India struggles on day five

November 2nd, 2008 - 2:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin TendulkarNew Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) Australia grabbed two important wickets in the pre-lunch session to leave India reeling at 99 for four at the luncheon break on the fifth and last day of the third cricket Test at Feroz Shah Kotla here Sunday.Sachin Tendulkar (24) and V.V.S Laxman (6) were countering Australia’s strategy of snatching an outside chance of winning the Test, taking the overall lead to 135 runs by the end of the first session.

After scoring a huge 613 for seven declared in the first innings, India might never have thought they would have to struggle to save the Test on the last day. But their shoddy work in the field over the last two days got them into a hole.

First, India allowed Australia to crawl back into the match with their sloppy catching and now they have messed it up with a defensive approach, losing Gautam Gambhir (36) and Rahul Dravid (11) in the first session.

After scoring 577 in their first innings, 36 short of India’s total, Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke said that “only one team (Australia) will go for win on the fifth day”. India seem to have taken his words too seriously.

After having lost two quick wickets late Saturday and resuming at 43 for two, India started a bit overcautious.

First innings double centurion Gautam Gambhir, and out-of form Rahul Dravid did not take any risks as Brett Lee and Stuart Clark bowled a tight line and tested them in between with short-pitched stuff.

The batsmen got into a shell, forgetting that runs were as important as time. The approach backfired as the Australian bowlers got on top with six of the first nine overs being maidens and only 16 runs coming during the period.

Dravid, who is going through the worst form in his career, became a Lee victim. A fast in swinging delivery kissed Dravid’s bat before crashing into stumps.

The man in form Tendulkar, who scored a free-flowing 68 in the first innings, took centre stage and immediately broke the shackles with a couple of fours. He square drove Lee and then took three runs with a gentle wristy flick.

Mitchell Johnson then trapped Gambhir, who was hardly convincing in his 107-ball and 170 minutes stay, though the replays cleared showed that umpire Aleem Dar erred in not seeing the ball clearly going down the legside.

Australia tried every tactics in their book to unnerve Indian batsmen and Johnson resorted to sledging at Laxman. The stylish Hyderabadi, who hardly gets involved in verbal spat, gave it back to the fast bowler.

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