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Adelaide test: Australia on road to victory

Published: Monday, December 13, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
 
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India was in a terrible mess on Monday, the fourth day of the Adelaide test against Australia. Set to get 396 runs in 115 overs, India finished the day on a humiliating note. Ganguly (31) and MSK Prasad (six) were together at a closing score of 76 for five.

India chose the "six batsmen-four bowlers" combination for this match, the first of the three-test series. This formula would turn out to be a successful one if only the side possessed the right men in the right slots. Eventually, India found that it did not enjoy such resources at its command. In the first innings, the bowlers began on a grand note by dismissing four Australian wickets for only 52 runs.

Then, the attack lacked the needed variety and class to apply sustained pressure. So Australia amassed 441 runs. Then, the Indian batsmen could not go beyond 285, against the four-man Australian attack that exhibited extraordinary skill to keep the rival batting line up under constant pressure. In the second innings, the Indian bowlers performed with an admirable sense of imagination and did a creditable job in containing Australia at 239 for eight. At that juncture, Australia encouraged by its 156-run first innings lead, declared the innings leaving India with a challenging victory target.

McGrath gave a rousing start by removing Debang Gandhi off the sixth ball. McGrath's partner Damien Fleming reacted suitably by getting rid of the next man VVS Laxman who had no clue while dealing with a swinging delivery. Shane Warne, one of Australia's first innings heroes, came on to bowl the eighth over of the innings and bemused Rahul Dravid with a superb ball. The batsman went forward only to be beaten by the turn.

The ball hit the glove and wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist did no mistake. Then came the most terrible blow of them all. Sachin Tendulkar in his effort to avoid a bouncer from McGrath got into a crouching position. The ball hit the bottom of Tendulkar's left shoulder. The bowler appealed, and, umpire D Harper ruled Tendulkar out 'leg before the wicket'. It may be recalled that the same umpire had given Tendulkar a controversial 'bat-pad" decision in the first innings. Was Tendulkar out in the second innings? The TV replay would force many an expert to say "the umpire could have given the benefit of doubt to the batsman".

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