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Jackson fans' tribute at Apollo

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aussies put through the hoops

Maninder Dabas
MOHALI, Oct. 18: Although his critics had been calling for his immediate removal and India's selectors were no longer appreciative of his abilities, his knock of 102 runs on the second day of the second Test here today seemed to suggest Sourav Ganguly was going away a tad too early. And he let it be known, once the day's action had been gone through, that he wasn't reconsidering his retirement decision.
The brilliant innings, off 225 balls, and his 109 runs joint enterprise off 175 balls with standin skipper MS Dhoni (92 off 124 balls) led India to a formidable total of 469. Australia were 102 for four in 49.5 overs at stumps, with Michael Hussey (37 off 97 balls) required to fight a long and grim battle tomorrow to avoid the followon. Michael Clarke had appeared more confident than Hussey, but he fell to debut maker legspinner Amit Mishra's wrong'un on the day's last ball.
Hussey survived a few chances - including a tough caught-behind miss by Dhoni on 25 - but Australia could do with what he contributed primarily because the others weren't all that generous with their contributions. Australia's chase started badly when experienced opener Matthew Hayden played on to Zaheer Khan's third ball of the innings, just before the tea interval.
Matt Hayden's form slump continued and the visitors' problems worsened after the break when skipper Ricky Ponting (5), having survived a very confident lbw appeal, fell in the same manner later in Ishant Sharma's over. Opener Simon Katich's resistance dragged on till 33 but Australia fell to 62 for three when he pushed a defensive shot into the pitch and it rolled off his leg and on to the stumps.
The wicket was the first for Mishra, who finished with two for 21. “Mishra's done very well, but it's just the beginning,” Ganguly said, with the air of someone who's known and done it all. “It's about doing it day in, day out, like Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh have done, but it's a good start. He's definitely put us in a situation where Australia are under pressure.” Australia legspinner Cameron White said the start of the third day would be crucial.
“The first session will shape the rest of the game,” White said. “The ball is reverse swinging and spinning, so it's going to be very tough.” Earlier, Ganguly raised both hands in the air and was a relieved man to hit a century: his inclusion had been questioned following a rather poor series against Sri Lanka.
India had resumed the second morning at 311 for five and were 326 for six when Dhoni arrived, pulling his first ball from Lee for four. Dhoni made 92 from 124 balls, inclusive of eight fours and four sixes.
Lee, though, had struck Dhoni in the shoulder when he turned his back to a bouncer early in his innings.
Lee received two stitches for a split webbing in his right hand after injuring himself in the first session, but returned to the field after lunch.
Opener Phil Jacques, afflicted with a back problem, is someone the visitors cannot count upon any more too. Earlier, Australia's preferred spinner Bryce McGain, reportedly injured, went home too.
At the Press conference, Australian allrounder Camroon White conceded his team were in in real trouble. "Yeah, we're in a little bit of trouble and will have to play well tomorrow to save the match."
Asked about the pitch, White said: "The pitch is playing well, it might yield some turn in the fourth innings." It's not very often that the world's top team look this vulnerable.
In Mumbai, Dilip Vengsarkar congratulated Ganguly on his feat.

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