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Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Sunday, 12 October 2008 12:33 UK

Australian pair dent Indian hopes

FIRST TEST, Bangalore (stumps, day four):
Australia 430 & 193-5 v India 360

Dates: 9-13 October Start time: 0500 BST each day
Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website

By Oliver Brett

India's fielders appealing
India's fielders appeal as the tension builds on day four in Bangalore

Aussies Shane Watson and Brad Haddin shared a vital partnership late on the fourth day in Bangalore to stifle a resurgent India in the first Test.

With just six caps between them, the pair came in with the pressure on the tourists for the first time as they slid uncertainly from 99-2 to 128-5.

But an unbroken 65-run stand saw Australia's lead stretch to a healthy 263 as they reached stumps on 193-5.

The Aussies start day five as the likeliest team to get a result.

Queensland all-rounder Watson ended the day on 32, while New South Wales wicketkeeper Haddin was unbeaten on 28. Their stand looks to have ensured India will not break their 13-year wait for Test success at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

It was a fascinating final hour as India's bowlers threw everything they could at two right-handers who had played in just three Tests each before this one.

Neither had been picked as a specialist batsman, but they produced the sort of grit and application that has characterised wearers of the baggy green for generations.

There were one or two dicey moments - and two within a single delivery when Haddin was almost run out after Zaheer Khan could not believe umpire Rudi Koertzen had declined an lbw appeal.

But Watson and Haddin were rewarded for positive intent, much as Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan had been on the third evening.

Plan A for Australia at the start of the day was to wrap up India's tail.

What began as an irritant when Harbhajan and Zaheer launched into the second new ball on Saturday ascended into a major migraine for Ricky Ponting and his bowlers by the time stumps were drawn on the third evening with India on 313-8.

Simon Katich
Katich played a patient hand before he was undone by Harbhajan

In the circumstances, to allow Zaheer to go from an overnight 35 to finish unbeaten on 57 - while dismissing Anil Kumble and Ishant Sharma for five and six respectively - was not a total disaster.

But with India all out for 360, Australia's lead was a thin one at 70, and vastly reduced from what it looked likely to be when India's seventh wicket had fallen on 232.

The pitch, which seemed to spring to life on the third morning, was in slumber mode again - but Australia's batsmen were not prepared to take risks when their second innings began shortly before lunch.

Resuming after the interval on 9-0, opening pair Simon Katich and Matthew Hayden continued to tick along in second gear, until Hayden was removed lbw by Zaheer for 13.

Umpire Asad Rauf gave the left-hander out after lengthy consideration of the evidence which included Hayden - batting well out of his crease anyway - taking a big stride down the ground to a swinging delivery.

By then, Harbhajan was into his first spell, finding more turn and zip than he had at any stage in the first two days. Katich was dropped by Gautam Gambhir at short leg on just five, while Ponting survived a huge appeal for a catch at leg slip.

Koertzen correctly declined that one, for there was no inside edge onto the pad, but Ponting - despite clouting one delivery over mid-on for four - never really settled and might have been bowled by an off-break which fizzed directly over middle stump.

Finally, he gave away his wicket unexpectedly on 17 - hitting a moderate delivery from Sharma to midwicket - and Katich had to go about building a third partnership.


He and Michael Hussey took the score along to 74-2 at tea, a lead of 144, and continued to grind away until an eventful Harbhajan over 40 minutes into the final session transformed the match.

Katich - whose innings of 34 came from 140 balls - drove one delivery confidently over mid-off for four but was sucked into pushing at a top-spinner outside off-stump next ball. VVS Laxman took an easy catch at silly point.

Michael Clarke was confident enough to drive his first ball wide of mid-off for four but he was not good enough to read Sharma's slower ball and holed out at extra cover.

Hussey, who was threatening to come out of his shell, was now caught between two stools - and his decision to leave a Harbhajan top-spinner was fatal.

Bowled from around the wicket, the ball skidded onto his stumps, and Watson and Haddin were thrown together with much still to be done.

Before his dismissal of Katich, Harbhajan's enthusiasm was draining, now he was as eager as a toddler on a steam train.

But Watson and Haddin opted to play brightly, and consequently scored quickly, though the pitch was getting lively again and India seemed poised to strike once more.

Troubled by a shoulder injury, Kumble entered the attack belatedly, and was unable to provide Harbhajan with the strong support he needed.

see also
Johnson blows leave India adrift
11 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Australia in India 2008
09 Apr 08 |  Cricket

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