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Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

India duo punish Australia attack

Third Test, Delhi: India 613-7d v Australia 50-0 (day two, stumps)
Dates: 29 October-2 November Start time: 0400 GMT each day
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

By Oliver Brett

Gautam Gambhir and Brett Lee
Gautam Gambhir is applauded by Brett Lee after reaching 200

Gautam Gambhir (206) and VVS Laxman (200 not out) put themselves in the record books before India declared on 613-7 in the third Test in Delhi.

It was the first time two Indians had scored double centuries in a Test innings and the first time it had ever happened against an Australian side.

Gambhir struck 26 fours and a six while Laxman weighed in with 21 boundaries.

Australia's openers replied with 50-0 on a wicket which was beginning to take an ominous amount of spin.

India, who lead the four-match series 1-0, began day two in the luxurious position of having 296 runs on the board with seven wickets in hand.

Australia desperately needed a big morning session but instead Ricky Ponting looked on helplessly as Gambhir and Laxman helped themselves.

Laxman, resuming on 54, began the day as the more dominant partner, advancing his score smartly with pulls, cuts and the odd drive too.

Gambhir quickly added the single to take him to 150 - the first such score of his career - and though he was slightly more circumspect than Laxman he also threw in one or two elegant strokes against the spinners.

Gambhir enjoyed a life on 176, Matthew Hayden failing to get a hand on a tough chance at slip off the bowling of Cameron White.

Laxman spent some nervous moments on 99 before collecting his sixth Test century against Australia and the 13th of his career with a cover-drive for four off White.

It was the perfect riposte to those who had recently called his place in the side into question.

"The doubting Thomases are in the media or people outside the team. The team management and selectors always gave me confidence," he said.

Lunch was taken with the scoreboard on 393-3, with Gambhir on 191 and Laxman 104.

Already worth 139 overnight, the partnership was not ended until an hour after lunch, by which time they had added 278 in all - making it the best partnership in a Test in Delhi.

Gambhir had become the first left-handed opener from any country to hit a double-hundred against Australia, and his score equalled the previous record by an Indian opener against the Aussies.

Ravi Shastri had made 206 in Sydney against Allan Border's team in 1991-92 and was one of those watching at the Feroz Shah Kotla when a tired Gambhir eventually departed.

The 27-year-old, born and raised locally and a star of the Delhi Daredevils, had been at the crease for nine and a half hours before clipping Shane Watson onto his stumps.

And the Queensland all-rounder, towards the end of an impressive spell, added the wicket of Mahendra Dhoni for 27 after seeing Laxman dropped by Brad Haddin off his bowling on 134.

VVS Laxman
Laxman has maintained a wonderful record against Australia
If there was a quantum of solace for the Australians it was in seeing the back of the ebullient Indian wicketkeeper, who after taking 14 off one Simon Katich over had looked in the mood for a big score.

But India batted on remorselessly. Either side of tea, Laxman featured in a 98-run stand with Anil Kumble, who provided entertainment of his own with a knock of 45.

Laxman went from 168 to 176 in two balls, first nonchalantly flicking Mitchell Johnson for four past mid-on and then playing the most delicate of late cuts for yet another boundary.

Kumble was eventually trapped lbw to become Johnson's third victim of the innings, and all that was left was for Laxman to reach 200 before the inevitable declaration came.

When Katich and Hayden came out to bat, there was no conventional swing for either Zaheer Khan or Ishant Sharma to exploit - and no time for them to find any reverse.

There were 16 overs available and Kumble - with an outstanding record on this ground - bowled four of them.

But he was hit for successive boundaries by Katich, and it was the other leg-spinner - Amit Mishra - who looked more dangerous, having one close shout for lbw against Katich rejected.

He was on 29 at stumps, with Hayden on 16, but their side still faces a massive task to avoid a defeat which would also give India a series victory.

"It's a huge task for the Australians. One or two quick wickets will definitely put a lot of pressure on them. Defending for the next three days will be a Herculean task," Laxman commented.

Australia seam bowler Stuart Clark said their approach would be to play the match session by session.

"We're 0-50 and playing pretty well. I don't think it [the pitch] holds that many demons at the moment," he said.

"We want to post a reasonable total tomorrow, bat again on the next day and see what happens."

Meanwhile, Australia all-rounder Watson was fined 10% of his match fee for breaching the ICC's Code of Conduct by verbally abusing Gambhir.

Gambhir faces a more serious charge of elbowing the Australian in the incident and will find out his disciplinary fate on Friday. He could be fined up to 50% or receive a ban.

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see also
Gambhir ton makes Australia toil
29 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Australia in India 2008
13 Oct 08 |  Cricket

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