Australian left-hander Justin Langer entered the record-book as the scorer of the first century of the new millennium on Monday, the second day of the Sydney Test.
Langer was on 167 as his team raced to 331 for four by the close. The home team enjoyed a lead of 181 runs with six wickets in hand. With the Australian score at 21 for one, Langer survived a confident shout for lbw from Javagal Srinath.
Umpire Ian Robinson (Zimbabwe) turned down the appeal. Langer was seen in all sorts of trouble against Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad today. Once when he edged Srinath to the fence, the Indian paceman told the batsman, of course in a lighter vein, that he was doing that for the fifth time in this innings.
The fact that Langer went on to stay till the end would speak for his astounding staying power. No doubt he was lucky but he pounced on the opportunities that came his way to help his team assume absolute command. Langer came in at the fall of Michael Slater (nine for one) who was consumed by wicket-keeper M S K Prasad off Srinath.
Then at 49 he lost Greg Blewett who could offer only an inner edge to a beauty from Venkatesh Prasad. The ball shattered the stumps. Langer played a stellar role in building a huge Australian innings. He put on 97 runs for third wicket with Mark Waugh (32 in his 100th Test) and 121 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Steve Waugh (57).
Those two prolonged associations grounded the Indian attack that was, after all, defending a poor total (150 all out). In fact, the Indian bowlers tried all their known tricks on this day but they could not achieve the breakthroughs as frequently as they would have wished. Sachin Tendulkar introduced Sourav Ganguly at 146 for 2 (43rd over).
Ganguly brought cheers to the Indian camp by removing Mark Waugh off the first ball. The ball took the inner edge and destroyed the stumps. Indians had to wait till the 80th over for the next success. With the new ball, Srinath trapped Stave Waugh leg before off the first delivery.