Spinners put India on top at end of Day 4

Zeecric Bureau

New Delhi: A superb show by the Indian bowlers, especially the spinners, helped India wreck Australian second innings, setting an ideal platform for a tough fifth-day battle between the two teams.

Australia ended Day 4 at 202/7, a lead of 185 runs. The Australians, after dismissing India for 495, started off aggressively as they raced to 50 in no time.

But spinners again gave India early breakthroughs as Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh removed both the openers in consecutive overs.

First, Ojha dismissed Shane Watson (31) LBW. Then, M S Dhoni took a fine catch off Harbhajan Singh to get rid of Simon Katich (24).

Pragyan Ojha struck for India again as he had Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke stumped by wicketkeeper MS Dhoni for just 3. Clarke, who has not been in good form off-late, played 19 balls to score his 3 runs.

Despite losing three wickets in quick succession, skipper Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey stabilized the Australian innings and helped them cross 100-run mark.

The spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha again came to the rescue of India as they sent Mike Hussey and Marcus North packing in quick succession. Ojha first broke a dangerous-looking 66-run stand between Ponting and Hussey by getting rid of the latter for 20 while Bhajji bowled first-innings centurion North for 3.

Zaheer Khan gave India a vital breakthrough at the fag end on Day 4 when he dismissed dangerous-looking Ricky Ponting for 72, thus giving India a hope to end Australia’s innings and pressing for an Indian victory.

S Sreesanth finally joined the wicket-taking party when he picked up Tim Paine for 23.

Earlier, Australian bowlers displayed a spirited performance in the morning session on day four to bowl India out for 495 after Sachin Tendulkar notched up his 6th double ton.

Tendulkar scored yet another double century of his legendary Test career when he touched the milestone in the morning session on day four.

Resuming his innings on 191, Sachin took 18 balls to score nine runs and reached his double hundred in style. Sachin was finally out for 214 by fast bowler Peter George. His 363-ball epic knock consisted of 22 fours and 2 sixes.

It was Sachin’s 6th double ton in Tests and 2nd against Australia. Sachin is now joint fourth in the list of double-centurions with Don Bradman (12), Brian Lara (9) and Wally Hammond (7) scoring more double tons than him. Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Marvan Atapattu, Javed Miandad also scored six double centuries each in Tests.

After achieving the Herculean feat of being the first cricketer to complete 14,000 runs in Test cricket on Sunday, Sachin Tendulkar had touched another glorious milestone as he completed his 49th Test century on Monday.

Sachin Tendulkar’s marathon innings finally came to an end when he was dismissed by debutant fast bowler Peter George for 214. Tendulkar looked to lean onto the front-foot and steered it to the off side but somehow played a touch outside the line of the ball and got a bit of an inside edge which rolled onto the off stump.

Soon after that Shane Watson also removed Harbhajan Singh for just 4. George again came to hurt India as he sent Zaheer Khan packing for only 1.

Nathan Hauritz then claimed two wickets of M S Dhoni (32) and S Sreesanth (0) to wrap up India’s innings for 495. India take a slender lead of 17 runs in the first innings.

Yesterday, it was an eventful day for India as a mammoth 308-run partnership between Sachin Tendulkar and Murali Vijay helped India post 435/5 at the end of the third day.

Sachin displayed tremendous grit throughout the day as he remained unbeaten on 191, with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (11 not out) coming to his aide towards the end.

Apart from Sachin Tendulkar, opener Murali Vijay also slammed his maiden Test ton, scoring a fine 139 runs.