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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 10:13 GMT
India dent Australia record hopes
Third Test, Perth: India 330 & 294 v Australia 212 & 65-2 (stumps, day three)

VVS Laxman maintained his superb record against the Aussies
VVS Laxman maintained his superb record against the Aussies

Australia face a tall order to win a world-record 17th consecutive Test after ending day three in Perth on 65-2, chasing 413 for victory.

India were in trouble when Stuart Clark (4-61) and Brett Lee (3-54) profited on a bouncy pitch to reduce them to 160-6.

After Virender Sehwag (43) went, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly all fell cheaply before lunch.

But VVS Laxman hit 79 to help boost the total to 294, before Irfan Pathan removed Chris Rogers and Phil Jaques.

Rogers edged behind one that nipped away off the seam and his fellow opener drove a swinging delivery to Wasim Jaffer at fourth slip.

Captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey prevented any further damage.

And much will now depend on that duo, who are ranked third and fourth in the world, if the hosts are to move beyond the 16 straight victories Steve Waugh's Aussies achieved between 1999 and 2001.

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But on a surface also offering turn, the odds are against them making the second highest successful fourth-innings score in Test history - only West Indies, who hit 418 to beat them in Antigua in 2003 have scored more.

If they fail, Ponting's men will again rue the efforts of Laxman, who maintained his terrific record against them by passing the 1,000-run mark in Australia.

The 33-year-old right-hander made a double century when India won in Calcutta in 2001 to end the run of Waugh's team and another big hundred when the Indians triumphed in Adelaide in 2003.

He produced a typical knock combining patience and elegant strokeplay to rescue his team after Clark and Lee ripped through the top and middle orders.

Sehwag had added only 14 to his overnight score when he was clean bowled by Clark for 43 and Dravid was caught behind off a short-pitched Lee delivery in the next over for three.

Stuart Clark profited on a bouncy pitch to take four wickets
Clark profited on a bouncy Waca pitch to take four wickets

The express paceman also bagged the prize wicket of Tendulkar, who played outside the line and was lbw for 13, while Ganguly edged Mitchell Johnson to Michael Clarke at first slip to depart for a third-ball duck.

When stubborn night-watchman Pathan (46) was snapped up at first slip by Ponting to give Clark his third wicket, India were effectively 278-6 and with plenty of work to do.

However, Mahendra Dhoni (38) finally played an innings of note in this series to help arrest the decline by adding 75 with Laxman.

The wicket-keeper scored only five off his first 43 balls but then accelerated to crash Clarke over long-on and Andrew Symonds over long-off for sixes.

He fell just before tea, when the ball flicked off his bat handle and Adam Gilchrist took a diving catch behind the stumps off Symonds, who saw Anil Kumble edge to Clarke at slip four balls later and make it 235-8.

Laxman remained a big obstacle for the hosts, surviving on 59 when Clarke could not hold on after he had edged Lee to second slip, to add a further 51 with RP Singh (30).

The tail-ender struck some lusty blows, including a smeared six off Symonds, before Clark ended his defiance with a snorter which was gloved behind.

Laxman edged Lee behind trying to force the pace but Pathan's strikes left India with a great chance of reducing their series deficit to 2-1 with one more Test to come.


  • Australia coach Tim Nielsen:
    "It's an achievable result for us. We feel as though we've got the quality of batsmen.

    "The good thing is the wicket's still in pretty good shape, the outfield's fast and we've seen that if batsmen get in they find it easier to score.

    "If you can create partnerships it puts the pressure back on the bowling team and that's what we're hoping to achieve. We took a lot of confidence from how India batted."

  • India batsman VVS Laxman:
    "They will be under a lot of pressure on Saturday, trying to get 350 runs in the fourth innings.

    "The way we bowled in the evening is very encouraging and it will definitely put their batsmen under pressure and have them thinking.

    "There is some inconsistent bounce and Anil [Kumble] will have a big role to play after the seamers."

    SEE ALSO
    Australia v India photos
    18 Jan 08 |  Cricket
    India on top as Aussies struggle
    17 Jan 08 |  Cricket
    Lee thwarts India's strong start
    16 Jan 08 |  Cricket
    India in Australia 2007-08
    06 Jan 08 |  Cricket


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