Sydney: India clawed its way back into their tour match against NSW through an inspiring bowling performance by Anil Kumble and a gritty unbeaten half-century by Ramesh. For India to make any impact in the forthcoming test series, it was very important that Kumble found some form.
Kumble definitely provided the glimpses of his mesmerizing line and length at the spinner friendly SCG pitch and his morale boosting four-wicket haul would surely send alarm bells in the Australian camp ringing. In a sensational second spell of seven overs from the southern end, Kumble sent the sagging spirit of the Indian team soaring. He took two wickets each in his 11th and 17th overs to return with a figure of 4 for 50.
India restricted New South Wales's first innings lead to 46 dismissing them for 231 about half an hour before the scheduled tea break. In their second knock despite losing two quick wickets late in the day, India finished the second day at a respectable 2 for 110 with Ramesh on a well compiled 70 (12 boundaries) and Kanitkar on 9. NSW started the day at the overnight score of 1 for 35 but India claimed two quick wickets in the first hour of play. Corey Richards looked confident against the bowling of Srinath and Prasad, until he was struck on the hip by Srinath. Greg Hayne acted as runner for Richards with the batsman on 48. His innings came to an end on 51 when he edged Prasad to Ganguly at second slip.
Michael Bevan lasted just five deliveries before popping the ball to Vijay Bharadwaj at short square leg for an easy catch to give Srinath his first wicket of the innings. The NSW captain made only 2. Greg Mail and Shane Lee added 59 runs for the 4th wicket and just when it looked like the dangerous Lee would take the initiative away from the Indians, two wickets just before lunch, swung the scale back in India's favour. Their partnership came to an end when Greg Mail's patient 171-minute innings ended on 31. Mail fell to Saurav Ganguly's second ball of the innings when Sadagopan Ramesh took a sharp catch at slip, moving high to his right to take the ball double-handed.
Shane Lee was looking increasingly aggressive and dominated the partnership, the first 50 of which was brought up in 52 minutes. Lee lost his wicket on the last ball before lunch, hooking a Prasad bouncer which was taken by Srinath at deep fine-leg. At the lunch break the blues were 5/135, fifty runs behind India. Michael Clarke, on his first-class debut, and wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin joined hands to take the score to 182, largely due to some wayward bowling by Srinath, whose two overs cost 23 runs. It was pretty evident with his gingerly movement that Srinath was not hundred per cent fit.
It will be a big setback to India's chances if Srinath does not recover quickly. At 5 for 182, the match again looked like slipping from India's grasp, when the Indian captain turned to his lanky leg spinner. Sparse, but very vocal Indians fans greeted Kumble's return from southern end. Kumble found his line and length straight away and in the second over of that spell he accounted for Clarke, bowled with a beautiful top spinner.
Robertson joined Haddin but a smart field placement at silly point proved fatal for Robertson. He popped an easy catch for Laxman to give Kumble his second victim in three balls. Ganguly and Agarkar provided excellent support from the Randwick end. Agarkar, especially, generated lively pace and was clearly unplayable for the tailenders.
Even the well set Haddin survived a confident LBW appeal from Agarkar. Agarkar, whom the Australians rate very highly, must continue this form and he may make his critics, back home, rue their words. After some lusty hitting by Haddin, Kumble ended the NSW innings when he bowled him for 60 and two balls later trapped Nash for a duck.