Cricket: Kumble's strike

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AUSTRALIA came off second best yesterday on a riveting day's play in the First Test against India in this southern Indian city.

The visitors endured more than a few torrid moments and were in the batting horrors half the time. Their innings was anchored by a typically stylish 66 from Mark Waugh and they ended the day at 193 for 7. Ian Healy, on 31, and Shane Warne, on 15, were unbeaten.

Defending their modest first-innings total of 257, India applied intense pressure on the Australian openers, Mark Taylor and Michael Slater, who were unable to work the new ball away.

The Aussies were put into a tailspin once the leg-spinner Anil Kumble was introduced at the end of the seventh over. Bowling from the Pavilion End, Kumble posed endless problems with his bounce and variation. Slater was the first to go, snapped up bat-pad by Rahul Dravid off Kumble. Steve Waugh was baffled by a Kumble top-spinner and was comprehensively beaten and bowled. Ricky Ponting and Greg Blewett were similarly at sea against the other spinners, Rajesh Chauhan and Venkatapathy Raju.

Taylor scratched around for 102 minutes, facing 73 balls, and when he edged the seamer Harvinder Singh behind to Nayan Mongia the top five were back in the pavilion with just 119 on the board.

Earlier, India added a mere 25 runs to their overnight score of 232 for 5 with the tailenders falling to the spin of Shane Warne and Gavin Robertson.That they managed to get past the 250 mark was down to Dravid and Kumble, who put on 51. Dravid weighed in with 52 in 240 minutes while Kumble hit a dogged 30. Warne and Robertson took four wickets apiece.