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banner Sunday, 11 March, 2001, 16:58 GMT
On board the Calcutta rollercoaster
Justin Langer
Our man in form: Justin Langer square cuts a boundary
Australian batsman Justin Langer sends his latest postcard from the tour of India, after he makes 58 in the tourists' 291 for eight on the first day of the second Test.

Fortunes fluctuated at one of the world's great cricket grounds as both teams dominated specific sessions.

At lunch, we were in the perfect position after winning the toss and deciding to bat.

By tea, our confidence was riding high as we took the second break at one for 190.

With Matty Hayden hitting the ball as crisply as Tiger Woods strikes the golf ball and your correspondent feeling ready for a big score, the Aussies looked set for a huge first innings total.

Hayden falls

Unfortunately, the momentum changed to India's favour after the break with our giant opener falling just three runs short of his second consecutive Test century.

In the first over after tea, the loss of our in-form left-hander kicked off one of our worst batting collapses for a long time.

Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh: Hat-trick caused flutters in the Aussie dressing room
After dominating the Indian attack for four hours, he tried one too many blows over the infield, just to see the ball fall into the hands of the out-fieldsman.

If any player deserved another hundred it was 'Haydos', as he is in rare from with the bat.

As I have said before, I could not be more delighted to see my good mate form Queensland making such a strong impression in the Test match arena.

His work ethic is outstanding and his influence within the team is a crucial factor in our success.

He is a phenomenal character who deserves every inch of success coming his way.

While his dismissal should have been a minor setback to the team, it proved a little more dramatic.

Loose exit

A loose shot outside the off stump sent me on my way. An excellent opportunity was lost for yours truly - the second innings will be a chance to make amends.

While I was sitting in the changing room ruing my shot selection, India's young off-spinner Harbajan Singh helped himself to a hat-trick that sent a few flutters through the atmosphere in our viewing area.


It is difficult to put into words the emotion of such an occasion, but I will admit it is as exhilarating and spine-tingling an experience as I am likely to experience
  Justin Langer
Suddenly our stranglehold of day one looked less impressive and our hopes of a daunting first innings score were fading.

With our decorated skipper still at the crease with Jason Gillespie, every run in the morning will be a bonus.

From a subjective viewpoint, while we are disappointed with the final session of play, we are still well and truly in the game.

With just under 300 runs on the board the game is evenly poised at this stage.

Spine-tingling

We would have preferred to be less wickets down at stumps - but then, the Indians would have hoped we had less runs on the scoreboard.

Besides the Boxing Day Test match at the mighty MCG, I have never known atmosphere like we experienced at the infamous Eden Gardens today.

What an incredible experience it was standing in the middle of this fantastic stadium with 80,000 obsessed Indian supporters screaming like excited kids on a rollercoaster ride.

Facing my first ball was like being in another world, as my concentration on the ball was tested by a roar reserved for a Rolling Stones rock concert or an AFL Grand Final.

It is difficult to put into words the emotion of such an occasion, but I will admit it is as exhilarating and spine-tingling an experience as I am likely to experience.

With a picture perfect outfield and flat pitch, Eden Gardens must rate up with Lords and the SCG as the best cricket grounds in the world.

From Calcutta,
JL

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See also:

11 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
Singh hat-trick stuns Aussies
10 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
Waugh's Indian fan club
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