India v Australia: First Test, Day 5 commentary

By Tristan Holme (South Africa)   Last updated: 5th October 2010  

India won by 1 wicket It looked like it would go down to the wire as we entered the final day, but I don't think we expected it to be this close. When Tendulkar got out to Bollinger when well set and then Dhoni and Harbhajan fell cheaply India were 92 runs from victory with two wickets remaining. Sharma and Laxman put on a crucial stand of 81, but there was still more drama at the end. Sharma got a poor lbw decision, then the Aussies got robbed when Johnson had Ojha plumb lbw in that last over. The absence of Bollinger after lunch was a big blow for them, but it's all ifs and buts - what matters is the bottom line. And it says that India have won one of the all-time great Test matches. What a beauty. I'm off to write a report, but thanks for following. See you for the second Test in Bangalore on Saturday. Cheers.

Joy all round Except for the Australians of course. The three batsmen out in the middle - including the runner Raina - embrace in the middle of the pitch as the crowd goes nuts and their teammates storm onto the field. Laxman is the hero having come in with a stiff back to see India home, but what a Test match this has been - the best since Edgbaston 2005? Certainly the closest since then.

Over 58.4 Johnson to Ojha 2lb 216-9 - India win! Incredible scenes here - Johnson bowls a shocker, full and on Ojha's legs. It deflects down to fine leg and the batsmen scamper back for the two they need to win.

Over 58.3 Johnson to Ojha 0 214-9 - Left alone outside off stump. Two runs needed.

Over 58.2 Johnson to Ojha 4 214-9 - Drama! Incredible stuff. Johnson has a huge appeal for lbw, having hit Ojha on the back knee roll. Ojha was out of his crease as Bowden gave him not out, and Clarke misses the stumps with a throw by a couple of inches. Would have been out, instead it goes for four overthrows. And Hawkeye says that lbw was plumb! Unbelievable.

Over 58.1 Johnson to Ojha 0 210-9 - Outside off stump, Ojha feels for it but is beaten by some distance.

Over 57.6 Hilf to Laxman 0 210-9 - Good bouncer. Laxman ducks underneath it so Ojha will be on strike at the start of the next over. What a game. Six more runs needed.

Over 57.5 Hilf to Laxman 0 210-9 - Driven to mid-off, Raina comes for the run but Ojha doesn't! Eventually Raina gets back, having practically run two there.

Over 57.4 Hilf to Laxman 0 210-9 - Blocked to gully. No run.

Over 57.3 Hilf to Laxman 2 210-9 - Driven out to deep point, where it's well fielded by Clarke but he had ground to make and Raina scampers back for a second.

Over 57.2 Hilf to Ojha 1 208-9 - Angled down to third man for a single. Nicely played. Eight more to win - two boundaries would do it.

Over 57.1 Hilf to Ojha 0 207-9 - Driven straight to cover. No run.

Over 56.6 Johnson to Laxman 0 207-9 - The field comes up, Laxman pulls a short one to Clarke's left at mid-on. Clarke makes a great diving stop to save the single, so Ojha will have to face.

Over 56.5 Johnson to Laxman 2 207-9 - Full delivery outside off, Laxman jags his bat down and spears the ball through point. Much screaming and shouting and they run two. Just nine needed to win now.

Over 56.4 Johnson to Laxman 0 205-9 - Wide delivery, left alone outside off stump. A little head waggle from Laxman acknowledges it afterwards.

Over 56.3 Johnson to Laxman 0 205-9 - Mistimed as he lofts a drive in the air to cover, but all the fielders are out. No run taken.

Over 56.2 Johnson to Laxman 0 205-9 - Driven out to wide long-off, but to the fielder so they decline the single again.

Over 56.1 Johnson to Laxman 0 205-9 - Driven out to deep cover, no run taken as the single is declined.

Over 55.6 Hilf to Ojha 0 205-9 - And again. Over up. India still need 11 runs. Johnson to bowl the next over.

Over 55.5 Hilf to Ojha 0 205-9 - Left alone outside off stump.

