth day, Sourav Ganguly called his men back in. India declared on 657/7, equalling the second highest ever second innings total in Test cricket. The highest, 671/4 declared, made by the Kiwis at home against the touring Lankans was a bit too far away to go for. The other time the same score was made, was by Pakistan against the West Indies at Bridgetown in 1957-58, albeit for the loss of one more wicket.

But these records are of little more than academic interest. What is the crux is that Australia are chasing 384 for victory off a possible 75 overs. For the Australians, the declaration brought to an end two of the tougher days in office they have had in recent times. Shane Warne went for 152 runs, Michael Kasprowicz for 139, Jason Gillespie for 115 and the usually stingy Glenn McGrath for 103 runs. It's not often you see the frontline Australian bowlers all taken for over 100 runs.



NO STOPPING THE LAXMAN-DRAVID JUGGERNAUT

VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid are still hungry for more runs. They have literally demoralized the Aussie bowling attack, which has failed to pick up a wicket in a whole day. India was 589/4 at close of play on day four. In the post tea session, 98 runs were scored in 32 overs. Laxman is unbeaten on 275 and Dravid on 155 as they pulverized the Aussie attack into total submission.

Soon after tea, Laxman got past Sunil Gavaskar's score of 236, the highest individual score by an Indian batsmen in Test match cricket. A crisply driven boundary of Hayden took him to 235. All it took was two more singles to make it to 237 and to make sure that he has the highest individual score against his name. Not a mean achievement for a man who has been on an eternal trial. Laxman got to his 250 off 392 balls with 41 fours.

Rahul Dravid, who was a doubtful candidate for this Test match because he was suffering with a fever, played sensibly as he does more often than not. He reached his 150 off 303 balls with the help of 18 boundaries. Dravid was hit in the box earlier, and struggled with severe cramps which restricted him from going for the quick singles and twos.

Laxman's unbeaten 275 surpassed so many records on its way; he still looks good for many more runs in this knock. He has so far faced 438 deliveries and has struck 44 boundaries. The two batsmen have so far added 357 runs in 98.2 overs for the fifth wicket. Steve Waugh used nine bowlers today to break the juggernaut. Steve Waugh and his deputy Adam Glichrist are the only players who haven't had a bowl today. It has been a most gratifying day for Indian cricket and one that the Aussies will not want to remember.



LAXMAN AND DRAVID DOMINATE THE INVINCIBLE AUSTRALIANS

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid have been proving the same at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. The post lunch session produced 114 runs and India had moved to 491/4 at tea. VVS Laxman who cracked the first ball after the luncheon break from Glenn McGrath through the covers for a four, soon raced to his first double hundred in Test match cricket with a cover drive off Mark Waugh that crashed into the cover fence.

Laxmanís double hundred, which would go into history as one of the very best made by an Indian batsman, came in 304 balls with 35 sweetly timed strokes past the ropes. He played some breathtaking strokes; an inside-out cover drive off Shane Warne has easily been the stroke of the afternoon session. Steve Waugh was the first player to congratulate Laxman when he got to his double hundred, a remarkable gesture from the great champion himself.

At tea, Laxman is unbeaten on 227, helping himself to 39 boundaries. In the process, Laxman went past the previous highest score by an Indian against the Australians, held by Ravi Shastri (206). He has also equaled Vinod Kambliís highest individual score of 227, which is second only to the highest score made by an Indian, Sunil Gavaskarís 236. All eyes will be on Laxman to see him getting past the great Gavaskarís record.

In the meanwhile, Rahul Dravidís efforts almost went unnoticed. He kept accumulating runs with so much of ease. Dravid was lucky to escape from being run out, when a Matthew Hayden throw from backward of point missed the stumps by a whisker. Dravid duly went on to complete his first century against the Aussies in big style, stepping down the wicket to Warne and flicking the ball through mid-wicket for a four. His hundred came in 205 balls and was laced with a dozen boundaries.

The two batsmen have so far added 259 runs for the unfinished fifth wicket partnership. They have bettered Indiaís previous best of 214 for the fifth wicket in Test cricket put together by RJ Shastri and Mohd Azharuddin against England. If the Aussies are the world champions of Test match cricket, Laxmanís effort has been masterly, considering the stature of the opponents. This has clearly been the best of resistance against the Aussies in their last 17 Test matches. The fact that Steve Waugh used eight bowlers, bears testimony to the Indian domination. It ainít over yet, there is so much more left in this match at the Eden Gardens.



