India win cliff hanger, lead Test series (Lead)October 5th, 2010 - 6:48 pm ICT by IANS
Mohali (Punjab), Oct 5 (IANS) India Tuesday pulled off a cliff-hanger against Australia in the first Test with the fortunes swinging tantalisingly till the last run was scored on the fifth and final day’s play at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here.
Chasing 216 for a win, V.V.S. ( ‘Very Very Special’) Laxman delivered once again, despite a nagging back problem. He scored an unbeaten 73 runs (8 fours) from 79 balls to see the team through the tense final moments of the match.
Laxman’s 81-run ninth-wicket partnership with tailender Ishant Sharma (31) turned the match in India’s favour.
This was Sharma’s highest score in Test cricket. He rose to the occasion when India needed him most.
In fact, Laxman and Sharma were on the injured list during the Test and took pain killer injections to bat Tuesday.
Laxman came in to bat at the number 10 position during the first innings but lasted only three balls for his two runs.
The stylish Hyderabadi batsman, who averages over 50 runs in second innings of Test matches and has done well against Australia in the past, had Suresh Raina as runner for his entire innings Tuesday.
Laxman remained calm through his innings, scoring breezily, and could be seen shouting to Pragyan Ojha and Raina to take runs when India got close to the target.
As both sides went through nail-biting moments Tuesday afternoon, India’s last batsman Pragyan Ojha got two leg-bye runs to take India to victory.
Tension reached a crescendo for both teams and hundreds of spectators at the stadium. Many more across the nation watching the drama on TV sets were also tense as India inched towards the target.
With the victory in Mohali, India go one-up in the two-Test series.
The second Test starts in Bangalore Saturday (Oct 9).
Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who as captain has still not won a Test match in India, said the match was the most exciting one he has played.
“This is one of the most exciting Test matches that I have ever played. We had our nose ahead. The partnership (between Laxman and Sharma) made the difference,” Ponting said after the match.
“We will make sure we come well prepared for the next match (at Bangalore),” he added.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni lauded the effort of Laxman.
“The way he batted, for me it was very special. He is a remarkable batsman. He can rotate the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking,” Dhoni said.
Australia, who had India on the back-foot Monday evening at 55 for four wickets, got four more Indian wickets in the first session of the play Tuesday, including that of Sachin Tendulkar (38). Sachin cut a Doug Bollinger delivery and Michael Hussey took a sharp catch.
Dhoni (2) was unluckily run out due to confusion with Laxman’s runner Suresh Raina.
Earlier, Zaheer Khan edged a Nathan Hauritz delivery to Michael Clarke in the slips. After Dhoni’s exit, Harbhajan Singh lasted only two deliveries.
Bollinger got two wickets while Hauritz got one Tuesday morning.
Zaheer Khan, who competed 250 Test wickets in the match, was adjudged man of the match for taking eight wickets, including five in the first innings.
Brief scores: Australia 428 and 192. India 405 and 216 for 9.
India won the match by one wicket.
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