Over 55.4 Hilf to Ojha 0 205-9 - Beaten outside the off stump. Hawkeye shows that the lbw ball to Sharma was just missing leg stump.

Over 55.3 Hilfenhaus to Ojha 0 206-9 - Hilfenhaus around the wicket to the left-hander, Ojha digs out a superb yorker.

Over 55.2 Hilfenhaus to Sharma W 205-9 - WICKET! Awful decision from Gould, but Ishant Sharma has to go! Hilfenhaus got one to swing into him a touch and beat the bat, it hit him in line with middle and leg, Gould thought about it for a long time before raising the finger. That probably would have gone down the leg side. Pragyan Ojha in. India need 11 runs.

Over 55.1 Hilfenhaus to Laxman 1 205-8 - Laxman drives out to deep point for a single.

Final battle Hilfenhaus will have a final dart. India need 12. We're going ball by ball here.

Over 55 Johnson 0-0-0-1-0-0 204-8 - Well, new plan here. Laxman hits the first ball out to long-off but doesn't take the single. And the second ball. They're so close that it's not worth taking the risk of Sharma playing out five deliveries every over, especially when Sharma nearly got out twice in Johnson's last over. Paine makes a superb diving stop down the leg side as Johnson errs, and then the batsmen take a single from the fourth ball. The field comes in, and Sharma is beaten by the final delivery as it fizzes across him. Time for drinks, so both sides can ponder these last 12 runs that India need.

Over 54 North 1-2-0-0-0-0 203-8 - North starts with a half-tracker, but Laxman pulls to deep backward square leg where Johnson prevents a second run. Sharma to face, and he drives against the turn through cover for two runs to go to his highest Test score. Then he's beaten by the flatter one from North. Gary Kirsten somehow looks quite calm as he looks on - not sure how he manages it. Sharma blocks out the last four balls. India need 13 more runs to win.

Over 53 Johnson 1-0-0-0-0-0 200-8 - Laxman is given the single, mostly because he's hit the ball so well today that bringing the field in would be a huge risk of conceding a boundary. Sharma ducks under a good bouncer, then plays and misses at one that angles across him. Didn't need to play at that, and Laxman gives him a quick pep talk. He blocks out a straight one, leaves another, and then pops a short one straight up in the air and it falls safely! Looked for all money as if the bowler or short leg must get there, yet somehow it dropped between them. Over up. My heart stopped there but I've got it going again. 16 runs needed.

Over 52 North 0-0-1-0-0-0 199-8 - North starts with two, good attacking deliveries, forcing Laxman to defend. But then he drops a bit short, allowing him time to saunter back and whip through square leg for a single. The field closes around Sharma, with Ponting so close in that they could touch fingers if they both put out their arms. Sharma survives. Australia are slowing things down now, trying to ratchet up the tension. Michael Clarke was warming up, but it's Johnson who'll replace Watson.

Over 51 Watson 1-0-4lb-0-0-0 198-8 - Laxman takes a single, and Sharma gets four leg-byes! It was an awful delivery from Watson, full and down the leg side, and a deflection off the pads was all it needed to beat Paine. The rest of the over is seen off - just 18 needed now. This should be India's, but I can still picture Australia running around in disbelieving celebration after nicking it at the last moment. I think we've all seen it happen before.

Over 50 North 1-0-0-1-0-1 193-8 - North continues, and Australia are still happy to give Laxman the single. Every time North loops the ball up to Sharma, the air seems to disappear from the PCA Stadium, only to return in a breath of relief when he sees it out. A prod to midwicket for a single provides some respite. The last ball rears on Laxman, but he reacts well and manages to push it through point for a single to keep strike. India need 23 runs to win.

Over 49 Watson 4-0-1-0-0-0 190-8 - Here's Shane Watson, who bowled just six overs in the first innings. He looks nervous as he warms up... and his first ball is beautifully driven on the up through cover for four by Laxman. Sublime shot, and one he plays so well because of his height. There are two short midwickets in place for the lofted clip, but Laxman manages to control his shot and push to mid-on for a single. Sharma sees out the remainder, so India need 26 to win. "My stomach is like someone has started a factory inside," writes Sreekanth. "I can't bear the tension. Who will win the match? Answer: Absolutely no idea." India really feel like they've got this one, but every time I've thought that since tea yesterday things have turned around completely. Superb match.

