THE CONTROVERSIAL dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar, India's captain and key batsman, for a duck sent his team tumbling towards defeat in the first Test against Australia here yesterday.
At stumps on the fourth day, India were 76 for 5 in their pursuit of an improbable 396 to win. Tendulkar was given out lbw when he attempted to duck under a short ball from Glenn McGrath which did not bounce as much as expected and hit his left shoulder. Umpire Daryl Harper thought for some time before raising his finger.
Tendulkar trooped off a dejected figure with India 27 for 4 in their second innings, needing to survive for 445 minutes on a pitch helping the bowlers. The vice-captain, Sourav Ganguly (31), and Mannava Prasad (6) saw the tourists to the close.
It was the second time in the game that Tendulkar's departure had been clouded with doubt. In the first innings he was controversially adjudged by Harper to have been caught at short leg.
It was McGrath who had started the mayhem when he dismissed the opener Devang Gandhi (0) with the last ball of his first over before India had a run on the board. Gandhi was unsettled by a series of short balls from Australia's paceman before edging to Adam Gilchrist behind the stumps.
Vangipurappu Laxman (0) was dismissed by the very first ball he faced - a swinging delivery from Damien Fleming which speared between bat and pad. Rahul Dravid (6) survived 16 balls before falling to Shane Warne, also caught by Gilchrist. India's hopes receded further when their other opener Sadagoppan Ramesh (28) was trapped lbw by Warne.
Earlier in the day India had performed superbly in the field to force Australia to delay their declaration until 25 minutes after tea. Ajit Agarkar removed the Waugh twins, Mark (8) and captain Steve (5), in the space of five overs. Agarkar, only 22, also struck later in the innings to trap Australia's top-scorer Greg Blewett (88) to give him figures of 3 for 43 from 18 overs.
Javagal Srinath then removed Shane Warne (0) and Adam Gilchrist (43) and finished with 3 for 64. Blewett's knock took six hours and 262 balls, and illustrated how well the Indians stuck to their task.
Fourth day; Australia won toss
AUSTRALIA - First Innings 441 (S R Waugh 150, R T Ponting 125, S K Warne 86).
INDIA - First Innings 285 (Warne 4-92).
AUSTRALIA - Second Innings
(Overnight: 71 for 2)
G S Blewett b Agarkar 88
M E Waugh c Laxman b Agarkar 8
*S R Waugh c M Prasad b Agarkar 5
R T Ponting c M Prasad b V Prasad 21
A C Gilchrist c Laxman b Srinath 43
S K Warne c Dravid b Srinath 0
M S Kasprowicz not out 21
Extras (3b, 8lb, 2w, 2nb) 15
Total (for 8 dec, 89.5 overs) 239
Fall (cont): 3-95, 4-113, 5-153, 6-204, 7-205, 8-239.
Did not bat: D W Fleming, G D McGrath.
Bowling: Srinath 21.5-4-64-3; Agarkar 18-6-43-3; V Prasad 18-5-48-1; Kumble 32-9-73-1.
INDIA - Second Innings
D J Gandhi c Gilchrist b McGrath 0
S Ramesh lbw b Warne 28
V V S Laxman b Fleming 0
R Dravid c Gilchrist b Warne 6
*S R Tendulkar lbw b McGrath 0
S C Ganguly not out 31
M S K Prasad not out 6
Extras (5nb) 5
Total (for 5, 26 overs) 76
Fall: 1-0, 2-3, 3-24, 4-27, 5-48.
To bat: J Srinath, B K V Prasad, A Kumble, A B Agarkar.
Bowling: McGrath 6-1-19-2; Fleming 3-1-13-1; Warne 10-6-21-2; Kasprowicz 6-0-23-0; M Waugh 1-1-0-0.
Umpires: D J Harper and R S Dunne (NZ).