India hoping history repeats itself against Australia

Reuters
Jan 03, 2008 at 08:02pm IST

Sydney: India are hoping that history will repeat itself after staging a brave fightback in the second Test against Australia on Thursday.

Vangipurappu Laxman and Rahul Dravid rekindled memories of their past heroics against Australia with an inspiring 175-run partnership on the second day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Laxman made a stylish 109 and Dravid a determined 53 to guide the tourists out of immediate danger to 216-3 at stumps in reply to Australia's 463.

SUBLIME TOUCH: Laxman plays a shot during the second day's play of the second Test against Australia.

They still have a long way to go but Laxman said the Indians were suddenly back into the match and had the self-belief they could win just a week after their 337-run loss in Melbourne.

"It's really balanced well but it's very important how we start off tomorrow morning," Laxman told a news conference.

"If we can build a big partnership we can have a big first innings total and put pressure on the Aussies."

Laxman and Dravid have a habit of saving their best for the Australians and their performances on Thursday brought back happy memories from the past.

Laxman has scored five centuries against Australia and the pair famously shared a magnificent 376-run partnership in the "Miracle of Calcutta" win in 2001 as well as a 303-run stand in Adelaide two years later.

"It's always a satisfying thing for any cricketer to do well against the best team in the world," Laxman said.

"For me, I'm very, very pleased that I have been able to do consistently well against them in some very tough situations so I want to carry that on."

Fighting knock

Although he scored twice as many runs as his partner, Laxman was full of praise for Dravid's display.

The makeshift opener has been struggling for form but held the Australians at bay for more than four hours to reach a dogged half-century.

"Although Rahul wasn't timing the ball well I was very pleased that he played a fighting knock. That shows a lot about his character," Laxman said.

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"The important thing is not how many runs we scored individually but that we had a good partnership."

Brett Lee, who scored 59 with the bat then clean bowled Wasim Jaffer with a swinging full toss at the start of the Indian innings, said the Australians were greatly relieved to dismiss Laxman and Dravid in the last hour before stumps.

"They were very crucial wickets right at the end there. They were both batting beautifully, especially Laxman. I thought he played a fantastic innings today," Lee said.

"He has got this habit of scoring hundreds at the SCG. I've always held him in the highest respect as a player and a person and when Laxman gets going, he normally scores big hundreds."

Lee said the two late wickets had swung the balance back Australia's way but the key was getting rid of Sachin Tendulkar cheaply when play resumes on Friday.

Tendulkar reached stumps unbeaten on nine but made a double-century in Sydney four years ago and once again looms as the dangerman with the pitch still favouring the batsmen.

"Tendulkar is, if not the best batsman in the world, he's definitely in the top two or three," Lee said. "He's a brilliant player, so I'll have to make sure we tie him up."

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