India bounce back in Mohali Test after early lapses

By Jaideep Sarin,IANS,

Mohali (Punjab) : India missed opportunities and let Australia dominate the better part of the first day’s play before bouncing back in their first cricket Test at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium here Friday.

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Australia, who won the toss and opted to bat, were 224 for five wickets at close of play with opener Shane Watson scoring an unbeaten century.

Watson was batting on 101 runs, which included eight fours.

Watson led the fightback with skipper Ricky Ponting after the early dismissal of Simon Katich (six) who was was adjudged leg before to Zaheer Khan.

But India bounced back a bit with two wickets in the last session of play. Michael Hussey (17) fell leg-before to Zaheer who then cleaned up Marcus North for a duck, the in-dipper clipping the bail. The left-arm spearhead of the attack returned with three for 45.

The Australians, in fact, did not script their domination — it were India who let them off the hook.

At least four straight-forward catches were dropped, two of them by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, exposing India’s poor out-cricket.

Centurion Shane Watson survived a scare as he slashed at the second ball of the match from Zaheer Khan but Virender Sehwag dropped the catch at gully.

Watson and Australia had not yet opened their account but the dropped catch let the early opportunity slip out of India’s hands. Watson made India pay heavily for that lapse.

Then the Indians had the misfortune of seeing Ponting caught behind off an Ishant Sharma no-ball. Dhoni then dropped Watson off off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and the Indian skipper’s misery continued when he failed to pouch a regulation catch of wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine off Zaheer’s bowling.

After the few initial scares, Australia consolidated themselves and were comfortably placed at 101 for one at lunch.

Watson and Ponting steadied the innings after the early loss of Katich.

Ponting was run out for 71 runs by a direct throw at the stumps by fielder Suresh Raina.

As Ponting walked out, a remark by Zaheer led to a verbal spat between the two, forcing umpire Billy Bowden to intervene.

India, who went in with two pacemen and two spinners, did not get much help from the spinners on day one. Harbhajan got only one wicket while Pragyan Ojha went wicketless. Sehwag also bowled six overs.

Scoreboard: India vs. Australia, First Cricket Test, Day I

The following is the scoreboard at close of play on the first day of the first cricket Test match between India and Australia at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here Friday.

Australia 1st innings:

Shane Watson batting 101
Simon Katich lbw Khan 6
Ricky Ponting run out (Raina) 71
Michael Clarke c Dravid b Harbhajan 14
Mike Hussey lbw Khan 17
Marcus North b Khan 0
Tim Paine batting 1
Extras (lb 4, nb 10) 14
Total (for five wickets in 90 overs) 224
Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Katich, 4.2 overs), 2-154 (Ponting, 41.4), 3-172 (Clarke, 53.6), 4-218 (Hussey, 82.3), 5-222 (North, 84.3)

Zaheer Khan 16-4-45-3
Ishant Sharma 7.4-1-49-0
Pragyan Ojha 31-12-39-0
Harbhajan Singh 29-6-69-1
Virender Sehwag 6.2-0-18-0

Toss: Australia, who chose to bat
Umpires: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) and Ian Gould (England)
TV umpire: Sanjay Hazare
Match referee: Chris Broad (England)