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Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Saturday, 8 November 2008

Aussies shackled by patient India

Fourth Test, Nagpur, day three (close): India 441 & 0-0 v Australia 355
Dates: 6-10 November Start time: 0400 GMT each day
Coverage: Live on Sky Sports. Text commentary on BBC Sport website

By Jamie Lillywhite

Harbhajan Singh strikes
Harbhajan took the wicket of Watson two overs after Hussey was run-out

India lead the final Test at Nagpur by 86 runs after Australia were all out for a ponderous 355 late on day three.

Simon Katich, resuming on 92 with his side 189-2, was dropped at slip but hit a fifth Test century before Zaheer Khan trapped him for 102 before lunch.

The tourists took 354 balls to go from 200-300 and lost three wickets for 11.

Mike Hussey was run-out for 90 and Cameron White hit a Test-best 46, but India look set to protect a 1-0 series lead at 0-0 in the second innings.

A draw would suit India, having won the second Test, but with Australia needing a victory to level the series, their tactics were a little harder to fathom on a day in which both sides appeared content to let the match drift rather aimlessly.

However, runs were not easy to come by for obdurate left-handers Katich and Hussey, given that all but one of the fielders were placed on the off-side and seamers Ishant Sharma and Zaheer made the batsmen reach for the ball wide of the off-stump.

The impressive Vidarbha Cricket Association, with its 45,000 capacity, is situated a considerable distance from the centre of Nagpur with little or no public transport links, and once again there was a disappointingly small crowd.

Mike Hussey falls
India were lifted by the sharp work of Vijay and Dhoni to dismiss Hussey

There was little to entice any newcomers in the first session, but India should have given those present an early wicket when Katich fished at the impressive Sharma, only for Rahul Dravid to fumble a regulation chance to his left at wide first slip.

Katich, dismissed on 99 on the last tour, guided Sharma to the third man boundary to complete his first century in India.

He was on 102 when Sharma had another slice of bad luck, an edge falling fractionally short of VVS Laxman at the second of the two wide slips.

Spin was introduced for the first time half an hour before lunch, but it was a piece of brilliance from Zaheer that made the breakthrough 10 minutes before the interval.

The combative left-arm seamer produced a stunning yorker that swung in to Katich and umpire Aleem Dar decided the ball was so full that it would have gone on to hit.

That session saw only 42 runs from 24 overs but the afternoon was more eventful as two magical moments gave India encouragement that victory is possible as three wickets fell in seven overs.

Sharma bowled an absolute beauty that pitched in the perfect area and moved away to square up Michael Clarke, taking his edge.

Hussey seemed to be booked in for the day, but 10 short of his 10th Test hundred he thought he could safely set off for a run after pushing Harbhajan Singh off the back foot.

Murali Vijay at silly point grabbed the ball one-handed, however, and returned to Mahendra Dhoni, who smartly deflected on to the stumps.


At the start of the evening session, after 102 overs, the ball was changed, but not for a new one, as India were happy to use a weather-beaten object.

Brad Haddin finally showed some intent with consecutive boundaries and an all-run four, but his innings ended on 28 in tame fashion.

Trying to kick away a sharply spinning delivery from Amit Mishra out of the rough from around the wicket, the ball missed the pad, caught the edge of a horizontal bat and was gleefully snaffled at slip by Dravid.

The new ball was finally taken 44 overs after it first became available and Sharma immediately threatened with some sharp inswing to the right-handers.

Jason Krejza was beaten for pace and movement as the ball thudded into his pad, and two balls later an unsettled Mitchell Johnson was dropped at second slip by Laxman.

Finally there was a directive to hit out, but it merely resulted in White and Johnson being caught in the deep and only one over left to bowl at the Indian batsmen.

The Australians will know that wickets are urgently needed on day four if they are to have any hope of salvaging the series.

Katich admitted that his team's innings had not gone according to plan

"Huss (Hussey) and I were pretty content to try and wade it out and reap the rewards later on, but it didn't happen due to both of us getting out," he said. "When that doesn't come off, it doesn't look great."

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see also
Banned Gambhir misses final Test
04 Nov 08 |  Cricket
Ganguly ready for final bow
05 Nov 08 |  India
Australia in India 2008
13 Oct 08 |  Cricket

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