Mighty Hayden holds firm after Kumble strikes

Published: Wednesday, December 26, 2007, 10:43 [IST]
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Melbourne: Matthew Hayden claimed his 28th Test century to lead an Australian recovery on the opening day of the first cricket Test against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 36-year-old opening batsman watched three quick wickets fall in the middle session after sharing in a century opening partnership with Phil Jaques to raise his sixth hundred in nine Tests at the MCG and fourth against India.

The powerful left-hander became the eighth all-time player with the most Test centuries behind Indian Sachin Tendulkar (37).

He continued his run of high scores against India against whom he averages almost 65 compared to his career average of 53.

At tea, Australia were 213 for three with Hayden unconquered on 121 and Michael Clarke not out 14.

Hayden struggled early in the morning but was in imperious form in the afternoon, batting for 236 minutes and hitting nine fours off 168 balls.

Skipper Anil Kumble triggered a mini-collapse in the hour after lunch with the wickets of Phil Jaques (66) and Mike Hussey (2), book-ending the key dismissal of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting for four.

Jaques was deceived by a Kumble wrong'un and was smartly stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He put on 135 for the first wicket with Hayden in 142 minutes.

Jaques, who has replaced retired opener Justin Langer, continued his impressive summer, following up his scores of 100, 150 and 68 in last month's two Tests against Sri Lanka and bringing up his first century opening stand with Hayden.

Zaheer Khan, bowling around the wicket, claimed Ponting's scalp, bowling the Australian skipper for four with a delivery that straightened off the pitch.

It was a rare batting failure for Ponting, the top-ranked batsman in world cricket.

Kumble snared another big wicket, trapping Hussey leg before wicket with a googly that struck his back leg as he played forward to the wrist-spinner.

Hussey went to the crease averaging 86.18 in each innings and his cheap dismissal was rejoiced by the Indian fieldsmen.

It was Kumble's 586th Test wicket and he lies third as the all-time player with the most wickets behind Muttiah Muralitharan (723) and Shane Warne (708).

Australia had slumped to 165 for three in the 40th over, 3-30 from Jaques' dismissal. But Hayden and Clarke steadied the innings in an unbroken 48-run partnership.

Hayden offered only one chance, a tough catching opportunity to Kumble in the gully off Zaheer when he was on 68.

The Australians left tearaway paceman Shaun Tait out of their eleven, going into the first match of the four-Test series with three quicks and wrist-spinner Brad Hogg.

India decided to use two spinners, Harbhajan Singh to bowl in tandem with Kumble's legspin.

Australia are just two wins from equalling their run of 16 under former skipper Steve Waugh from October 1999 to February 2001.

The Australians' last home series loss was 14 years ago to the West Indies 2-1 and they have been unbeaten in 26 subsequent home series.

Australia were last beaten at the MCG by England by 12 runs in a thriller nine years ago.

India are chasing their first series win in Australia and have won just four Tests in eight Australian tours.

Brief Score (at tea, D-1):

Australia 213/3 (Hayden 121*, Jaques 66; Kumble 2 for 46, Zaheer 1 for 56) Vs India


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