Martyn hits century but India have momentum

<preform>Australia 235 &amp; 369<BR>India 376 &amp; 19-0</preform>
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The Independent Online

A late tumbling of Australian wickets has left the second Test here poised on a knife edge. A slow-moving day burst into life after tea as the toils of the bowlers were finally rewarded. No wickets fell for 230 minutes and then they came in a rush as 284 for 4 turned into 369 all-out. India's spinners took most of the wickets and their opponents may live to regret their reluctance to field a second spinner on a pitch that, unlike Mr Kingsley Amis, has become more docile as it has aged.

A late tumbling of Australian wickets has left the second Test here poised on a knife edge. A slow-moving day burst into life after tea as the toils of the bowlers were finally rewarded. No wickets fell for 230 minutes and then they came in a rush as 284 for 4 turned into 369 all-out. India's spinners took most of the wickets and their opponents may live to regret their reluctance to field a second spinner on a pitch that, unlike Mr Kingsley Amis, has become more docile as it has aged.

By stumps India had collected 19 of the 229 runs needed to square the series. Despite the mildness of the surface and the élan shown by Virender Sehwag in the last few overs, it is a bit early to pop the corks. No team has chased more than 155 to win a Test match on the ground, a statistic that admittedly ignores India's achievement in reaching 347 in the fourth innings of the tied Test of 1986. Still, the momentum is with the hosts and the target is well within their range.

Damien Martyn led the Australian resistance with a carefully compiled century. Helped by Jason Gillespie he frustrated the bowlers almost until tea. Relying on a back-foot game and occasional voyages down the pitch, and avoiding the forward prods that previously had been his undoing, the West Australian proved a formidable obstacle to Indian aspirations. Anil Kumble and company worked hard in debilitating conditions and hardly bowled a bad ball as a large and boisterous crowd was treated to gripping struggles between skilful craftsmen and proud teams.

Martyn batted watchfully and superbly in an innings lasting 280 minutes and 210 balls. He took such opportunities to pull and cut as came his way and otherwise stunned the ball with soft hands. He did not risk a lofted stroke till he reached 96 whereupon he stepped down the pitch to drive Kumble over long-off. Martyn rejoiced at his hundred because he knew it had been his masterpiece.

Gillespie extended his night watchman duties until 10 minutes before tiffin. Presenting the deadest of bats, he kept his wicket intact for four hours in a contribution confirming the competitiveness of this Australian side. After reaching his eighth hundred in Test cricket, Martyn misread Harbhajan Singh's doosra and was held at slip. Two balls later Gillespie fell to the same curious delivery.

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