India confirmed the sheer size of the task confronting Australia in
this second Test match and Border-Gavaskar series by reducing the
tourists to a wobbly 4-102 in pursuit of India’s 469 after day two in
On a surface still friendly to batting, Australia’s top order were confounded by the beguiling mix of pace, swing and spin they faced in 40.5 overs to stumps from Zaheer Khan (1-24), accomplished legspin debutant Amit Mishra (2-21), Ishant Sharma (1-28) and Harbhajan Singh.
Only playing because of a shoulder injury to captain Anil Kumble, Mishra struck the most serious blow with the final ball of the day, claiming Michael Clarke lbw on the front foot for 23 to a straight delivery that held its line from around the wicket.
Not-out batsman Mike Hussey (37) was fortunate that acting captain Mahendra Dhoni had failed to glove a difficult reflex chance on 25 from the bowling of Harbhajan (0-28).
Zaheer has talked a big game but he backed it up with classy spells of orthodox and reverse swing bowling, starting off by defeating Matthew Hayden for the third time in as many innings, bowled through the gate by an inducker.
Sharma again defeated touring captain Ricky Ponting, going desperately close to having him lbw before eliciting an affirmative verdict from Rudi Koertzen three balls later.
Mishra claimed Australia’s third wicket as his first in Tests, though Simon Katich (33) was somewhat unfortunate to squeeze the ball into the ground before the overspin took it back to leg stump.
Earlier, Indian veteran Sourav Ganguly (102) notched an emotional century and stand-in skipper Mahendra Dhoni (92) showed he would not be weighed down by the captaincy.
Australia’s day was complicated further by the news Brett Lee split the webbing in his right hand while trying to field a return from the deep, requiring two stitches.
Ganguly and Dhoni added 109 together before debutant Peter Siddle (3-114) and second-gamer Cameron White (2-71) combined to wrap up the tail.
Left-armer Mitchell Johnson (3-85) was the best of the Australian bowlers.
Dhoni was robbed of the chance to reach his own hundred when Koertzen harshly ruled him lbw to a Siddle yorker.
Resuming at 5-311, the wicket of nightwatchman Sharma brought Dhoni to the crease with plenty of work still to be done on what remained a dead flat pitch.
It was not long after lunch that Ganguly was saluting the crowd upon reaching his 16th Test hundred in his final series before retiring.
White lulled Ganguly into an attempted slog down the ground that was held by Brett Lee running back from mid off.
Harbhajan Singh was bowled between bat and pad by White, and though Dhoni made rapid ground towards three figures by cracking a series of sixes, he ultimately fell eight runs short, lbw to a Siddle yorker.