Over 48 North 1-0-0-0-0-0 185-8 - Here comes Marcus North. Is this the last throw of the dice? Laxman takes the single to deep midwicket, and a slip, a short leg and a short midwicket are in place for Sharma. Sharma survives, but the final ball catches the inside edge and doesn't carry to short leg. He was very defensive there indeed, but he's seen it through.

Over 47 Johnson 1-4-0-4-0-0 184-8 - On the player balconies, Bollinger looks peeved while Ojha watches on nervously, jiggling his leg and chewing gum. Laxman takes the single, and then Sharma gets four! The short one got him in all sorts of trouble, but luckily for him the ball came off a glove and looped in the air before scuttling down to the fine leg boundary. And there's four more! More control this time, as he runs one down to third man. Ponting dives to his right at second slip and watches forlornly as the ball runs away. Sharma is nearing his top score of 31 not out - what a time this would be to better it. He leaves the last two balls very well. India need 32. How are those finger nails? Still strong enough to type? Tristan.Holme@teamtalkmedia.co.za

Over 46 Hilfenhaus 1-0-0-0-0-0 175-8 - Australia give Laxman the single to allow Hilfenhaus a go at Sharma. The tailender does well to keep out a couple of outswinging full deliveries, and leaves two others. 41 more runs required.

Over 45 Johnson 0-4-0-1-1-0 174-8 - It is officially, to borrow Sir Alex Ferguson's phrase, squeaky bum time. Sharma is beaten by a ripper from Johnson, then angles one past gully for four. A couple of singles bring up the fifty partnership. My goodness this is so on right now.

Over 44 Hilfenhaus 0-0-0-0-1lb-4 168-8 - Ben Hilfenhaus opens the session from the other end, having consistently troubled the batsmen in this innings. Doug Bollinger has picked up a "precautionary abdominal side strain", according to the commentators, and won't bowl again today so that's a big blow for Australia. That must explain why Bollinger came off when he was bowling well earlier. Sharma gets a leg-bye to the leg side, and then Laxman pulls with authority through square leg for four to bring up his half-century (48 balls, 7x4s). That strike rate has kept India in the match really, and that boundary takes the runs required beloe fifty. India need 48 runs to win, and Ponting throws his arms in the air as if to ask why Hilfenhaus would bowl a half-tracker to the man in form. Temper, old chap. Temper.

Over 43 Johnson 0-0-0-0-1-0 163-8 - India looking to consolidate at the start of the session. Defend, and let the runs come to you. They do that well here, with Sharma leaving wide deliveries until Johnson comes around the wicket and angles one into his pads. AS defensive prod to the leg side finds a gap in the field, so a single is forthcoming.

Welcome back It's on.

Lunch So it's the two injured men who are holding Australia up and keeping this Test too close to call. India looked completely in control until Tendulkar got out unexpectedly, after which two quick wickets put Australia right in control. With India requiring another 54 runs to win the tourists are still favourites, but this is certainly worth sticking around for. We'll be back in around half an hour with the second session.

Over 42 Hauritz 1-0-1-2-0-2 162-8 - Ponting is gnawing on his finger nails as he speaks to Hauritz and plits Sharma's downfall, and it won't be long until we've all bitten our nails down to the quick I fancy. Sharma is doing a superb survival job, but Raina very nearly is run out. Laxman edges down to third man, Watson covers a good 40 yards to put in a diving stop, then throws over the bails for Paine to whip the bails off. Raina, running for Laxman, had turned for a third run and was then sent back by Sharma. The third umpire confirms he's just in thanks to the dive. Laxman survives to lunch, but is fortunate as another edge flies past slip to earn him a couple more runs. Plenty of drama in that final over, and plenty more to come.

