CRICKET: Dravid's Choice Hands Initiative to Australia ; India 22-2 V Australia

Article excerpt

"OH, NO!" roared the headline on the front page of Bombay's afternoon newspaper. It might have been a reference to Rahul Dravid's decision to bat first under sultry skies and upon a pitch as green as a contented frog. It might have been the coach's comment on seeing the shots, essayed by his senior opening batsman, during the course of a brief contribution on the first day of this final Test. In fact it was merely a reaction to events in the United States of America.

India did not enjoy their 49 minutes of batting spread over two rain- free periods. Having lost Shane Warne for a month, the Australians felt obliged to play Nathan Hauritz, a much travelled off-spinner from Queensland who averaged 63 (with the ball) in last season's interstate matches. Hauritz shed tears as Glenn McGrath presented him with his baggy green cap. He has become the 390th man to play Test cricket for Australia.

Play did not start until after lunch, with Virender Sehwag at his most haphazard, wafting away like a madman drawing pictures in the air. He might have been held at gully as he drove at McGrath without any foot movement. But, then, the feet are merely the brains at work.

Undeterred, he flirted away from his body and managed to steer the ball through the narrowest of gaps in the slips. If warning bells were ringing in his head, he showed no sign of hearing them. All too soon he drove loosely at an off-cutter that broke back through the yawning gap left between bat and pad. …