LAXMAN CONTINUES TO DOMINATE AS INDIA POST LEAD

Days before the second Test between India and Australia began at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, there were cheeky whispers that Mohammed Azharuddin should be given another go at Test cricket. If you were watching the action without looking at the scoreboard you might have thought that actually transpired. VVS Laxman, from the same state as Azhar, has turned the match on its head with an inspired display of batting that fetched him an unbeaten 171 at lunch on the fourth day. In the company of the superlative Laxman, Dravid too found his touch, helping himself to a half century while surviving the passage of play. From being 20 behind the Australian score at the start of play, India ended up being ahead by 102, thanks to the attacking cricket Laxman played. India were 376/4 and need more of the same magic from Laxman.

There are times of crisis when help comes from the least expected quarters. With Sachin Tendulkar failing and Sourav Ganguly departing early India needed someone to put his hand up and wrest the initiative. Laxman has done that in fine style. Starting the day off on a careful note, adding just 5 runs in 29 balls, Laxman took his time to once again get his eye in but he certainly did not leave his form of yesterday behind. Playing all the shots in the book, Laxman showed Dravid and indeed the rest of the Indian team how to take the attack to the Australians.

The dramatic change in fortunes was there for all to see. The Eden Gardens was once again filling out nicely. The heaving mass of spectators chanting the name "Laxman!" took its toll on the Australians. Even a team as professional as Steve Waugh's could not keep the crowd out of their minds. Shane Warne, frustrated by Laxman's exquisite footwork and timing, could not decide what length to bowl to the Hyderabadi stylist. Bowling short was out of the question as the pull shot threatened to tear out the hands of the fielder at midwicket. If the ball was up for the drive, the supple wrists would come into play. When that happened, combined with a nimble waltz down the wicket, the ball seared across the turf to the boundary. Warne's shoulders visibly dropped and the champion leg spinner resorted to sending down a few quick bouncers. Mixing it up is all very well. When the batsman forces the hand of the opposing captain however, you know who is in control.

At the Eden Gardens there is no doubt on that count. VVS Laxman (171 not out, 262 balls, 31 fours) is the conductor of this orchestra. A few more swishes of his baton and the whole of Eden Gardens will be on its feet.



LAXMAN ALL THE WAY AS INDIA ATTEMPT FIGHTBACK

On the third day of the second Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata VVS Laxman reversed a trend that had set in with both teams early on. On the first day Australia lost seven wickets after tea, on the second day India returned the favour. Posting a superb unbeaten 109 (183 balls, 19 fours) Laxman took India to 254/4 in 70 overs. This left India 20 runs behind the Aussies.

But it was not about trailing or leading. It was a matter of pride. India had taken such a hammering in the first innings and few believed that they would be able to bounce back in the manner they did. When three quick wickets were lost it looked like the same old story once more. The difference was that Laxman was already set at that point. All the Indian captain had to do was play singles and get off the strike. To his credit Sourav Ganguly did that efficiently.

For Laxman there was no question of quietly stroking singles. Getting so comfortable against Shane Warne, Laxman would dance down the wicket at will and play smart on drives. Using his wrists, the Hyderabadi stylist would send the ball anywhere between mid on and square leg. Of all his 19 boundaries, the five that took him from 43 to 63 in the spell of just two overs was an example of how well Laxman was set. After taking 14 runs off a Kasprowicz over, including a pull, a flick and a coverdrive, Laxman proceeded to score 11 of the next over - delivered by Warne. This was a period that saw the tables turned. An Indian batsmen was forcing Steve Waugh to change the field around.

Sourav Ganguly for his part managed to get well set and played a few characteristic drives through the off side. When Glenn McGrath had a few words with the Indian captain and then went around the wicket to him the situation got the better of the Indian captain. Playing inside the line to a ball that was angled into the southpaw, Ganguly nicked one to the keeper and his innings of 48 had come to an end.

The finest moment for VVS Laxman came, ironically, in the company of the man he replaced at the number three slot. Rahul Dravid could only watch and applaud as Laxman turned a ball from McGrath around the corner to reach his second Test century. The first also coming in dire circumstances - against Australia at Sydney where Laxman made 167.

