India start on a cautious note
V V S Laxman battled severe back pain to guide India to a memorable and nail-biting one-wicket victory over Australia in the first Test at Mohali on Tuesday.
The Hyderabad batsman, who somehow reserves his best for the Australians, played a lone hand in India's run chase of 216, scoring an unbeaten 73, as his experienced colleagues fell to poor shot selection and umpiring errors.
Sachin Tendulkar was the second highest Indian scorer with 38 while young Ishant Sharma contributed an invaluable 31 in the Test which went down the wire.India started off on a cautious note, on the fifth and final day. Tendulkar got the innings underway, smashing a boundary off Nathan Hauritz, who opened the bowling.
Ben Hilfenhaus, at the other end, kept things tight, as India struggled to break free from some good bowling and tight fielding.
Overnight batsman Zaheer Khan was the first to go, when he edged one to Michael Clarke in the slips, after putting up a 28-run stand with Tendulkar.
Image: Nathan Haurtiz celebrates with Ricky Ponting after dismissing Zaheer Khan
Bollinger snaps Tendulkar
VVS Laxman came out and looked comfortable in the middle. He announced his arrival with back-to-back boundaries off Hauritz. First, a cover drive, and then a back-foot punch through extra cover.
With Tendulkar for company, the duo added 43 runs in only 6.1 overs and it looked that the hosts were taking control of the proceedings.
But just before the first drinks break of the morning session, Tendulkar tried an ambitious upper-cut off a Bollinger delivery that rose but didn't get required elevation and Mike Hussey took a smart catch at gully.
Tendulkar's wicket was exactly the shot in the arm the Aussies needed.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was run-out for two; he was late in responding to Laxman's runner Suresh Raina's call for a single.
Harbhajan Singh also didn't last long, gloving a Bollinger short ball to Ricky Ponting at second slip.
Image: Doug Bollinger celebrates after dismissing Sachin Tendulkar
Laxman keeps India in the hunt
Meanwhile, Laxman continued to battle it out in the middle and he got good company from Ishant Sharma, who dropped the anchor and ensured that India did not lose wickets.
Laxman, Australia's nemesis for the past decade, played a gem of an innings and soon reached his half-century, which included eight boundaries.
Image: VVS Laxman plays a pull shot
Hilfenhaus provides the twist
With nothing working out for the visitors, Ponting then brought back Hilfenhaus, his ace bowler, back into the attack. He didn't disappoint.
Hilfenhaus got one past the bat and trapped Ishant in front of the stumps. Television replays, however, showed that the ball would have missed the leg-stump.
The duo put on a 76-run stand for the ninth wicket, and kept India's hopes alive for a miraculous win.
With just one-wicket remaining and another 11 runs required for a victory, the Aussies were in with a chance.
Image: Ben Hilfenhaus celebrates after picking up Ishant Sharma
Laxman scripts a memorable win
But Laxman kept his nerve and along with Pragyan Ojha guided India to yet another memorable win against the Aussies.
Both Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson bowled hostile spells, and almost had Ojha, but the umpire turned down a leg-before appeal.
Ojha had yet another closed encounter, when he ran for a non-existent run, but Michael Clarke's throw narrowly missed the stumps, which went for four overthrows.
Ohja stole two leg-byes, which gave India 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
Image: VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma celebrate after winning the match