Aussies recover after shock start


MELBOURNE — Australia recovered after the early shock of losing their top three batsmen to Zaheer Khan, to reach 116 for three at stumps on the first day of the second Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) yesterday.

Ricky Ponting will continue on 44 in the morning, and Michael Clarke on 47, needing only another 75 runs to take a first innings lead after they dismissed the visitors for 191 shortly after tea.

Earlier, Australian fast bowler James Pattinson took four wickets, including that of Sachin Tendulkar, to leave India reeling at 178 for eight at tea on the opening day of the second Test yesterday.

Bowling with genuine pace in just his fourth Test, Pattinson took just three balls of the morning to take the wicket of Gautam Gambhir before adding those of the other opener Virender Sehwag and dangermen VVS Laxman and Tendulkar.

Tendulkar came out to a huge ovation and had looked by far the most comfortable Indian batsman before he edged a Pattinson delivery onto his stumps for 41, his quest for a 100th international century destined to continue.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was at the crease on 44 not out looking to wag the tail after Zaheer Khan’s departure for a golden duck brought up the break.

Dhoni, looking for a victory to even up the four-match series after losing the opener by 122 runs last week, had earlier won the toss and elected to bat on a hot, sunny morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

It was, perhaps, a good toss to lose as Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus immediately got some movement out of a pitch with a slight green tinge to it.

Gambhir’s jab at a Pattinson delivery left Michael Clarke with a simple catch at slip, piling more pressure on the opener after a poor run of form.

Rahul Dravid (five), a jittery-looking Sehwag (30) and VVS Laxman (two) quickly followed the left-hander back to the pavillion to leave the tourists languishing on 4-59.

Virat Kohli and Tendulkar combined to ease the crisis around the lunch break before they were separated by a peach of a delivery from Siddle, which Kohli edged to Brad Haddin behind the stumps for 23.

Tendulkar, whose average at the SCG was a shade over an astonishing 221 runs per innings, continued to pick his shots and some of them were sumptuous.

Two cut shots over the cordon for four in particular gave a big crowd their money’s worth.

Back came the irrepressible Pattinson, however, to take the 38-year-old’s wicket and leave India on 124-6.

Dhoni and Ravi Ashwin put on 54 for the seventh wicket before Hilfenhaus finally got reward for his efforts with the wickets of Ashwin (20) and Khan on successive balls to leave the dependable quick on a hat-trick when play resumed.