India surge towards victory in Mohali Test (Lead)

October 20th, 2008 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Mohali, Oct 20 (IANS) India were in sight of victory in the second Test as Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma reduced Australia to 141 for five on the fourth day at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here Monday.Set a mammoth target of 516 runs after India closed their second innings at 314 for three, Australia got off to a brisk start, but they soon lost their top-order in a jiffy as their nemesis Harbhajan struck thrice in two overs to raise visions of an India victory inside four days.

However, vice-captain Michael Clarke (42) and wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin (37) saw to it the match went into the fifth day with a plucky unbroken 83-run sixth-wicket stand after the Australians were reduced to 58 for five soon after tea.

The world’s best Test side is now fighting with their backs to the wall, still 375 runs behind and a day to go as their famed batsmen pottered around tentatively.

When Indian openers resumed at 100 this morning, Gautam Gambhir (104) hit his second Test century, his first at home, and Virender Sehwag fell just 10 short of what could have been his 16th.

The two scored runs at a fast clip to clobber 130 runs in the first session before Sehwag edged Peter Siddle to wicketkeeper Haddin to end opening stand at 182.

Then Gambhir and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni carried in the same vein and the Delhi batsman got to his hundred off 138 balls with seven boundaries and one six.

After reaching his century with a four, Gambhir gifted his wicket in search of quick runs as he danced down the track to Cameroon White only to give Hussey a catch at mid-off.

Dhoni, who came in at one drop, accelerated the scoring with a quick-fire unbeaten 68.

With close to five session to survive, Australia started positively with Hayden (29) and Katich hitting eight boundaries in the breezy 49 runs stand.

Hayden, who is woefully out-of-form in the series, was trapped leg before by Harbhajan. The off-spinner then got rid of Simon Katich (20) with the last ball before tea, Sachin Tendulkar taking a brilliant diving catch.

At the other end, fast bowler Ishant Sharma clean bowled skipper Ricky Ponting (2) and trapped Shane Watson (2) leg before. Watson was the highest scorer for Australia in the first innings.

Michael Hussey, who has been the best of Australian batsmen in the series, made the mistake of trying to pull Harbhajan, but the ball kept low to catch him plumb in front.

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