Even at 109 not out (246 balls, 19 fours) Laxman's work has just begun. If he wants to take India out of the woods, Laxman will have to do better than his previous best of 167. To do so, he will have Rahul Dravid (7 not out) for company on the third day.



AUSTRALIA PEG AWAY AT INDIA AS LAXMAN HOLDS FORT

There are days when one ball can knock the stuffing out of a team. While VVS Laxman ensured that is wasn't that simple for the Australians on the third day, the crowds gathered at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata certainly began to leave as soon as Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed. Strangely enough, the behaviour and size of the crowd at the Eden Gardens is a great barometer of the proceedings. Earlier in the day, there was joy in the stands as Sadagoppan Ramesh played a few strokes in the company of Shiv Sunder Das. However, when Ramesh (30) was foxed by a clever piece of leg spin bowling, only to be caught brilliantly by Mark Waugh at slip, the attention shifted to the number three batsman.

Instead of the dour Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly sent the in-form VVS Laxman out to the middle. Having gotten his eye in earlier in the day, Laxman walked out confidently. His gait was fair indication of the kind of form he was in. As expected, Laxman used his feet exceptionally well against Warne. Coming down the wicket repeatedly, Laxman closed the face of the bat well on the ball pitched in the rough and flicked through the midwicket region. When the mediumpacers gave him a bit of room outside the off, Laxman was onto the drive in a flash, standing tall and punching the ball imperiously through the off side.

The Australians however, are the kind of team that doesn't miss a trick. Employing effective fields, the Australian captain cut out the run flow completely. Fortunately for India Das and Laxman continued unfazed. Until a freak dismissal got rid of Das. Pushed onto the back foot by some quick short pitched stuff from Jason Gillespie, Das trod on his wicket and dislodged a bail. Batting well for his 39, Das was the top scorer of the innings till that point.

Sachin Tendulkar, who made 10 in the first innings could only match the feat as he flashed hard at a ball outside the off stump to be caught behind off the bowling of Jason Gillespie.

Sourav Ganguly replaced the Indian captain with the score on 115/3 and began with a bang, driving the ball through point for a boundary. Bogged down a bit after that, Ganguly was still on four 12 balls later when tea was taken. Laxman with 31 to his name was holding fort at one end. At 122/3 India still trailed by 152 runs.



LAXMAN DAZZLES EVEN AS AUSTRALIA ENFORCE FOLLOW ON

A dazzling array of attacking cricket strokes from VVS Laxman helped restore some very bruised pride at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Although there was never any doubt that India would fall short of the follow on mark, Laxman gave the Australians a few things to worry about. Shielding tailenders Venkatapathi Raju and Venkatesh Prasad, Laxman moved from his overnight score of 26 with the best strokeplay by an Indian in the match thus far.

Using his feet well against Warne, Laxman danced down the track and heaved the ball back over the bowler's head on more than one occasion. But that was not all. A pull against Jason Gillespie sped to the square leg fence, an off drive against Michael Kasprowicz rocketed to the long off fence and Laxman was on fire.

Saving the best for the key moment, Laxman struck an exquisite coverdrive to bring up a fifty that included 10 boundaries. Shortly after making his half century however, an unfortunate bit of umpiring sent Laxman on his way. Sweeping at a ball from Shane Warne that was pitched well outside the leg stump, Laxman watched in dismay as the ball ballooned off his forearm to first slip. Umpire Peter Willey upheld the loud shout and that was that. India had managed to limp to 171 all out in response to Australia's 445. VVS Laxman with 59 (122 mins, 83 balls, 12X4) was the only batsman to defy the Aussies.

Still 274 behind, India were asked to follow on by Steve Waugh. Making up for his first innings duck, a nervous Sadagoppan Ramesh got off the mark in a hurry and sped to 30 off just 33 balls when lunch was called. Shiv Sunder Das, careful as ever had 14 to his name and India were a steady if not spectacular 45/0 at lunch on the third day.

It is a day of much optimism here at the Eden Gardens. There are still a large number of people who believe that India can put together a solid batting performance and draw this game. Well, so far it has never been the morning session that is a problem. What happens after tea today will have a strong bearing on this match, and indeed the series.



