Century-maker Clarke frustrates India

November 1st, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) Virender Sehwag claimed his first five-wicket haul in Tests even as butter-fingered Indian fielders dropped sitters to allow Australia narrow down the gap with India’s huge first innings score of 613 for seven decalared at tea on the fourth day of the third cricket Test at Feroz Shah Kotla here Saturday.Michael Clarke (101 batting), smiled his way with the gifts showered on him by the benevolent hosts as he reached his eighth Test hundred, while giving him company was Brett Lee, carrying Australia to 539 for seven at tea. Australia now trail by a mere 74 runs.

Clarke was dropped thrice during his five-hour long innings, twice off Sehwag’s (5-104) successive overs in the post-lunch session as he and Cameron White, who scored a tenacious 44, stitched a 106-run stand.

First it was V.V.S. Laxman, who turned 34 Saturday, dropped a sitter from Clarke when he was on 91. As if it was not enough Amit Mishra dropped another dolly at square-leg boundary in Sehwag’s next over, with Australian vice-captain on 94. Clarke’s first life was courtesy Ishant Sharma in the fourth over of the morning when he was on 21 and still searching for his first run of the day.

But the dropped chances failed to demoralise Sehwag who immediately after the two dropped chances, clean bowled White, as if to make a statement to the fielders.

Clarke went on get his hundred just before tea off 219 balls in five hours and it included six fours and one six.

Other than the dropped chances, there was not much action on the field in the session as Indian spinner tried hard to get some purchase from the wicket, which now looks easier to bat, compared to Friday when it had an encouraging turn and bounce for spinners.

Anil Kumble and Mishra bowled round the wicket to pitch the ball on the rough patches and get turn but could not trouble Clarke and White much.

Kumble returned with heavily bandaged injured fingers to take his first wicket of the series. His returned in the 14th over of the day.

The Indian captain, who required 10 stitches on his left little finger, showed courage despite his non-bowling fingers being heavily strapped. On the third day, Kumble injured his finger while attempting a difficult catch of Matthew Hayden in the post lunch session and had to be rushed to the hospital. He could not field for the rest of the day.

The Indian skipper’s return brought luck for India as Sehwag struck from the other end, removing Watson.

Sehwag, who has been turning the ball a long way and took three Australian wickets Friday, struck after Clarke and Watson scored at a fast clip scoring 57 runs in the first hour.

The part-time spinner turned the ball from outside the off to clip Watson’s leg stump.

Kumble, who bowled nine overs on the trot, took a blow on the injured hand but claimed the wicket of Brad Haddin in the same over, stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

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