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Ponting would still be thinking about "ifs"
by Amit Masram
Oct 15, 2008
The first test between India and Australia ended in a hard fought draw, with Ponting would still be thinking about "ifs". It was a gripping test with the pendulum swinging in Australia's favour more than India's. The toss proved vital again and Australia made full use of the best batting conditions on offer, putting runs on board. Ricky Ponting tried to fill a hole in his career by scoring a brilliant hundred and Hussey matched his skipper with a strokeful ton.

India were bailed out the jail with the Harbhajan-Zaheer association of 80 runs for the eighth wicket and that was the time when the momentum quietly shifted towards the Indians after India was precariously placed at 155for 5, with the danger of follow-on looming large. Ganguly showed tremendous application in knock of 47 and Dravid played like a grafter after quite some time. Australia thoroughly missed a genuine spinner who could run through the opposition and take advantage of the cracks on day five, even though Michael Clark and White, even if half as good troubled the batsman.India must have felt deja vu when Rahul Dravid was picked up by Ponting's acrobatic catch at midwicket immediately after Sehwag's dismissal and one felt ghosts of the Sydney test waiting to haunt again. However Tendulkar and Laxman, and later on Ganguly applied themselves with resolute knocks to earn a well deserved draw.

What a test Zaheer had! He got the bowl to reverse and was instrumental in that partnership with Harbhajan, with both scoring half centuries which took the game away from the Aussies. Ponting gave a total which would have been under threat if Sehwag would have come good . However it was suprising to see Ricky Ponting go in a defensive mindset when the Harbhajan Zaheer partnership was on, as a result the game slipped out of Australia's grasp.

India have lots of positive to take from the match and for most part of the contest, it was test match cricket at its best with all three results likely at start of day five.Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan bowled exceedingly well under testing conditions and troubled all batsman alike with in dipper. Anil Kumble has had a ordinary test going wicket less and lacked resourcefulness, while Dhoni will look to siege the initiative to prove his batting credentials in Mohali.From a Australian standpoint, Lee and Johnson employed a lot of variation in pace which yielded results for them.

The strip at Mohali will offer more assistance to the pacers and lot more carry to the wicketkeeper. Australia will feel at home. Round one has been a no result affair and the battle shifts to Mohali, but at the moment cricket lovers are rest assured of a riveting series in the offing.
 
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