Over 41 Hilfenhaus 4-1-0-0-0-0 156-8 - Sublime stuff from Laxman as Hilfenhaus returns. The first ball is short on off stump, and Laxman pulls with a unique addition of wristy play, rolling them to get on top of the ball. Somehow he picks out the gap at midwicket to earn four. Australia looked fairly at ease 20 minutes ago but now Ponting holds a concerned-looking conference with his bowler and two others when Sharma comes on strike. The tailender edges one short of the slips, and is beaten by a corker from Hilfenhaus that's simply too good for him. Frustrating for Australia, for whom this might get a little too close for comfort. One more over to lunch now.

Over 40 Hauritz 1-0-0-0-0-0 151-8 - Plenty of space for Laxman to flick away for a single, and he's happy to give Sharma the strike. Ishant then sees out the remainder of the over defensively, with both eyes firmly on lunch at this stage. If India can get to the break with this partnership intact then they can consolidate.

Over 39 Johnson 1-1-2-4-1-0 150-8 - Great over for India. A couple of good singles get things started, then Laxman pulls wide of mid-on for two before playing that classic back-foot drive of his to pierce the gap in the covers and get four. A really wristy flick to mid-on brings another single and takes India to 150. This isn't over by any means.

Over 38 Hauritz 1-0-0-4-0-0 141-8 - Decent bowling change from Ponting I reckon, as Hauritz replaces Hilfenhaus. Tendulkar had the beating of Hauritz earlier, but the offspinner should test the tailender Sharma. Laxman helps himself to the single on offer to bring Sharma on strike, but after a couple of dot balls Hauritz bowls a real pie, a half-tracker outside off stump which Sharma toe-ends through backward point for four. The lanky Indian then pads up to one on middle stump, knowing it was turning past leg stump, which draws a great smile of genuine mirth from Ponting. Not seen that too often, and he shares a laugh with the opposition.

Over 37 Johnson 1-0-0-0-0-0 136-8 - Laxman again takes a single off the first ball, leaving Sharma to fend for his life with a hugely attacking field - three slips, a gully, a short leg and a leg gully all in place as Johnson comes around the wicket to attack the stumps. Sharma gets through, but is beaten by the final delivery. Another 80 runs needed for victory. About 18 minutes to go until lunch.

Over 36 Hilfenhaus 1-0-0-0-5nb-2-0-0 135-8 - Hilfenhaus was very good with his first spell this morning without taking a wicket, and he returns to see if he can finish things off. Bit of a surprise to see him replacing Bollinger though, given that Big Bad Doug picked up a couple of wickets and has looked nasty in general. Ishant has a couple of seriously close calls - ball just passing off stump and beating him - but takes advantage of a no-ball as he steers it down to third man through Marcus North's legs. A flicks through midwicket brings two more. The crowd are finding their voices again after a periuod of quiet.

Over 35 Johnson 0-1-0-0-2-0 127-8 - Huge task facing India now. They need Laxman to grab slick runs while Ishant Sharma hols up an end. Plenty of slips in place now as Australia smell blood, but Laxman clips through midwicket for a single and then Sharma pushes through wide midwicket for a couple of runs. India need 89 runs to win.

Over 34 Bollinger 0-W-2-W-0-0 124-8 - WICKET! Dhoni is run out! Hilfenhaus is getting the biggest lovies from his teammates right now after a direct hit at the striker's end from behind the bowler's end, but the real problem for India there was confusion between Dhoni and Raina. Tendulkar was telling Raina earlier that he needed to call louder when he was at square leg, and Raina wasn't clear enough with his calling here. Laxman droive past the bowler. There was a single and Raina ran it, but Dhoni was confused, paused, then realised he had to get his skates on. It was too late, Hilfenhaus hit and Dhoni was a yard and a half short. WICKET! Harbhajan goes as well! He'd got off the mark straight away with a drive through the covers, but then the shortish ball did him. Extra bounce saw it leap off the pitch, Harbhajan flinched and the ball flew off the glove to Ponting at second slip. ishant Sharma in now, and India's hopes are receding quickly.

Over 33 Johnson 0-0-0-0-0-0 122-6 - Dhoni's beaten by one outside the off stump, nearly getting out in the same fashion as the first innings when he was caught at slip, but then looks more and more comfortable as the over progresses. That's the first maiden in 12 overs, so Australia have reeled India in for the moment.