INDIA COLLAPSE AGAIN AS AUSTRALIA MOVE IN FOR THE KILL

The session between tea and stumps on the second day was a nightmare for the home side. Australia rung the death bell loud and clear at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. India were well on their way to being asked to follow on at 128/8 at stumps on the second day of the second Test. Things really could not have been worse for India. When they come out to bat tomorrow, barring a major miracle, Sourav Ganguly's cup of misery will surely overflow.

Getting rid of the Indian top order with clinical precision, Steve Waugh highly increased the odds of this match finishing in double quick time. After getting rid of Ramesh before tea, Steve Waugh backed Glenn McGrath to do the damage in the post tea session. Striking a double blow quickly after tea, McGrath removed SS Das (20) to start with. A quick delivery sliced the Orissa opener in two, the inside edge flying down the leg side. Adam Gilchrist diving quickly snapped up the catch.

The fall of Das' wicket brought Sachin Tendulkar to the crease. As is so often the case, India's hopes rested fairly and squarely on Tendulkar's broad shoulders. A battle was soon on between Tendulkar and Shane Warne. With the leg spinner aiming to land the ball in the rough created by the fast bowlers' footmarks, Tendulkar was forced to be circumspect. The one time Warne dropped the ball short it was pulled away viciously to the midwicket fence.

Just when it looked like Tendulkar might be getting on top of Warne, McGrath got rid of the little master. Reversing the ball well even early in the innings, McGrath bowled a peach of a late inswinger to Tendulkar. Attempting to work the ball away to the onside, Tendulkar played down the wrong line and was trapped plumb in front. With the score on 48 India had lost their third wicket. With Tendulkar (10) gone, the exodus started at the Eden Gardens. Disappointed fans began emptying out of the stands that had been packed till then.

The optimistic few who stayed back at the Eden Gardens ended up wishing they left earlier.

In quick succession, the Indians started their own procession - in and out of the middle. Rahul Dravid played all over a drifter from Warne and lost his leg stump. The Karnataka middle order bat managed just 25 in an innings that was prolonged agony.

Sourav Ganguly, the next big hope, playing in his back yard, appeared to be positive early on. Playing some delectable drives through the off side against Shane Warne Ganguly showed good intent. Unfortunately, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. When Ganguly (23) chased after a wide and full offcutter from Michael Kasprowicz, the ball flew off the edge just wide of the gully. Steve Waugh diving to his left plucked the ball out of the air one handed and sent his counterpart on his way. At 88/5, needing 245 to avoid following on, India were neck deep in trouble.

Nayan Mongia could do little more than present Kasprowicz with his second wicket of the day, tickling a ball through to the keeper. Harbhajan Singh, hero with the ball in the first innings, didn't last long either, edging a quick ball from Gillespie to Ponting in the slips. Zaheer Khan was sorted out by a McGrath yorker and India were in stuffed.

VVS Laxman was joined out in the middle by Hyderabad teammate Venkatapathi Raju and the stylist came into his own. Although Laxman is known for his wristy strokeplay, it is ironical that he seems to cut loose only when India are well on their way to losing the game. Unbeaten on 26 that included six crisp hits to the fence, Laxman gave good account of himself in a situation where everyone else floundered.

In the last session of play, 35 overs were bowled, 96 runs scored and seven Indian wickets lost. That tells it's own story.



INDIA LOSE AN EARLY WICKET IN RESPONSE TO AUSSIE SCORE

The Indians let the Australians right out of jail when the visitors were batting. From 289/8 Australia mustered a healthy 445. Having done so, it was up to India to put together a solid start, as the Australians had done. On the first day, Matthew Hayden and Michael Slater saw off the first session, posting 88 runs without losing a wicket. On the second day, Steve Waugh and Jason Gillespie saw off the first session adding 92 runs. How does India respond? By losing their first wicket without getting a run on the board. Sadagoppan Ramesh criticised for the stroke that cost him his wicket in the first Test at Mumbai failed once more. Flirting with a ball outside the off stump, holding his bat limply in the air, Ramesh edged the 9th ball of the innings, bowled by Gillespie straight to Ricky Ponting at second slip.

