North makes a strong mark

Tendulkar crosses 14,000 Test runs; Australia post an intimidating 478

North makes a strong mark

Having spent two full sessions on the park, India were looking for someone to lift them out of their misery and Tendulkar stepped in to provide that much-needed spark. In pursuit of Australia’s daunting 478 all out, constructed mainly around Marcus North’s Test highest of 128 (335m, 240b, 17x4, 1x6), India finished the second day of the second Test at 128 for two, a score which looked difficult to achieve at one stage. India, 350 behind the visitors’ first-innings total, need another 151 runs to avoid the follow on.

Australia, overnight 285 for five, amassed a total in excess of 450 on the back of North’s ton and Tim Paine’s fortuitous half-century. After failing to make any breakthrough in the opening session, India struck through Harbhajan Singh (4/148) and Pragyan Ojha (3/120), who claimed four wickets between them, while Nathan Haurtiz was run out.
Tendulkar (44 batting, 88b, 6x4), meanwhile, reached 14,000 Test runs when he moved from 25 to 29, driving Hauritz to cover fence. Incredible as the achievement is, India should be more relieved that the little big man of Indian cricket was still holding the fort in the company of an impressive Murali Vijay (42 batting, 83b, 4x4, 1x6).

Virender Sehwag (30) whacked the Aussie bowlers all over the park, but his assault didn’t last long, holing out to Mitchell Johnson at the mid-wicket fence off Ben Hilfenhaus. Rahul Dravid walked into a boisterous welcome by his home crowd, but could spend only seven minutes and face as many balls. At 38 for two, it wasn’t a crisis, but there certainly was cause for concern.

However, Tendulkar stepped in to calm the nerves with Vijay contributing no less both in terms of runs accrued and the unflustered approach he exhibited. The duo had composed 90 runs in an undefeated association for the third-wicket when bad light once again forced the closure of play.  

Tendulkar appeared assured throughout his 98-minute presence. After biding his time, the right-hander opened up, essaying some delightful drives and cuts as the spectators found their voice. Vijay, too, played his part to a nicety. The stylish right-hander once again underlined the faith reposed in him. The youngster, however, understands that the job isn’t even half done.      

North, under pressure to perform, couldn’t have chosen a better platform to silence his detractors. North and Paine were the last recognised batsmen and they had to forge a big partnership to give Aussies a chance to level the series. The visitors weren’t to be disappointed as the right-left combination brought up an invaluable 149 runs for the sixth wicket, 99 of them coming before the lunch interval.

Paine (57, 133b, 8x4) was the first to go stumped off Ojha. Earlier, the right-hander, when on 40, had been caught by Dhoni while loosely slashing at a widish delivery from S Sreesanth. Umpire Ian Gould, however, thought it was a no-ball and went upstairs, where TV umpire Amish Saheba confirmed his doubt. Gould’s partner on the field, Billy Bowden had done the same thing in the Mohali Test to reprieve Michael Clarke.

North, overnight 43, was particularly severe against anything pitched on middle and leg by the pacemen, flicking and clipping off his pads with a panache that would have made any sub-continental player proud. He was equally at home facing the spin threat.
It was a forgettable day for the faster bowlers too; Zaheer Khan couldn’t get reverse swing going while Sreesanth failed to capitalise on the overcast conditions. Adding to their woes, both were warned for running on the no-trespassing area of the pitch on their follow-through. 

SCORE BOARD

AUSTRALIA (I Innings, O/n: 285/5):
Watson c Dhoni b Ojha    57
(149m, 88b, 9x4)
Katich c Dravid b Harbhajan    43
(124m, 95b, 7x4)
Ponting lbw Raina    77
(204m, 147b, 12x4)
Clarke c Raina b Harbhajan    14
(26m, 26b, 1x4)
Hussey c Sehwag b Zaheer    34
(71m, 45b, 4x4)
North c Sreesanth b Harbhajan    128
(335m, 240b, 17x4, 1x6)
Paine st Dhoni b Ojha    59
(181m, 133b, 8x4)
Johnson lbw Ojha    0
(6m, 7b)
Hauritz (run out)    17
(72m, 51b, 2x4)
Hilfenhaus (not out)    16
(21m, 17b, 2x4, 1x6)
George st Dhoni b Harbhajan    2
(12m, 6b)
Extras (B-9, LB-12, W-1, NB-9)    31
Total (all out, 141 overs)    478
Fall of wickets: 1-99 (Katich), 2-113 (Watson), 3-132 (Clarke), 4-198 (Hussey), 5-256 (Ponting), 6-405 (Paine), 7-415 (Johnson), 8-458 (North), 9-459 (Hauritz).
Bowling: Zaheer 23-5-84-1, Sreesanth 21-1-79-0 (w-1, nb-6), Ojha 42-7-120-3 (nb-2), Harbhajan Singh 43-3-148-4, Sehwag 4-1-7-0 (nb-1), Raina 8-1-19-1.
INDIA (I Innings):
Vijay (batting)    42
(146m, 83b, 4x4, 1x6)
Sehwag c Johnson b Hilfenhaus    30
(39m, 28b, 4x4, 1x6)
Dravid c North b Johnson    1
(7m, 7b)
Tendulkar (batting)    44
(98m, 88b, 6x4)
Extras (B-4, LB-2, W-5)    11
Total (for 2 wkts, 34.2 overs)    128
Fall of wickets: 1-37 (Sehwag), 2-38 (Dravid). Bowling: Hilfenhaus 9-2-18-1, Johnson 7-2-30-1 (w-5), George 5-1-18-0, Hauritz 11.2-0-45-0, Clarke 2-0-11-0.

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