Katich and Hussey keep India’s lead down to 86 (Roundup)

November 8th, 2008 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghNagpur, Nov 8 (IANS) India managed a handy lead of 86 runs by bowling out Australia for 355 in the first innings after a hard-fought third day’s play in the fourth and the last Test here at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium Saturday.India had to play out only one over before stumps and opener Virender Sehwag faced Mitchell Johnson calmly without scoring a run, Murali Vijay standing at the other end.

It was a battle of attrition as both teams waited for the other to blink first, particularly in the morning session when the Indian fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan pegged away outside the off stump to a predominantly off-side field, making strokeplay difficult.

Simon Katich completed his century (109) and Mike Hussey failed by ten runs. In a rearguard resistance, Cameron White struck a belligerent 46 to bridge the gap between the scores, chasing India’s 441.

In the entire day, the Australians managed less than two runs an over and only 166 runs came off 85 overs.

Harbhajan Singh finished with three for 94, while Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma picked up two wickets each.

Resuming at the overnight 189 for 2, Australia scored just 42 runs from 24 overs in the morning session as the Indians also played the waiting game. The pace was the same in the post lunch session, when Australia scored 49 runs from 29 overs, but lost the important wickets of vice-captain Michael Clarke (8), Hussey and Shane Watson (2) in the space of 37 deliveries.

The three quick wickets in the post-lunch session left Australia struggling at 280 for six in the first innings at tea, but White and Brad Haddin (28) added some valuable runs to keep India’s lead under the three-figure mark.

The only significant aspect of an excruciating morning session was the century of Katich, his fifth in Tests.

Australia blinked first on resumption, Clarke’s dismissal triggering a mini collapse. Ishant produced a peach of a delivery to end Clarke’s 44-ball stay.

The next wicket came out of the blue, ending Hussey’s 229-ball innings. The left-handed batsman punched off the back foot and took off instinctively for a run, but Murali Vijay at silly point in a reflex action intercepted the ball and flung it to Mahendra Singh Dhoni to break the stumps (265/5).

Eleven deliveries after Hussey departed, Harbhajan cleaned up Watson with one that spun, struck the forearm and rolled on to the off stump.

Katich batted watchfully, but India’s persistence with pace paid off when he fell lbw to Zaheer Khan shortly before lunch ending his 155-run third-wicket stand with Hussey.

But Katich, who missed a hundred by one runs at the old VCA Stadium four years ago, should thank Rahul Dravid this time for his century as the former India captain dropped him off Ishant when he was on 94.

Ishant suffered again with the new ball when he bowled a splendid over to Mitchell Johnson who escaped courtesy V.V.S. Laxman who let a regulation catch go through his hands at second slip.

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