0/1 and India were in trouble. Rahul Dravid who has been bogged down against the Australian bowlers in this series struck the first ball he faced through covers in sizzling fashion. After that start, Dravid showed a positive if guarded approach to batting. His partner Shiv Sunder Das on the other hand was in a spot of bother. Having been dismissed by Gillespie twice in the first Test Das seemed to be on edge against the quick bowler. Peppering the short opener from Orissa, Gillespie was successful in dominating the batsman. Das ducked under everything short, taking his eyes off the ball on more than one occasion. Hit in the ribs ducking low, Das quickly saw that the wicket was a bit two paced.

To Das' credit however, the young man was still unbeaten at tea on the second day. India were 32/1 as Dravid (9 not out) and Das (20 not out) took on the Australian bowlers.



STEVE WAUGH TON TAKES AUSTRALIA TO 445

Coming out from lunch Steve Waugh proved himself a worthy leader of a team that has won 16 Test matches on the trot. Mixing abundant caution with calculated risk taking, the Australian captain notched up his 25th Test century. Having never made a Test hundred in India, Steve Waugh was more emotional than normal as he tugged at the red handkerchief in his pocket, took off his helmet and raised his bat to a full house Kolkata crowd. In turn, the mass of swaying spectators too were forced to stand up and applaud a true champion. Moving from 93 to 99 with a crisp hit over midwicket for six, Waugh then worked the ball away to point to get to his century. In the process of getting to his hundred, Steve Waugh also passed another personal milestone, crossing Javed Miandad's tally of 8832 Test runs. Steve Waugh is now 4th in the all-time list behind Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar and Graham Gooch.

Shortly before Steve Waugh got to his hundred, he lost the company of Jason Gillespie, who presented Sadagoppan Ramesh at forward short leg with a simple catch. By then, the fast bowler had done enough damage, making 46 in over three hours at the crease. Apart from notching up his highest Test score, Gillespie shared a match changing 133 run ninth wicket partnership with Steve Waugh.

Glenn McGrath (21 not out) joined Steve Waugh out in the middle and he too looked like he wanted to hang around for a bit. When finally, Steve Waugh (110 runs, 203 balls, 11 fours, 1 six) was trapped leg before wicket by Harbhajan Singh the Australian innings had ended on a healthy 445 all out. Harbhajan Singh, easily the pick of the bowlers had secured returns of 7/123.



STEVE WAUGH TO THE RESCUE ONCE MORE AS AUSTRALIA WREST INITIATIVE

On the second day of the second Test between Australia and India at Kolkata the visiting captain showed clearly that there was no such thing as doing half the job against Australia. Either you knock them over completely or you pay the price. As Steve Waugh (82 not out) and Jason Gillespie (38 not out) put on an unbeaten partnership of 114 for the ninth wicket, India were slowly but surely paying the price. The partnership is a record for the ninth wicket against India, beating the 96 put together by Ian Healy and Gavin Robertson at Chennai in 1998. Record or not, it certainly put paid to India's plans of knocking the Aussies over quickly. At lunch on the second day Australia were 383/8 and looked good for more.

Resuming on 291/8 the Australians applied themselves perfectly. While India were content giving Steve Waugh singles and getting Gillespie on strike, the Australia were playing to a completely different strategy. Gillespie got a good stride in and negated shouts for leg before wicket against the spinners. When the mediumpacers were in operation Gillespie used a straight bat, blunting the pace of the wicket.

With India taking the second new ball early on, Ganguly looked to Zaheer Khan to produce the breakthrough. Although the Baroda mediumpacer bowled with good pace and fire, he as unlucky to the extent that he never found the edge of the bat. Although the ball beat the bat on many occasions and either sailed through to the keeper or struck the batsman on the body, there was never a serious chance.

However when Venkatesh Prasad got a perfectly pitched leg cutter just outside the off stump and Gillespie duly nicked the ball through to Mongia behind the stumps, the Indians went up in unison. Television replays showed that the ball appeared to come off the edge as a big deviation was visible. Umpire SK Bansal however decided that the ball did not come off the bat. And that was that. Jason Gillespie was there to stay.

Steve Waugh, on 20 when Gillespie came to the crease yesterday steadily and quietly notched up his highest ever score at Eden Gardens. There was no sense of desperation on the part of the Australian captain. Often, mainline batsmen playing with the tail go for huge strokes, attempting to make as many runs while his partner was still around. Steve Waugh, adopting a totally different attitude gave Gillespie all the confidence in the world. That was exactly what the fast bowler needed.

