Australia peg India back

A century stand between Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar was not enough to help India gain the upper hand in the third Test against hosts Australia. From a strong position at 198-2, the visitors crumbled to 297-6, thanks to some express bowling from Brett Lee on a wicket that proved to be not as favorable to pacemen as was predicted.

Having won the toss, India decided to go in with the bat. Two changes were made to the side that lost the controversial match at Sydney last week. Harbhajan Singh, who was at the center of the racism dispute, was left out even though he was eligible to play despite his three-match ban, the hearing for which is not until late this month. India decided to go in with the extra paceman Irfan Pathan, in Harbhajan’s stead. An undeniably out-of-form Yuvraj Singh was replaced by Virender Sehwag.

Opening the batting with Wasim Jaffer, Sehwag played some speculative shots during the duo’s half century partnership, cutting and edging his way to 29. Wasim Jaffer, who also has been out of touch throughout the series, despite looking uncomfortable against Lee and Mitchell Johnson managed to reach two-figures. Both the openers, however, fell before lunch in quick succession, Sehwag to Lee and Jaffer to Johnson, caught behind the wickets by Adam Gilchrist.

Resuming at 74-2 after lunch, India had a perfect second session, not losing a single wicket, while scoring over a hundred runs. Australia could not make good on a couple of early chances, one each given by Dravid and Tendulkar, allowing the duo to dominate the bowling with the ball having gotten softer. Dravid was on 11, when Clarke dropped a simple regulation catch in the slips, while Tendulkar survived a good shout for leg before off the bowling of Andrw Symonds.

Ironically, Tendulkar fell eventually to a dubious leg before decision, when after tea, a returning Lee trapped him in front of the wickets. However, the ball was going high, above the stumps, as suggested by television replays. Nonetheless, after the rancor in the last match originating from poor umpiring decisions, it was a rather uneventful day with no more dubious decisions.

The in-form Sourav Ganguly did not last long this time, managing to face only 12 balls before spearing Johnson to Michael Hussey at gully, who pulled off a magnificent catch, sending India down to 214-4. Another small partnership followed, this time from the much feared duo that has haunted Australia on more than one occasion, Dravid and VVS Laxman.

Dravid moved into the nineties in the time being, before falling to Symonds who deceived him into playing a shot too early, only to send a simple catch to Ricky Ponting. Unfortunately for India, Laxman too followed before the close of play with the score on 284, when a rashly attempted pull off Lee went awry, and was grabbed easily by a returning Shaun Tait at mid-off. At the end of the day, Australia, who also gave Chris Rogers his first match, looked in a much better position than they did at tea. India, at 297-6, on a beautiful batting track, which is providing just a little assistance to the seamers, by no means look in charge.

India 297-6
Rahul Dravid 93, Sachin Tendulkar 71
Brett Lee 3-64, Mitchell Johnson 2-62

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