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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 10:04 GMT
Lee thwarts India's strong start
Third Test, Perth, India 297-6 v Australia (stumps, day one):

By Oliver Brett

Brett Lee
Lee's wickets gave Australia the edge on day one in Perth

India crumbled from the strong position of 198-2 to end day one of the third Test on a rocky 297-6 as Brett Lee's 3-64 trumped Rahul Dravid's 93.

Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar (71) put on 139 on a Perth wicket lacking the express pace predicted, but India squandered the initiative late on.

The critical moment came when Dravid threw his wicket away as he attempted a wild shot against Andrew Symonds' spin.

VVS Laxman was undone by the second new ball and India were in trouble.

Wednesday's play marked the resumption of the series that had descended into bitter acrimony after Australia won a 16th consecutive Test on 6 January.

But the day's play passed off without much incident - although Tendulkar's lbw dismissal was debatable.

We'd have taken four down for 300 - that would have made us really happy

Rahul Dravid

Dravid spoke to umpires Asad Rauf and Billy Bowden because the Australian bowlers were rushing through their overs to try and counter a slow over rate but had no complaints.

"They played it tough like they usually do," he said of the home side.

"They ran in hard right through the day. They were competitive and it was played in very good spirit."

Lee, who said he had a number of friends in the Indian side, said both sides were well-behaved.

"It was played in the right spirit. Today was a lot of fun, there was a few jokes cracked out there, both teams were laughing," he said.

"It was hard, tough cricket and that is what cricket is all about."

India won the toss and decided not to select spinner Harbhajan Singh - at the centre of all the controversy after being banned for three matches for a racist slur against Symonds.

With his appeal due to be heard at the end of January, he would have been entitled to take his place in the side but he tourists instead opted for an extra fast bowler in Irfan Pathan.

606: DEBATE
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Opening batsman Virender Sehwag, handed his first cap of the series in place of Yuvraj Singh, played a range of speculative shots off Lee and Johnson.

He hit six fours in all before trying one cut shot too many and edging Johnson to Adam Gilchrist.

With Sehwag gone for 29, the Aussies gained the upper hand when Wasim Jaffer (16) pushed tentatively forward to Lee, giving Gilchrist another easy catch.

It was the fifth time in five innings in the series that Lee had sent the Indian opener back to the pavilion.

India were 74-2 at lunch but enjoyed an ideal middle session through Dravid and Tendulkar, as the pair put on a further 103 runs without being parted.

Rahul Dravid celebrated his half-century with a punch
Rahul Dravid celebrated his half-century with a defiant punch

Dravid had fortune on his side on 11, when Michael Clarke, fielding at first slip in place of the injured Matthew Hayden, spilled a regulation edge off Lee.

With the ball getting softer, and Australia having selected their first all-seam attack in 16 years, it was an expensive error.

Tendulkar had one moment of fortune when the slower pace of Symonds defeated his defensive push and rapped him on the pads.

Umpire Rauf gave the batsman the benefit of the doubt, though replays suggested the ball might have clipped the top of middle stump.

However Lee hit back with a brilliant over at Tendulkar, and the fourth ball earned him the prized wicket of India's number four.

It was not the greatest lbw decision though, as Tendulkar was hit just outside off-stump above the knee roll.

Sourav Ganguly lasted just 12 balls before spearing Johnson to gully, where Michael Hussey dived to his right to take a fine catch, and with the score 214-4 Australia were in decent shape again.

It was a very good wicket to bowl on and a very good wicket to bat on

Brett Lee

With solid support coming from Laxman, Dravid went to 90 with a sweep off Symonds for four but with half an hour left in the day attempted a slog across the line in the same bowler's next over.

He was through the shot too early and the ball spiralled up to mid-off where Ponting took a simple catch.

Laxman (27) rashly attempted to pull Lee, who was bowling with the second new ball, giving another easy catch for mid-off and all India's hard work had gone to waste.

For Australia, Chris Rogers was making his Test debut, replacing Hayden, while Shaun Tait - playing his first Test since September 2005 - came in for spinner Brad Hogg.

Paceman Tait was disappointing, and Symonds and Clarke ended up sharing 16 overs.

India must try to bat as long as possible on Thursday through Mahendra Dhoni and the tail, with temperatures set to soar even further - highs of 43C are predicted.


  • India's Rahul Dravid:

    "We'd have taken four down for 300, that would have made us really happy, but we have to look at the positives.

    "There were some good performances through the day, people showed a lot of character.

    "We've still got some batting left so hopefully the lower order can contribute a little bit and we can get to 400, which is probably what we would have hoped for at the start of the game."

    On his dismissal:

    "The shot was on. I had played the same shot earlier. When you connect it looks OK but when you don't it looks pretty stupid."

  • Australia's Brett Lee:
    "The wicket wasn't as fast as everyone thought it might be but it was still a very good wicket to bowl on and a very good wicket to bat on as Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid proved.

    "To finish the day's play knowing we've got those three out makes it a pretty good day for us. It was very warm out there. We need to make sure we get a good night's rest and take some early wickets tomorrow."

    SEE ALSO
    Harbhajan free to play in Tests
    14 Jan 08 |  Cricket
    India withdraw Hogg abuse charge
    14 Jan 08 |  Cricket
    India withdraw tour quit threat
    12 Jan 08 |  Cricket
    Australia equal Test wins record
    06 Jan 08 |  Cricket
    India in Australia 2007-08
    06 Jan 08 |  Cricket


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