Over 32 Bollinger 0-0-0-0-1-0 122-6 - Two slips and a gully in place for Dhoni, who's looking a little nervous out there to start with. There's no short leg though, and that saves him as a pad-bat loops up in the air before falling safely. India need to keep scoring here I reckon - if they go into their shell on this pitch they'll be sitting ducks. They need 94 more runs to win.

Over 31 Johnson 1-0-0-1-0-0 121-6 - Well what a finish we have on our hands here. Laxman is going great guns, having zipped to a run-a-ball 25, and has been joined at the crease by MS Dhoni. The skipper gets off the mark with a forward push into the leg side for a single, and then Johnson produces a clever piece of bowling, offering the slower ball pitched up outside off. Laxman was camped on his heels in expectation of the vicious bouncer, and offered a lame waft of the bat that could well have porduced an edge.

Over 30 Bollinger 2b-1-4-1-0-W 119-6 - Bollinger gets an extra catcher, so he has a slip, a wide slip and a gully in place. Tendulkar nearly gets an edge as he chases after a wide one, then gets bonus runs when he misses because Paine fails to deal with the extra bounce. A couple of byes to third man result. Laxman then cracks one through extra cover off the back foot, and stands and dmires the shot as it races away to the boundary. This scoring rate is phenomenal - In 13 overs this morning India have put on 64 runs. WICKET! My mouth has just dropped open in disbelief, because Tendulkar is gone! Bollinger dropped one a bit short and Tendulkar just tried to help it over the slips, but it wasn't quite as wide as he expected and as it cramped him for room he just steered to Mike Hussey's left at gully. Hussey made no mistake, and Australia go absolutely mental. The celebrations show you just how important that wicket is. Phew.

Over 29 Hilfenhaus 0-0-1-0-0-4b 111-5 - Another good over from Hilfenhaus, but India are scoring even when the going is tough. They're helped along in this over by four byes as a bouncer takes off and flies over Tim Paine's head. That's likely to be Hilfenhaus' last over, because he's looking a little knackered now.

Over 28 Bollinger 0-1-0-1-4-0 106-5 - Doug Bollinger on now, and he's hugely unlucky not to pick up a wicket. First Tendulkar gets in a real tangle as one takes off, catches the glove and loops into a vacant area on the leg side, and then Laxman edges through third slip for four. Ponting had just moved himself out of the slips to short backward square leg because Laxman had flicked one uppishly through that region. A good first over from Bollinger, who looked a real threat.

Over 27 Hilfenhaus 0-0-0-0-2-1 100-5 - Laxman is looking to be aggressive here, and is even trying to clip the odd outswinger through midwicket. He looks in control of the shot and the swing though when he's on the back foot. He can't beat the field on the leg side, but uses the movement to time through backward point for two, then takes a single to deep cover to take India to three figures.

Over 26 Hauritz 4-1-4-4-0-1 97-5 - This is looking hugely ominous for Australia, because Tendulkar is showing all sorts of good form here, and just appears to be in that matchwinning zone. Hauritz tosses one up outside the off stump, and a giant stride forward gets Tendulkar to the pitch, from where he drives with the turn past mid-on for four. Pure class, and a quick single to mid-on off the next ball takes Tendulkar to 1000 runs in the calendar year, the sixth time he's managed that. He averages over 90 in 2010, which is simply extraordinary. Laxman then drives superbly through the covers for back-to-back boundaries, one off the front foot and one off the back. Hugely expensive over from Hauritz - 14 from it - and suddenly India need just 119 more to win with two batsmen looking in total control.

Over 25 Hilfenhaus 0-0-1-4-1-0 83-5 - So Hilfenhaus to Laxman, and as expected the fast bowler looks to loosen up that back for the batsman by digging one in short straight away. It's a good bouncer which forces Laxman to wriggle out of the way, but he does so and then flicks through midwicket for a single. Tendulkar then opens the face of the bat to run the ball down to third man for four, using the outswing to angle it away. It's a great shot to watch in slow motion, Tendulkar so steady and balanced, eyes right over the ball as he watched it onto the bat, then turned the bat at precisely the right moment.

