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Tail rescues Australia after Indian spinners strike

Last updated on: March 22, 2013 18:19 IST

India's quest for a historic clean sweep over Australia stayed on course, as their spinners continued their dominance to take the opening day's honours in the fourth and final Test in New Delhi on Friday.

- Scorecard

Australia, sans injured skipper Michael Clarke, battled to 231 for 8 at stumps after opting to bat on a dodgy Feroze Shah Kotla strip.

- Photos from Day 1, Kotla Test

The visitors' total was given a semblance of respectability by a 53-run eight-wicket partnership between Steven Smith and Peter Siddle, and an unbroken 43-run ninth-wicket stand between Siddle and James Pattinson.

Phillip Hughes, with a quick fire 45 at the top of the order, and Steven Smith, with a patient 46 in the middle, were the major tourists' contributors.

The gutsy Siddle, unbeaten on 47 fought hard, adding crucial runs with Pattinson.

R AshwinRavichandran Ashwin (4 for 40) was the wrecker-in-chief. He was ably supported by Ravindra Jadeja (2-34) and Ishant Sharma (2-35).

If the first day's pitch was any indication, the match is unlikely to go into the fifth day, as the considerable wear and tear made life difficult for the Aussie batsmen, a majority of whom did not seem to possess the requisite technique to counter the questions asked by the Jadeja-Ashwin duo.

After Ishant provided a couple of breakthroughs in the opening session, Ashwin and Jadeja ripped through the middle-order in the post-lunch session.

From a relatively secure 94 for 2 at lunch, the visitors suddenly looked in a hurry and paid dearly for their indiscretion, losing wickets in a heap.

Credit should also be given to India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for rotating his bowlers successfully. He frequently changed the ends from which each one of them operated, thereby making life difficult for the batsmen.

Ed Cowan (37) did all the hard work, surviving a dangerous first session by playing and missing on a number of occasions. But just when he looked set, he went for a sweep shot and was bowled round his legs.

Leading the side, Shane Watson was unable to impress on his Test captaincy debut. Having survived a stumping appeal in the first session, the all-rounder was dismissed by a typical left-arm spinner's delivery from Jadeja.

The delivery pitched on leg-middle as he drew Watson forward and the stand-in captain was beaten comprehensively while trying to whip the delivery through mid-wicket.

Matthew Wade (2) was caught by the silly point fielder to give Ashwin his second wicket, while Glenn Maxwell gave Jadeja the charge and offered a simple catch to Ishant at mid-on.

Mitchell Johnson had no clue about Ashwin's carrom ball delivery, failing to offer a stroke thinking that the ball would spin away. To his dismay, it spun back sharply and hit the off-stump.

From a relatively decent 106 for 2, the Aussies were left gasping at 136 for seven, and the writing was on the wall.

However, Smith and Siddle added 53 runs for the eighth wicket to stem the rot.

Smith hit two huge sixes off Pragyan Ojha during his 145-ball innings.

In the morning session, Ishant wreaked havoc by picking the wickets of David Warner and Phil Hughes.

Ishant removed Warner in his very first over with a fullish delivery outside the off-stump as Warner played away from his body with minimal feet movement.

Although Ishant and his new ball partner Buvneshwar Kumar bowled well, it was the track, prepared by curator Venkat Sundaram, that hogged all the limelight.

Hughes, who found some form going his way during the second innings in Mohali, took the attacking route knowing well that playing a game of survival would be difficult on this track. He hit 10 boundaries in his 59-ball 45.

The left-hander hit some flowing cover drives off both Bhuvneshwar and Ishant. He dispatched a lot of length deliveries to the boundary but somehow never looked set, which was partly due to the nature of the pitch.

Even some of the deliveries bowled by Ashwin rose awkwardly and frequently hit the handle of the bat.

In fact, before his dismissal, in the 21st over, Ishant softened up Hughes with a delivery that took off from short of a good length spot and hit him flush on the grill of his helmet.

The delivery unnerved Hughes big time and two balls later, a delivery that landed on the same spot kept low and the batsman played on.

Cowan and Hughes added 67 runs for the second wicket, which was the lone bright spot in another disappointing show by Australia's top-order.

Photograph: BCCI

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