India veterans save the Bangalore Test against AustraliaOctober 13th, 2008 - 7:54 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, Oct 13 (IANS) The Australians as so often in the past, once again found
V.V.S. Laxman standing in the way between them and victory in the first cricket Test here Monday. Laxman helped India hold on for a draw after being set a 299 run for victory in 83 overs. India were 177 for four when play was called off.
Laxman (42 not out) was assisted in his “Salvage Mission” by Sachin Tendulkar (49), who came within 15 runs of besting Brian Lara’s Test aggregate of 11,953 runs, and Sourav Ganguly, who batted for over an hour for his unbeaten 26.
Laxman walked into the cauldron when the resilient Gautam Gambhir (29) was castled by left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson. The score card then read a bleak 77 for three, with Indians needing to play out 56 overs of the 83 they were given to chase a challenging 299 for an improbable win.
Having earned a “Doctorate in Crisis” from the University of Indian Cricket, he batted with the calm and composure he is associated with to arrest the robust Australian surge. Though the ball often squatted through and jumped from a spot, the 34-year-old barely batted an eye-lid, taming the Australian attack with percentage cricket. Despite the pressure, he was confidence-personified.
Australia’s task grew all the more stiffer as Tendulkar also dug his heels in to keep the rocking Indian ship afloat. The master batsman, unlike in his last nine innings when he had garnered a niggardly 121, was in his element, flicking and driving with panache. He had lasted 179 minutes in the middle before offering debutant Cameron White his maiden wicket in Test cricket, chip-driving the leggie to Michael Clarke at short covers.
Then it was left to Laxman and Ganguly, who endured two interruptions for bad light (as many as 61 minutes were lost due to it), to stave off the last Australian foray even as the sun began its descent over the western horizon.
Virender Sehwag (6) and Rahul Dravid (5) had perished early in the innings to put the innings in disarray before Gambhir and Tendulkar added 53 runs for the third wicket to set the stage for the Indian fightback.
Earlier in the morning, Australia declared their second innings at 228 for six to put themselves in position to go one up in the four-match series and record their third successive victory at Bangalore, having won in 1998 and 2004.
Resuming at their overnight 193 for five, Australia added 35 runs in five overs while losing Shane Watson (41) to Ishant Sharma to the eighth ball of an overcast day.
Brad Haddin, who was spilled by skipper Anil Kumble off his own bowling to the first ball of the day, remained unbeaten on 35. Cameron White made an unbeaten 18 off 14 deliveries.
Ishant Sharma was the most impressive of the Indian bowlers, finishing with figures of 3 for 40 to take his match tally to seven wickets.