First Test between India and Australia meanders to a draw

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Bangalore, Oct 13 (UNI) Unable to brave the 299-run target to be made in 83 overs, India today drew its first Test against Australia by making 177 for four at close on the fifth and final day of the first Test played at M Chinnaswamy stadium here.

Under murky conditions where sun could not peep out of the thick cloud cover for the whole day, Indians were never in hunt.

They made a disappointing start losing the 'all important' Virender Sehwag (06) in the sixth over, who was hoped to provide a rousing start. Another blow in the departure of Rahul Dravid (05) three overs later put paid to India's plans of a successful chase and forced remaining Indian batsmen go into a huddle.

Gloomy conditions forced umpires to stop play two times after tea as 61 minutes of play was lost. This frustrated the Australians who tried everything including some verbal taunt at the Indian batsmen.

Earlier, Ricky Ponting made a sporting declaration at 228 for six, after the visitors added 35 runs to overnight total. This left India to make 299 in 83 overs on the fifth day's wicket which was not easy. The pitch was offering variable bounce when the ball landed on the widening cracks. But still one hoped that India would go in pursuit of the target which never happened. India had made 360 in their first knock in reply to Australia's first innings score of 430.

India down 77 for three after Gambhir (29) departed, Tendulkar, who made a patient 49 before getting out for a needless shot, shored up the Indian innings. He added 61 runs in 18.1 overs for the fourth wicket with Laxman who remained unbeaten on 42. Earlier Gambhir and Sachin added 55 runs for the third wicket which proved important for India in saving the match.

Tendulkar, short of 77 runs to overtake Brian Lara as the highest scorer in Test cricket but failed to reach it, settled down nicely and kept at bay the Aussie bowlers who tried their best to unsettle the maestro. When looking good for a long innings, he fell driving uppishly into the hands of Michael Clarke at short cover to give Cameroon White his first Test wicket.

The Mumbai batsman would have at least completed 50 half centuries in his illustrious career spanning two decades, had he scored one more run today.

The sizable crowd gave a rousing welcome when Saurav Ganguly arrived at the crease. The former captain, who announced his retirement after this four-Test series, with Laxman halted any further damage. Indians, who were in no mood to take any chances, inched to a score of 177 for four in 73 when the play was called off after the sixth mandatory over.

Zaheer Khan who made an invaluable 57 in the Indian first innings and took six wickets was declared the man of the match.

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