India trap Martyn after century lifts Australia

Australia 362-7 v India
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The Independent Online

Tenacious cricket from India restored the balance of a match that had seemed to be slipping away from them on the first day of the third Test against Australia here.

Tenacious cricket from India restored the balance of a match that had seemed to be slipping away from them on the first day of the third Test against Australia here.

By taking a clatter of wickets in the final session, India were able to contain an Australia side who lost their way towards the end. Before a ball had been bowled India lost their captain, two lively young bowlers and the toss, and presently the match too had a bleak aspect. But contests between these countries seldom follow a predictable course and by stumps both teams had reason to smile and curse.

Damien Martyn was both the hero and the villain of the piece. After rescuing the innings with a composed and cultured contribution lasting 165 balls, he was tempted into a reckless stroke by a wily opponent. Bowling slower than usual, Anil Kumble watched as it was dispatched onto the roof of the player's pavilion. Two balls later he offered another apple, Martyn took a bite and was held at deep mid-off to bring to an end a smoothly-played innings.

India began badly by losing Harbhajan Singh to a virus and Sourav Ganguly to a groin strain. Worse followed as Adam Gilchrist called correctly and took first innings on a pitch blessed with bounce and likely to assist the spinners later in proceedings. India did not take any wickets in the first hour and Zaheer Khan and Kumble bowled long spells as the acting captain put his best cards on the table.

But the Australians had not batted with their customary aplomb and in a blink three wickets fell for 19 runs. Zaheer's unstinting second spell was rewarded as Matthew Hayden edged to the wicketkeeper. Zaheer celebrated again as Justin Langer sliced to slip. Simon Katich continued to shuffle across his stumps until he meekly tapped a catch to short leg.

Australia had slipped from 67 for 0 to 86 for 3. Now came a staunch partnership between Martyn and Darren Lehmann, who sent the score speeding along and it took an injury to part them. Having reached 65, Lehmann rushed for a second run and tore his hamstring. Although granted a runner, he threw his bat until he was taken at slip. India struck again as Gilchrist stepped down the pitch and, in a confusion of foot and bat, offered a return catch to Murali Kartik, whose contribution confirmed that left-arm spin is on its way back. Gilchrist left without waiting for the umpire which ought to cheer up even former England captains.

Martyn and Michael Clarke took the score past 300 as the old hand stroked the ball around and the energetic newcomer flexed his muscles. Kumble changed ends, Martyn chanced his arm, Shane Warne played an idiotic shot and in a trice the match was back on an even keel.

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