Three quick wickets put Australia on backfoot (Tea Report)

November 8th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Nagpur, Nov 8 (IANS) Three quick wickets in the post-lunch session left Australia struggling at 280 for six in the first innings, chasing India’s 441, at tea on the third day of the fourth and the last Test match at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here Saturday.Brad Haddin and Cameron White were batting on seven runs each when the umpires called for tea Australia trailing by 161.

After a frustrating first session in which Australia scored a painstaking 42 runs in 24 overs, the Indian bowlers struck in the second.

Resuming at the overnight 189/2, Australia scored just 42 runs from 24 overs in the morning session as the Indians also played a waiting game pegging away outside the off-stump.

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), Mike Hussey (90) and Shane Watson (2) in the space of 37 deliveries.

The only significant aspect of morning session’s play was the century of Simon Katich (109), his fifth in Tests.

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

The next wicket was 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 off stump.

Katich (102) 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 same venue four years ago, should thank the Indian fielders for his century. When he was on 94, Ishant Sharma forced him to play away from the body and Rahul Dravid spilled an easy chance at first slip.

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