Ganguly, Mishra put Australia on back foot (Lead)

October 18th, 2008 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Mohali, Oct 18 (IANS) A century by Sourav Ganguly and crucial strikes from bowlers helped India to a comfortable position, leaving Australia struggling at 102 for four wickets in their first innings at the end of second day’s play in the second Test here Saturday.Ganguly scored a patient 102, his 16th Test ton, in his swansong series and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni played an attacking 92 to take India to a healthy 469 before the bowlers rocked Australian innings with repeated blows.

Trailing by 367 runs, Australia still require 167 to save the follow-on and some early breakthroughs Sunday could well see India take control of the match.

Zaheer Khan set the tempo by removing Matthew Hayden in the first over. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra then made a memorable Test debut by picking up two wickets, including that of Michael Clarke in the penultimate ball of the day, to put the visitors firmly on backfoot.

With Hayden, Katich (33), Ricky Ponting (5) and Clarke (23) back in the pavilion, Mike Hussey was batting on 37 at stumps.

Earlier, Ganguly (102) stroked his 16th Test century and Dhoni scored a blistering 92 off 124 balls in his typical old aggressive style, sending the ball soaring for four huge sixes.

Ganguly took his time and reached his second century against Australia.

Resuming at 311 for five, night watchman Ishant Sharma (9) spooned a catch to Katich at short leg off Peter Siddle and skipper Dhoni arrived at the crease, showing positive intent right from the start.

Ganguly took a backseat and rotated the strike as Dhoni took the Australian attack apart, hitting the bowlers all over the park.

Brett Lee and Peter Siddle tested Dhoni with short deliveries, bowling round the wicket aimed at his body but the India captain was unnerved. He took a few blows on the body but courageously played attacking cricket.

Dhoni pulled one such short delivery from Siddle out of the mid wicket fence to reach his 50 in just 63 balls.

Ganguly and Dhoni added 109 for the seventh wicket before the former got out immediately after scoring his century trying to accelerate the run rate.

Dhoni then launched a ferocious attack, hitting Siddle for another six while Cameron White took some pounding, including two biggies and a straight boundary that went past the bowler and umpire like a bullet.

But while shielding his partners, Dhoni ran out Zaheer Khan trying to steal a quick single before being declare lbw to debutant Siddle, who picked up three wickets.

India then struck early in the third ball of the first over with Zaheer rattling the stumps of Hayden for a duck, leaving Australia at 13 for one at tea. For the seventh time, Hayden proved to be Zaheer’s bunny. This was also the second time that Zaheer dismissed the left-hander in this series, having got him earlier for another duck in the first innings of the first Test in Bangalore.

The Indian pace attack utilised the conditions well with Zaheer and Ishant Sharma bolwing full steam - getting movement from the same wicket where the Australian pacers could not extract much.

Ishant kept up the pressure from the other side and once again kept Ponting on a tight leash. Ponting was repeatedly beaten by Ishant and finally the lanky pacer got his man when he trapped him leg before.

The post-tea session belonged to Mishra, who claimed his first Test wicket in Simon Katich, who played the delivery onto the stumps. Katich (33) was the only Australian who showed some resistance to the Indian bowlers.

Mishra gave air to the ball and troubled the batsmen with his flight and accuracy. He foxed Clarke to trap him leg before to finish the day on a high.

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