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India bowled out for 191 on Opening Morning of Sydney Test, Australia 116/3 in response

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sehwag_fallsThe first day of the second test match between Australia and India at the SCG on Tuesday was thoroughly dominated by the hosts who demolished the ageing Indian batting side for under 200 on a good batting wicket, before wriggling their way out of a difficult predicament and ending up on 116/3 just 75 runs short of the Indian total. India, having opted to bat first, could not see through the early freshness in the wicket and therefore lost wickets in clusters to end on a paltry 191 all out. MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar made 57 and 41 respectively, the only substantial contributions in the Indian innings. Australia's reply was in tatters at 37/3 before the experienced Michael Clarke (47*) and Ponting (44*) resurrected the innings and put the hosts in command in the 2nd test.

India and Australia were greeted with clear skies and bright sunshine at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the opening day of the 2nd test of this four match series. As expected, the pitch had a good healthy covering of grass to assist the hosts' quick bowlers. India's captain MS Dhoni won an important toss on a glorious day in Sydney and opted to bat first. Both captains, showed faith in the players that played in the first test at the MCG and opted to retain the same playing XIs for this game which meant rookie batsmen Virat Kohli and Shaun Marsh got yet another opportunity to prove their mettle at this level.

After opting to bat first, India got off to a horrid start with opener Gautam Gambhir dismissed for naught off the 3rd ball of the match, caught at 1st slip, looking to play across a ball seaming away, off the bowling of James Pattinson. Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag then held fort for about 40 mins in rather streaky and circumspect fashion before Dravid (5) played a straight ball way away from his body and in the process lobbing a straight forward catch to Ed Cowan at short-leg.

Sehwag (30) was completely out of sorts too, playing and missing on numerous occasions. He was given a chance be Ricky Ponting, who dropped a sitter at 2nd slip off a healthy outside edge found by Ben Hilfenhaus. James Pattinson backed up a superb performance at the MCG with yet another fine spell in this test match troubling all the batsmen at the crease. He was rewarded for the second time in the day as he found the outside edge of Sehwag's bat and this time it was safely pouched by Brad Haddin behind the wicket.

The misery was piled on further, as India's Mr. Consistent against Australia, VVS Laxman (2) departed for yet another low score nicking a half volley from Pattinson straight to Shaun Marsh at third slip.

Sachin Tendulkar was yet again India's best batsman by a distance on the first morning, looking at ease right from the start. He carried on from where he left off at the MCG as he drove and defended confidently both of the front and back foot. Young Virat Kohli, coming in at 6, looked confident as he was unbeaten on 12 during his brief stay in the first session. India crawled to a shameful 72/4 at Lunch on Day 1 with 4 famed bastmen back in the hutch on a good looking pitch.

Tendulkar and Kohli looked solid after lunch, and for the first time in the day batted with some confidence and poise. The duo added 24 runs after tea before Kohli fell to a peach of a delivery from Peter Siddle after a well made 23.

India's captain MS Dhoni coming in at 7 added some useful runs with Tendulkar at a quick rate. Sachin was looking very good and unperturbed at the crease until he dragged on a pretty innocuous looking half volley from Pattinson on to his middle stump after having made 41. Ravi Ashwin then came in at no.8 and like in the previous match looked rather assured at the crease. He combined with Dhoni to keep the Australians at bay and keep the scoreboard moving. The last recognised pair added 54 runs before Ashwin (20) perished in the last over before tea, giving Hilfenhaus a well deserved wicket after being caught by Clarke at 1st slip. Hilfenhaus then with his tail up, knocked Zaheer Khan over for a golden duck with a vicious short ball and had India reeling on 178/8 at tea.

With two wickets left in the bag, India's skipper MS Dhoni decided to use the long handle and get India close to the 200 mark. He was rather successful in his method as he brought up his fifty in fine style, smacking Peter Siddle for two brilliant boundaries off the back foot. Ishant Sharma, known for his dogged resistance, couldn't make a handy contribution this time around as he was surprised by a fierce bouncer from Hilfenhaus and fended it straight to Cowan at short-leg. Dhoni's positive approach did fetch India a few runs but the Aussies polished the  innings off from the other end with Siddle getting Umesh Yadav caught behind, poking at a good length delivery also for naught. India thys folded up for a 191 runs, 15 mins into the last session after a shambolic batting effort on a good pitch.

Australia's response to India's total of 191 was rocked early by pace ace Zaheer Khan, who dismissed David Warner (8) in the first over of the innings. There was a rare bit of good fortune to the dismissal with Warner's outside edge going to 2nd slip where Laxman parried the catch to an alert Tendulkar standing next to him. Zaheer struck again with the first ball of the very next over finding the outside edge of Shaun Marsh (0) with Laxman holding on this time.

Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting added 31 crucial runs before Cowan was trapped in front by a Zaheer delivery darting in. Cowan was Zaheer's third victim of the innings, all three being left handers. Australian captain Michael Clarke then came in at No.5 with Australia in trouble at 38/3 and over an hour of play left on day 1.

The captain ex-captain duo of Ponting and Clarke took charge under what looked like wonderful batting conditions at the fag end of the day. They scored at an excellent rate of over 4.5 runs per over taking the attack to the Indian bowlers. Clarke in particular, looked in great touch and batted with great intent right from the outset and transferred the pressure back onto the bowlers. Ponting looked secure at the other end too, looking to score of every opportunity presented. The pair got Australia safely past the 100-run mark in just the 24th over and both batsmen looked in little trouble as they were closing in on the Indian total. The introduction of spin too didn't seem to affect the well set pair as they saw their side through to the end of the day without further loss and were eventually just 75 shy of the Indian first innings score.

Owing to a baffling collapse on what looked like a very good batting wicket, the Indian team have probably conceded the match to the Australians, who looked in total control right from the morning session. With Clarke and Ponting looking rather menacing, the Indians will be hoping for some divine inspiration to steer them away from what again looks like a Day 4 defeat. The Australians on the other hand would look to get a big first innings lead and bat India out of the game, and in the process set the platform to go 2-0 up in the series.

Teams:

Australia:·Ed Cowan, D Warner, S Marsh, R Ponting, M Clarke, M Hussey, B Haddin, J Pattinson, P Siddle, N Lyon, B Hilfenhaus

India: V Sehwag, G Gambhir, R Dravid, S Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, V Kohli, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, I Sharma, U Yadav

Mini Scorecard:

India 1st Innings 191 all out (59.3 overs)
S Tendulkar 41 (89) J Pattinson 4/43
MS Dhoni 57* (77) P Siddle 3/55

Australia 1st Innings 116/3 (26 overs)
M Clarke 47*(59)  Z Khan 3/26
R Ponting 44*(62)

File Photograph Copyright: BCB