India's idea of playing six batsmen in the Adelaide test against Australia had a negative impact on Saturday, the second day of the match. India was precariously placed at 123 for four at stumps. That was in reply to the home team's first innings total of 441.
Tendulkar and Ganguly (12 each) were together. In this match India's fortunes depended on the class, technique and temperament of its top order batsmen. After the home team had amassed a big first innings total, the expectations from India's top order batsmen became greater.
And the fact that four of them had already succumbed to the enormous Australian pressure, would speak volumes of India's plight Sadagopan Ramesh and Debang Gandhi were back in the pavilion with just nine runs on the board. Then, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid waged a grim battle before Laxman was foxed by Glenn McGrath to be consumed at backward point (90 for three).
Will Dravid and skipper Sachin Tendulkar enliven India's hopes of posting a suitable first innings reply? Was the theme at that juncture. But, Dravid disappointed towards the end of the day. Initially, Dravid suffered anxious moments against Shane Warne, but recovered in fine style to promise a long association with his skipper. But, Warne had the last laugh.
Warne, who was trying all his known tricks to prove a point against India, caught Dravid napping with a sharp leg-break. The batsman offered his bat and pad. The snick went into the waiting hands of Justin Langer at forward short-leg (107 for 4). Now the Tendulkar -Sourav Ganguly combination is the last recognised pair in the Indian batting line up. Only the tail has to come. That should tell eloquently of the workload that will be borne by Tendulkar and Ganguly, on Sunday. A marathon effort by these two batsmen of international calibre alone could save India from further humiliation.
Steve Waugh the Australian skipper and Ricky Pointing, the batsman number six, had done that for their side on the opening day with a 239-run stand. Remember that Australia too was driven to a nasty hole of 52 for four. On Saturday, India's skipper and number six batsman Ganguly were together. Would this pair do what Waugh and Ponting did for Australia? That question will provide Tendulkar and his men a sleepless night.
Today, India's opening pair was separated by a stunning piece of fielding by Australia's Greg Blewett. The batsmen were aiming to take the fourth run even as Blewett, at deep extra-cover, had picked up the ball and thrown it at the bowler's end. Before Ramesh could reach home, the ball landed on the stumps. While Ramesh would not have expected the ball to hit the stumps directly, the fielder himself would have rated the incident as a pleasant surprise.
And then Gandhi just could not negotiate a rising delivery from McGrath. He just fended the ball rather desperately. The ball flew into the safe hands of Kasprowicz at leg gully.