Sitting on the lap of the Goddess of Triumph, Australia ridiculed the pretenders from India on the first day of the Sydney Test on Sunday. India was driven to a pathetic 121 for eight in 60 overs when bad light stopped play for the day.
Earlier in the morning rain had consumed about 60 minutes of play. For the fifth innings in this three-Test series, the limitations of the Indian batting line-up were exposed by the brainy Australian attack. In the first innings of the first Test (Adelaide) only a 108-run stand for the fifth wicket between Tendulkar (61) and Ganguly (60) provided some credibility to the line-up. In the second knock, Ganguly's 43 was the lone consolation. In the second Test (Melbourne), Tendulkar's fabulous 116 saved India from the humiliation of following-on.
Then in the second knock it was again Tendulkar's effort (52) that stood out as the others went without showing any semblance of tenacity. So here in Sydney, the third and final Test, when India's batting failed, it came as no surprise. In fact India's tale of woe was told in almost an identical fashion-succumbing to the enormous pressure applied by the Australia attack. All the speculations regarding the Sydney pitch proved wrong today.
" It will be a spinners' delight" was the speculation. And it turned out to be a "pacemen's day" on Sunday. The Indian batsmen had no clue to the methods adopted by the Australian attack. Even Tendulkar, who was left all alone at 69 for four, just could not plough a lone furrow for long. He, after blasting 14 runs off one over from Mcgrath was trapped leg-before in the same over. Tendulkar made 45 off 53 balls (8 fours) in a score of 95 for 5.
That should tell of India's predicament. To start the tale from the beginning. In the absence of an injured Sadagopan Ramesh, MSK Prasad opened the innings with VVS Laxman. In fact even Laxman is not a natural opener. He is a middle-order batsman being experimented with in this slot quite often. Few would have expected this pair to give India a dream of a start, that too against this magnificent attack.
Prasad was consumed in the second slip and Laxman, while fending a rising ball, fell to a simple catch in the third slip. Rahul Dravid who has been a flop in this series thus far (64 runs from four innings) gave signs of an improved display today. But, he too was trapped by the slip cordon (68 for 3).
Sourav Ganguly, the last recognised batsman in this line-up, perished in the next over. Steve Waugh brought on Greg Blewett and the medium pacer obliged off the very first ball. Ganguly just could not avoid a short pitch delivery and his evasive action ended in a catch to Steve Waugh at gully (69 for 4).