Scorecard | Dhoni equals Ganguly's record | The easiest job | A day to remember
CHENNAI: The formality of last rites was performed as a matter of course on Tuesday morning as India took a one-nil lead in the four-Test series against Australia. The visitors, gasping for life overnight, breathed their last nine overs into the morning and set India a victory target of 50, which was achieved by the home team for the loss of a their openers. No surprises there!
Clarke says India completely 'outplayed' Australia
What was surprising was Sachin Tendulkar – walking out at the fall of Virender Sehwag with 14 needed – clubbing sixes against the unfortunate Nathan Lyon off the first two balls he faced. If the dutiful crowd that had turned up needed anything to sweeten an already saccharine victory, it was the two mega hits from the blade of the master.
It was a grand beginning to the series, the opening match having been enlivened by MS Dhoni’s dizzying double-hundred on the third day and off-spinner R. Ashwin’s 12 wickets at his home ground - all on a crumbling, disintegrating pitch; but India will graciously accept the result after a tumultuous home season the previous year.
The memory of England returning from a one-Test deficit to win a needle series last year, however, is still fresh in memory. Although the current Australian side is not in the same class as England – the lack of a quality spinner their most glaring shortcoming – the hosts will be wise to watch out for an Antipodean comeback in the three matches remaining.
There were no twists in the morning. Australia resumed on 232 for nine and added nine more in as many overs before Lyon inside-edged Ravindra Jadeja, off the pad, to Murali Vijay at short leg. This led to an interesting statistic: all 20 Aussie wickets in the match fell to spin. Moises Henriques remained unconquered on 81, his second fifty on debut, and was along with Michael Clarke’s first innings century and James Pattinson’s pace, one of the few positives for the losing team.
India lost Vijay and Sehwag before reeling in the trifling target. The local boy, who had been murdered by a Pattinson scud missile in the first innings, did himself no favours by getting our cheaply for the second time in the match. If it was Pattinson's pace that did him earlier, this time it was a desire to tear down the requirement in a hurry.
Having carted Lyon for six, Vijay tried a full-blooded drive against Pattinson, only to be held at mid-off. Sehwag had walked out without his glasses. He retraced his steps to retrieve the invaluable visual aid and three fours materialized from the bat of the Najafgarh Nawab: two thick-ish edges off Pattinson and a dead straight drive to Peter Siddle.
Sehwag was out defending to Lyon, an edge that was taken by an alert Michael Clarke at slip. A minor psychological battle thus was won by the Aussies against India's openers, who continue to struggle as an entity despite various permutations and combinations. A small victory, far less inspiring to the Australians as it is grievous for India.