Watson slams ton; India end day on a high
Mohali: If Australia had Shane Watson, India had Zaheer Khan. Shane Watson slammed an unbeaten ton but Zaheer took three wickets including a couple in the dying minutes of the first day`s play to restrict Australia to 224/5 when stumps were drawn, here at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium on Friday.
Having won the toss and electing to bat first, Australia were met with some initial jitters as they almost lost Watson in the very first over itself. Virender Sehwag missed a simple catch to drop Watson at zero, thus, giving a second life-line to the Aussie opener. Little did he know that the mistake would prove so costly!
In the fifth over, however, Zaheer settled the unfinished business and took his first wicket of the day by dismissing Australia’s second opener Simon Katich for just 6 runs. Katich’s short stay on the crease was accompanied by a boundary.
Despite the early loss, Australia continued to go strong as the deadly duo of Shane Watson and skipper Ricky Ponting helped the team recuperate and post a decent score of 101/1 at lunch.
The Watson-Ponting duo kept on smashing boundaries in the post-lunch session as the latter claimed his 53rd Test half-ton.
Their party on the field was soon gate-crashed by Suresh Raina when a swift and prompt display of fielding by him led to the run-out dismissal of Ponting, who scored 71 runs, with the help of ten boundaries. Together, Watson and Ponting built a massive partnership of 141 runs.
A few overs after Ponting’s dismissal, Michael Clarke (14) too lost his wicket cheaply. Bhajji nicely turned in his delivery to Clarke, who instead hit it at the outside edge, thus, giving a straight catch to Rahul Dravid at first slip.
The double-wicket gain in the second session gave India an upper hand in the game, and leaving the visitors’ scorecard at 172/3.
Resuming the game in the final session, the visitors again lost two more wickets towards the end, much to India’s delight, again thanks to Zaheer. He first caught Michael Hussey (14) plumb in front of the wickets, and then a couple of overs later, he bowled out Marcus North for a duck.
Watson, however, continued to hold on to his nerve and put up a gritty innings of 101(not out), not only to claim his second Test century, after being dropped at duck, but also to help Australia reach 224/5 at the end of the first day.
Australia: Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting(c), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Tim Paine(w), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger
India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni(w/c), Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma