Slow WACA stumps Indians, Aussies

It was touted as a pacer's paradise but a slow WACA pitch has left both the Indian and Australian teams a bit surprised.

updated: January 20, 2008 13:23 IST
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It was touted as a pacer's paradise but a slow WACA has left both the Indian and Australian teams a bit surprised and the two sides say the one-time 'fastest track in the world' is now aiding spinners more than the quickies.

"The pitch has become slow and there is a bit of bounce to go with it," said Indian batting mainstay VVS Laxman after putting the visitors in the driver's seat with a well-timed 79-run knock in the second innings on Friday.

Australian coach Tim Nielsen also agreed and felt the Indians were in a very strong position going into the fourth day as they had a quality spinner in Anil Kumble.

"It has been very hot here, which has made the track dry. It is offering a lot of spin and bounce. India have a quality spinner in their ranks, which makes them all the more challenging on a fourth day track," he said after the world champions ended the day 65-2 chasing a mammoth 413 for a record-breaking 17th straight Test win.

A worried Nielsen said the Australians were banking on skipper Ricky Ponting, who has had an ordinary series so far, to guide the team to the huge target.

"Certainly, to chase down this target is a real challenge and we have a very tough task on our hands. We have to start well tomorrow and (Michael) Hussey and Ponting have to bat really well," he said.

Laxman, meanwhile, could not hide his glee after rescuing the visitors from a precarious 125-5 with some help from the resolute batting by tail-enders.

"We lost wickets in the early session and it was important to build partnerships... rotate the strike. When I was batting with (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni, he understood the situation and played out a fighting knock. RP Singh's effort was equally encouraging," he said.

"We wanted 350-plus and it is nice to have got that especially after the loss of early wickets," he added.

Bowlers from both the sides gave a good account of themselves and both Laxman and Nielsen applauded their effort.

Laxman said, "from the Australian side all of them bowled really well but Brett Lee was superb and I always enjoy playing against him".

"Both the bowling sides did well and the fact that we have a fourth innings at hand within three days of the match just goes on to prove that," said Nielsen.

The Australian coach, however, found it hard to explain slinger Shaun Tait's failure in the match after being described as a "wicket-taking machine" before the start.

"It's his first Test and as I said it's a very tough wicket. But overall he would be pleased with his effort. Today was just a bad day for him," he suggested.