Mohali: A flurry of wickets at the end of the day’s play saw India being wrapped-up at 405 runs, 23 short of the Aussie total. With three days play over and the wicket still holding good, it was up to the spinners to make a contest out of the Test.
India were crawling past the 400 run-mark, matching the Australian effort as injured VVS Laxman and Pragyan Ojha battled it out after the departure of Suresh Raina (86). They could not however, manage to go past the visitors’ first innings total.
Harbhajan Singh came in quick and departed as soon, being engulfed by Mitchell Johnson for a duck. The fall of the seventh Indian wicket came at a juncture when the total was nearing 400 and only a few overs remained, hinting at a possible draw to start the rubber.
Tragedy struck the Indian dressing room as Sachin Tendulkar, who was en-route to another sublime century, was out LBW just two runs before the ton, falling prey to Marcus North’s well disguised turner.
Suresh Raina, in the meanwhile, understood the need to shift gears and play the main role while skipper MS Dhoni set his eye-in. He was solid in his batting during the day, crafting a fine fifty. However, Dhoni had a lapse of concentration at the turf, resulting in his departure at a score of fourteen runs.
Doug Bollinger was the only bounty hunter for the Aussies, striking for the second time in the day to get the vital breakthrough in the form of Rahul Dravid’s scalp. The batsman was caught by Tim Paine at a score of seventy seven runs.
‘The Wall’ Rahul Dravid proved why he was the mainstay of the Indian Test side with his 59th half-century.
Ishant Sharma was the first casualty of the morning as he was clean bowled by Bollinger for a score of eighteen runs. The fall brought Tendulkar to the crease, who was given a loud cheer from the crowd.
On the previous day, Sehwag and Gambhir gave India a fine start as they put on a breezy 81-run opening stand. From the outset Sehwag looked menacing, took all the Australian bowlers to the cleaners but when he was all set to guide India out of danger Mitchell Johnson induced him into a false shot which went straight to the cover. Sehwag made 59 off just 54 balls with the help of 10 hits to the fence.
Gambhir, however, fell leg before to an in-cutter from Johnson for 25.
India had finished the day at 110/2.