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Kotla Test ends in draw
Published on 2 Nov. 2008 11:39 PM IST
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At the end of the day, the result proved to be irrelevant. India and Australia refused to give an inch as the third Test petered to a draw at the Kotla here, but the Test left a lasting impression with Anil Kumble announcing his retirement from international cricket. Kumble made two astonishing decisions within the space of a few minutes, as India declared their second innings on 208-5 after the Indian captain’s decision to quit flashed on TV screens. The Indian captain bowled four overs in his final spell, not even a reflection on thousands of probing overs he sent down over a glittering 132-Test, 18-year career. Australia’s innings wore on for eight overs before the umpires removed the bails as congratulatory exchanges flooded at Kumble’s favourite Test venue. India’s declaration left Australia with 245 to chase with a little over an hour left in the final session of play, after VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly put the match beyond Australia’s reach with a resolute 63-run sixth wicket stand, keeping their 1-0 lead in the four-Test series intact with the final Test to be played in Nagpur in four days’ time. Cameron White got Sachin Tendulkar out for the second time in the series, but VVS Laxman (59 not out, not dismissed at all in this game), fresh from an unbeaten double hundred in the first essay, and Sourav Ganguly (32 not out), keen to brush aside his failure in the first innings, combined to take India to safety, with their lead having crossed the 200-mark. Sachin Tendulkar’s 47 – he was out for two more to the same bowler for his maiden Test wicket – bore a stark resemblance to his knock in Bangalore. He mixed caution with sporadic doses of aggression for his 120-ball stay, putting on useful stands of 40 with Gautam Gambhir then 52 with Laxman, as India stretched their lead to 229 runs leading into the final session of the game. Michael Clarke’s prediction of only one team trying to force a win was proving to be right until the first session of the final day here. India, resuming on 43-2 after two late strikes on day four, were set back further by wickets from Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson who were aided by appreciable reverse swing on a murky morning at the Kotla. Though you wouldn’t expect Rahul Dravid to fire away, the batsman along with Gautam Gambhir didn’t look in any rush to add to India’s lead. The ploy to present a dead bat to everything didn’t help as Brett Lee sent down a fiercely swinging yorker that crashed into Dravid’s stumps after India had added only 13 to their tally. The arrival of Sachin Tendulkar spruced up the dreary proceedings with his strokeplay, but the fall of Gautam Gambhir again proved to be a stumbling block on harbouring any hopes of speeding up the scoring. Mitchell Johnson, celebrating his 27th birthday, presented himself first-innings double centurion Gambhir’s scalp, after he trapped the left-hander with another swerving in-dipper for 36. But Laxman and Ganguly were solid in the middle, with the former putting on an exhibition of lucid boundaries while the retiring left-hander picked the gaps on the off-side with usual ease. The script had it all: Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman laid the platform for a chance of wrapping up the series, before Australia fought back with remarkable as India were left with batting out the rest of the sessions. However, Anil Kumble’s last stumping was effected by a wicketkeeper. He did it himself.

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