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Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Tuesday, 12 October 2010 13:08 UK

India hold edge against Australia as thriller looms

Second Test, Bangalore, day four (close):
Australia 478 & 202-7 v India 495
Match scorecard

Pragyan Ojha (L) and Harbhajan Singh (second right)
India's players celebrate after Habhajan strikes

By Oliver Brett

India will go into the final day of the Bangalore Test in a good position to push for a win and wrap up the series 2-0 against Ricky Ponting's Australia.

Despite losing their last five wickets for nine runs, India made 495 in their first innings for a lead of 17.

But spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha got to work as Australia then slid from 58-0 to 131-5.

Ponting hit a fine 72 but fell lbw to Zaheer Khan and at stumps Australia led by a tantalising 185 on 202-7.

After the first Test in Mohali finished in a thrilling climax, India reaching a victory target of 216 with only one wicket standing, there is every indication Wednesday could produce something similar.

Australia enjoyed a good morning session on day four after India had resumed on 435-5 with their eyes set on a sizeable first innings lead.

But, in similar circumstances to what nevertheless proved an ultimately successful formula in the first Test, they suffered a lower-order collapse to turn a potential bore draw into an enthralling spectacle.


Sachin Tendulkar duly completed his double-century, extending his overnight 191 to 214 before a rare error of flat-footed judgement found him steering a ball of full length outside off stump into his stumps. It was the 37-year-old's sixth double but first in India for 10 years.

The wicket was a maiden strike for debutant Peter George, and the tall paceman also removed Zaheer after Harbhajan had been caught by bat and pad off a reverse-swinger from Shane Watson.

Without Tendulkar India were rudderless, and a frustrating 30 off 87 balls from Mahendra Dhoni was ended when he lunged at Nathan Hauritz and was caught at slip.

Hauritz, suddenly under some pressure to make sure of his Ashes spot, had to wait until his 40th over to take a wicket, and three balls later had his second, ending India's innings by swiftly sending Sreesanth on his way.

Beginning their second innings straight after lunch, Australia's openers Watson and Simon Katich prospered against seam to put on 58 in tandem and push the tourists into the lead.

But the harsher examination was always likely to come through spin on a wicket now dry enough to offer them genuine encouragement.

Michael Clarke
In his four innings in the series, Clarke's best score was 14

Watson fell to a tight but fair lbw decision given by umpire Ian Gould from an Ojha delivery that slid on without spinning.

Katich then feathered an edge off Harbhajan which was well held by Dhoni before the out-of-form Clarke fell softly.

A missed defensive push at Ojha should have resulted in little drama, except that Australia's vice-captain had failed to keep his back foot behind the crease and Dhoni had the bails off in a flash to complete a stumping.

Ponting's big slice of luck came on 21, when umpire Billy Bowden rejected an excellent Harbhajan lbw appeal, though it was a defendable decision on the grounds that the Aussie skipper had made a big stride forward.

The other umpire, Ian Gould, did not allow Michael Hussey such a liberty however, and what made his decision worse was that Ojha's delivery was spinning past leg stump when the left-hander was struck in front of middle.

Australia looked in a bleak position when Harbhajan turned a beauty past Marcus North's prod, knocking back his off-stump.

But Ponting, in a sure-footed 50-run stand with Tim Paine, recovered plenty of lost initiative. That was until Dhoni, asking Zaheer and Sreesanth to find reverse swing, switched back to his fast bowlers.

Zaheer supplied a huge breakthrough as a ball of yorker length thudded into Ponting's pads, replays suggesting it would have just clipped off-stump.

Sreesanth finally struck for the first time in the match when Paine's outside edge was held by Dhoni but without the injured Mohali hero VVS Laxman to marshal their final-day run chase India may yet encounter difficulties on Wednesday.

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see also
Tendulkar racks up 49th Test ton
11 Oct 10 |  Cricket
Tendulkar reaches Test milestone
10 Oct 10 |  Cricket
Ponting denied ton as India rally
09 Oct 10 |  Cricket
Laxman sees India to dramatic win
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Watson hits two centuries in draw
27 Sep 10 |  Cricket
Yuvraj dropped from India squad
20 Sep 10 |  India
Australia call for teen Hazlewood
02 Sep 10 |  Australia
Australia in India 2010
24 Oct 10 |  Cricket

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