In a repeat of yesterday, where no wicket fell till lunch, Ganguly threw the ball to Sachin Tendulkar for the last over before lunch. Once again, there was no magic - just Australian efficiency all the way.



HARBHAJAN MAKES HISTORY AS INDIA FIGHT BACK IN FINAL SESSION

Harbhajan Singh made history at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata in the last session of the first day's play. Bowling his 16th over of the day, the Punjab offspinner claimed a hat trick with the second, third and fourth balls he bowled. After trapping Ricky Ponting plumb in front with a straight ball, Harbhajan Singh got Adam Gilchrist out first ball with one that kept low and struck the pad. Shane Warne coming in to face the hat trick ball clipped one from leg stump to the on side where Sadagoppan Ramesh snapped up a smart catch. The matter was referred to the third umpire, Sameer Bandekar, who pushed the button on the red light and heralded India's first ever Test hat trick.

At 252/7 Australia were neck deep in trouble. Of the three dismissals, the one that sent the dangerous Adam Gilchrist back to the pavilion was the only one that gave room for any doubt. The ball that got the Aussie stumper appeared to come off the inside edge.

Earlier, it was Harbhajan Singh who started the rot, removing an in-form Matthew Hayden. Pulling hard at a ball well outside the off stump, Hayden holed out to substitute fielder Hemang Badani at midwicket. Hayden had played a valuable knock, falling just three runs short of what would have been a memorable century. Hayden spent just over four hours at the crease, and scored boundaries. In addition, Hayden managed to loft Harbhajan Singh well over the ropes on three occasions.

In all the glory heaped on Harbhajan Singh one cannot forget the effort of Baroda left arm seamer Zaheer Khan. Despite having two catches dropped off his bowling, the young man toiled manfully. Without letting his shoulders drop Zaheer Khan kept going at the Aussies. When Justin Langer (58) straddling the crease edged on to keeper Mongia there was a look of relief on Zaheer Khan's face. From being 193/1 the Australians were suddenly in very deep trouble. Used to dishing out the stuff, Australia had to stomach a healthy dose of their own medicine.

Mark Waugh (22) looked in ominously good touch, playing the ball off his pads with the elegance of an Olympic gymnast fell, dug his own grave by cutting hard at a ball close to is body. Mongia snapped up the catch and Harbhajan Singh had his second wicket of the day. Little did the 21 year old off spinner know at that time, that he was going to do something special. So special that even offspinners of the calibre of Ghulam Ahmed and Erappalli Prasanna fell short.

The Indian captain made things worse for the home side by trapping Micheal Kasprowicz plumb in front in the 79th over of the day. With the Australians on 269/8 India were well and truly in the driver's seat,

Steve Waugh attempting to piece together an innings with the tail was unbeaten on 29 as Australia reached 291/8 at stumps. Jason Gillespie with 6 to his name kept the Australian captain company.

Harbhajan Singh, with returns of 5/66 was easily the player of the day.



AUSTRALIA FIRMLY ENSCONCED AT TEA ON THE FIRST DAY

Shortly after a sumptuous lunch Australia suffered their first setback of the day. Michael Slater (42 runs, 132 mins, 99 balls, 7 fours, 1 six) added just one run to his lunch score when he was declared out caught behind against left arm seamer Zaheer Khan. In the midst of a good spell, Zaheer Khan got a quicker one to go right through Slater. Slater prodded tentatively at the ball, which zipped through between bat and pad in a hurry. A loud shout for caught behind from the bowler and Nayan Mongia behind the stumps was upheld and Australia were 103/1.

Justin Langer, replacing Slater out in the middle was tentative to start. Although Langer has had a few low scores to his name coming in to this match, the southpaw has always enjoyed the confidence of the captain. Putting his head down, Langer patiently played out Zaheer Khan. At the other end, Hayden was not content to follow the example set by Langer. Flashing hard at an express delivery from Zaheer Khan, Hayden edged the ball straight Rahul Dravid at first slip. That was in the 35th over of the day, when Hayden had 67 to his name. Dravid however was caught napping after lunch. Getting his hands to the ball late, the Karnataka middle order batsman grassed the catch - giving Hayden a reprieve. With the score on 120/1 the last thing India needed was to give Australia an easy rise.

