Unsung Griggs leaves Indian bowling in shambles
Published: Saturday, December 7, 2002, 18:04 [IST]
Indian batting wilts on pacy Napier pitch in tour tie
Confident Ganguly says poor show only an aberration
Thatscricket Special: Indians in Kiwiland
Napier (New Zealand): India had little to cheer about ahead of the opening Test against New Zealand as it conceded an 86-run lead in a warm-up cricket match on Saturday. India was thwarted by Bevan Griggs, who hit a solid unbeaten 100 for his maiden century in 13 first-class matches as Central Districts posted 295 for nine declared in reply to its rivals' 209 on the second day of a three-day game. The unheralded middle-order batsman reached his hundred with a four over the slips off seamer Ajit Agarkar. He hit one six and 11 boundaries in his 150-ball knock to spoil the tourists' day at McLean Park. India squandered a golden opportunity of gaining the upper hand in their only warm- up game before the first Test at Wellington on December 12 as it allowed the hosts to recover from 153 for seven. "Credit should go to Griggs as he played an exceptional knock under pressure," India captain Saurav Ganguly conceded. "I could have continued with Agarkar when he was taking wickets, but wanted to give every bowler a long spell before the Test. That, however, is no excuse for our bowling performance." Agarkar, who finished with four for 50, was removed after taking three wickets in his opening five overs. "I think we could have bowled better. Even their last man batted well. We now have to bat better tomorrow," Ganguly said. India will begin its second innings on Sunday as play was called off after tea due to bad light and rain with more than 20 overs still to be bowled. Griggs applied himself well to keep the Indian attack at bay after Agarkar had raised the tourists' hopes of seizing the initiative with a triple-strike. The gutsy batsman received valuable support from tailenders Michael Mason (21), Brent Hefford and Lance Hamilton to remind the Indians that their attack lacked consistency. Griggs, 24, put the Indian bowling in proper perspective as he played a big role in his team adding 142 for the last three wickets, including an unfinished 58-run stand with last-man Hamilton. "It's a fantastic day. I won't forget it," said Griggs, a wicket-keeper who was included in the squad as a specialist batsman. "Credit should also go to the tailenders as they helped me complete the century. It was a challenge, for they were bowling well when I came in." There were frustrations in store for the tourists after a feeble batting display on Saturday as their bowlers struggled to make short work of the hosts' tail after early successes. Agarkar and seamer Tinu Yohannan looked impressive in their opening spells, but lost control as the match wore on. Left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra and key off spinner Harbhajan Singh failed to find rhythm, giving plenty of worries to their captain ahead of the Wellington Test. Griggs dominated the Indian attack after his team had been reduced from a healthy 108 for one to 153 for 7, executing handsome shots in front of the wicket. Yohannan began the mini-collapse when he held a sharp return catch to dismiss skipper Craig Separman, who added 18 to his overnight score of 40. Test batsman Mathew Sinclair (52) also fell after completing his half-century, driving Agarkar to Harbhajan at point. The Indian seamer then removed Martyn Sigley and Andrew Schwass in the same over before being replaced with Nehra.