The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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At play: hope versus history
- Over to Batsmen after birthday boy sweats and strikes

Chennai, Oct. 17: There is hope but there is also that hint of caution ahead of the final day. History does not rule in India's favour and the Australians are drawing inspiration from that as well as Shane Warne's exploits in the first innings.

Never before has any team successfully chased more than 155 at the Chepauk, the target India achieved during their series-winning effort against the same opposition in 2001. The hosts still need to get 210 to win the second Test, being 19 for no loss at stumps on Day IV, but Sourav Ganguly is being positive and pragmatic.

'We have to apply ourselves' we've got to bat well. That will be the key,' the Team India captain told The Telegraph.

For most of a hot and humid day of slow-burning tension, Damien Martyn threatened to take the match away with his superb 104, but Anil Kumble put the smile back on Sourav's face in the end.

The leg-spinner, who turned 34 today, finished with six for 133 ' a match haul of 13 for 181 ' as India managed to restrict the lead to 228.

Kumble sounded confident of India's chances. 'The wicket is on the slower side. It has gone slow with not much bounce either. The target is achievable,' he said.

The leg-spinner added: 'The first session has been good for batsmen on all the four days. If we get a good start and are well-placed at lunch, we should make it comfortably.'

The performance of the batsmen in the first innings here has made Kumble and the rest of the players upbeat about the chances. 'Our batsmen have played well here and in the past in these sort of conditions and there's no reason why we cannot repeat the same,' Kumble said.

When someone asked him if he thought this to be a perfect birthday present, he said: 'Bowling 47 overs in this heat! No, no' It was a tough day.'

His performance, though, has left him pretty satisfied. 'It's really good to come up with such a show against the No. 1 team in the world. After being 0-1 down in the series, we've come across a good chance to win this Test.

'Even before this Test got underway, I had said that if we had to get 200-odd on the fifth day, we should go for it. It's a good opportunity and we should not let it go,' he said.

Martyn, who was involved in a 139-run partnership for the fifth wicket with nightwatchman Jason Gillespie, felt the pressure would be on India. 'History shows it will be tough to chase. The target has been a fighting one but we definitely wanted to put some more runs on the board. It will be difficult to handle Warne on this wicket and the way he has been bowling, it will not be easy for India,' Martyn said.

However confident the visitors might be, Sourav and his boys have this knack of rewriting history. Maybe, tomorrow will be another such day.

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