Winning this Test match to retain even the most remote chance of coming out on top in the series is not going to be possible if India play this kind of uninspired cricket. At tea, Australia were heading towards a mammoth total. Hayden 97 not out (240m, 153b, 14X4, 3X6) with 3 huge sixes and Langer (45 not out) took the Australians on to 193/1. The Indian spinners for this game - Venkatapathi Raju and Harbhajan Singh failed to put any pressure on the batsmen. In his defense, it must be said, Raju at least kept one end reasonably quiet. Harbhajan Singh on the other hand was totally ineffective, and went for 37 runs off his 6 overs. Hayden was particularly severe on the offspinner, coming down the wicket and swinging him over the long on fence with ease.

The desperation of the Indians was clear. Appealing for every half chance, the Indians tried to create something out of nothing. In a last throw of the dice, Ganguly invited Sachin Tendulkar to have a bowl shortly after tea. Even the man with the 'golden arm' could not make a dent. 105 runs were scored in the session between lunch and tea for the loss of just one wicket.



AUSTRALIA OPEN SECOND TEST ON STRONG NOTE

Already down 0-1 in the three Test series, India found themselves in more trouble against the all conquering Aussies. At lunch on the first day, Australia after winning the toss and electing to bat first were unscathed at 88/0. Weeks before the second Test between Australia and India at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, there were rumours about ticket sales being at an all time low. On the 11th of March the people of Kolkata proved that wrong, thronging to the Eden Gardens in large numbers. Apart from sections of the stands that were uncovered, most seats in the house were taken. Thirsty for an Indian fightback after the loss in the first Test in Mumbai, the crowds egged Sourav Ganguly on at every move. Whether it was a small change in the field placings or a bowling change, every move was ushered in by roar from the crowds.

If the idea was to disturb the concentration of the Australian openers - Matthew Hayden and Michael Slater, it did not work. Despite being nervous to start, Slater quickly found the Indian mediumpacers to his liking. The wicket was hard on the morning of the first day and the ball came on to the bat nicely. Unfortunately for the Indian skipper, all the good work done in patches by left arm speedster Zaheer Khan was undone by a steady supply of loose deliveries that were mercilessly punished. To be fair to the Indians, when they did err in length they tended to be full rather than short. While that is usually a lot better than giving the batsmen short stuff, it backfired against Slater.

Driving at everything that was full and on or outside the off stump, Slater chanced his arm repeatedly and got away with it. The ball beat the bat with regularity, but that only added to the Indians' frustration. When he had just 13 runs to his name Slater drove hard at a Ganguly delivery. The ball flew off the edge to Laxman at second slip and was comfortably pouched. Even as Laxman threw the ball in the air in jubilation, the umpire's hand went up - no ball! Ganguly threw his arms in the air, bemoaning his bad luck. The look on the captain's face told a story. Nothing was going India's way.

The Australians seized the opportunity with both hands, coasting to 88/0 at lunch on the first day. With the spinners - Venkatapathi Raju and Harbhajan Singh bowling just three overs between them before lunch, Slater and Hayden were allowed to settle into a good rhythm. Combining well, the pair blunted the Indian attack. Although neither dominated the bowling completely each managed to make it to 41 at lunch. Slater (93 balls, 7X4 1X6) and Hayden (68b, 8X4) made sure that they were still at the wicket - and indeed that the Indians had a lot to worry about, at lunch.



AUSTRALIA WINS TOSS AND ELECT TO BAT

The Australian skipper Steve Waugh won the toss and elected to bat on a clear morning at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday. India made three changes from the team that lost the first test at Mumbai. Zaheer Khan, Venkatapathy Raju and Venkatesh Prasad made their way into the team in place of Srinath, Agarkar and Sanghvi.

The Australians made only one change, Kasprowicz replacing Fleming.

The Teams:

Australia: MJ Slater, ML Hayden, ME Waugh, RT Ponting, SR Waugh (captain), AC Gilchrist (wicket kepper), JL Langer, MS Kasprowicz, SK Warne, JN Gillespie,GD McGrath.

India: SS Das, S Ramesh, R Dravid, SR Tendulkar, SC Ganguly (captain), VVS Laxman, NR Mongia (wicket kepper), Harbhajan Singh, SLV Raju, Z Khan, BKV Prasad.

© CricInfo


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