Over 24 Hauritz 4-0-0-1-W-1 77-5 - Simply exquisite shot from Tendulkar, who gets to the pitch of the ball and clips it wide of mid-on with the absolute minimum of effort. It was all crisp timing, and it was so good that at first it didn't look like it would beat the fielder, yet in the end it just ran away from him all the way to the boundary. WICKET! Just as India were looking in control, Hauritz nabs the nightwatchman Zaheer. The length did the trick there, drawing him forward without being able to get on top of the bounce, and an edge gives Michael Clarke a simple catch at slip. So Zaheer, goes, and in comes VVS Laxman. He's not looking particularly loose - he's been suffering from back spasms - and he brings Suresh Raina with him as a runner. He's off the mark straight away though with a typically elegant flick through midwicket for a single.

Over 23 Hilfenhaus 0-1-0-0-0-0 71-4 - Two more corkers from Hilfenhaus are far too good for Zaheer, and the Indian fast bowler acknowledges as much. Both bent away from the right-hander beautifully - through normal swing in fact, not reverse - and all Zaheer could do was fend tentatively.

Over 22 Hauritz 2-1-0-2-0-1lb 70-4 - Zaheer is looking to play a few shots now, and he drives uppishly through vacant cover for a couple, then pushes out to deep point off the bak foot for a single. Tendulkar does well to get behind one that keeps a bit low, then gets a safe outside edge for two runs. The final delivery turns a long way, but it's short and Tendulkar gets it to fine leg for a leg-bye. India need 146 runs to win.

Over 21 Hilfenhaus 0-0-0-0-0-0 64-4 - Hilfenhaus gets one to jag off the seam and beat Tendulkar all ends up. The rest of the over is just as good, as Hilf gets the ball to swing away - possibly with a bit of reverse-swing. He's bowled really well in these conditions, and is probably as important to this game as Tendulkar is. Certainly it's going to take a pearler to get rid of Tendulkar - who looks to be in a real groove - and Hilfenhaus looks most likely to produce it.

Over 20 Hauritz 0-2-4-1-0-0 64-4 - There's just a small crowd in today, but they find full voice as Tendulkar opens his scoring for the day with two lovely strokes. First a late cut brings him a couple, and then he drives a half-volley past extra cover for four. Australia can't afford such loose deliveries, especially early on when they need to keep the pressure on Tendulkar.

Over 19 Hilfenhaus 2-0-0-0-0-0 57-4 - Of course nightwatchman Zaheer Khan is at the other end, so he takes strike to Hilfenhaus first up. He gets the first runs of the day as he steers one through the gully for a couple, and then gets surprised by the final ball as it rears on him. It beats the outside edge but then hits his shoulder and loops to Ponting's right at second slip. An early indication that the short ball will be dangerous again today.

Over 18 Hauritz 0-0-0-0-0-0 55-4 - Looking at the pitch this morning, Ravi Shastri mentioned that it was much drier and is beginning to break up. But it's still a bit of s surprise to see Nathan Hauritz take the first over of the day. It's a controlled start from him, and there's the odd puff of dust as the ball comes off the surface. Tendulkar is in pure defensive mode to start off with, so it's a maiden.

Giddy Up What was particularly noticeable yesterday was that it was Ben Hilfenhaus - of all bowlers - who managed to exploit some extra bounce yesterday. I know he's no trundler, but with his standard height he's not known for his short ball so if he's able to use the pitch like that then the likes of Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Johnson and even Shane Watson could be a handful today. The batsmen are making their way out to the middle. It's prediction time. I'll back India to sneak home by three wickets after lunch. Anyone who cares to agree/disagree with me can share with the group - tristan.holme@teamtalkmedia.co.za.

Morning Welcome to the final day of a magnificent Test match. It's all perfectly poised - India need 161 runs to win with six wickets in hand, which until yesterday evening looked like it should be fairly simple. Of course 14 wickets fell yesterday as the short ball became a seemingly lethal for the fast bowlers, so India have their work cut out for them, but so long as Sachin Tendulkar is at the crease they'll still be favourites to go one up.

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