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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Australia crumble against spin after fine start

Australia crumble against spin after fine start

Last updated on: March 15, 2013 19:24 IST

India claimed four wickets in the final session to end the second day in the third Test against Australia on a high, in Mohali, on Friday.

- Scorecard 

The Aussies failed to capitalise on a century partnership for the opening wicket and were reduced to 273 for 7 at stumps, with comeback man Steven Smith and Mitchell Starc batting on 58 and 20 respectively.

While Ravindra Jadeja emerged India’s surprise package, claiming three wickets, including two off two deliveries, it was Ishant Sharma's late burst that pushed Australia on the backfoot after Ed Cowan and David Warner put up a 139-run partnership for the first wicket after Michael Clarke opted to bat.

His flagging career on the line after a string of failures, Cowan silenced his doubters with a dogged 86, off 238 balls. His partner, Warner scored a fluent 71 off 147 balls, with help of nine fours.

- PHOTOS: India v Australia, Mohali Test, Day 2

Cowan found the fence eight times, but will be disappointed at not being able to convert his efforts into a century, despite getting two lives.

Steven SmithThe duo's efforts, though, were a bit undone with the loss of seven wickets in the final two sessions of play.

Ishant had Brad Haddin and Moises Henriques bowled to reduce Australia to 244 for 6 late into the final session of play at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium, where the first day was washed out due to heavy rain.

Jadeja had Peter Siddle trapped in front of the wicket.

Making a comeback after more than two years in the wilderness, Smith stood firm and showed the right mix of aggression and resolve against the Indian spinners.

After Cowan departed, caught by Virat Kohli off Ravichandran Ashwin at first slip, it was left to Smith to ensure that Australia carry on the fight in this must-win game for them.

Smith, the 23-year-old from New South Wales, did his job admirably, adding crucial runs with Brad Haddin for the fifth wicket, which frustrated the Indians for a while before Sharma opened the floodgates.

In the second session, Jadeja got the wickets of Warner and Clarke for naught, while Pragyan Ojha accounted for Phillip Hughes, as Australia went for tea on 180 for three.

The Cowan-Warner stand, incidentally, is also Australia's best partnership for the opening wicket on this ground, eclipsing the 87-run stand set by Shane Watson and Simon Katich back in 2010.

After having Warner caught by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who ran forward after the ball looped off the batsman's bat-pad, Jadeja bagged the most important wicket of skipper Clarke, who was stumped by Dhoni off the first ball the batsman faced.

The ball turned away sharply on landing, and an over-confident Clarke made the mistake of stepping out straightaway.

Twelve overs later, Ojha had Hughes caught down the leg-side by Dhoni, ending the out-of-form batsman's yet another miserable stay at the crease.

Hughes has scored no more than a mere two runs off 70 balls against the spinners while getting out five times in this series.

India could have added one more to the wickets tally, but Virat Kohli at first slip dropped an edge that Ojha induced off Cowan.

Warner struck nine fours while facing 147 balls. What was also important was that the opener spent 206 minutes in the middle after a run of poor scores.

It turned out to be good session for Jadeja, who delivered after the specialist bowlers failed to give the hosts a breakthrough.

Earlier, it turned out to be Shikhar Dhawan’s greatest moment of his cricket career as the 27-year-old left-hander from Delhi was handed his maiden Test cap by none other than the great Sachin Tendulkar.

India made two changes to the squad, bringing in Ojha and in place of Harbhajan Singh and Dhawan for the dropped Virender Sehwag.

Australia brought in Brad Haddin, Mitchell Starc, Steven Smith and Nathan Lyon in place of the injured Matthew Wade and suspended James Pattinson, Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell.

Photograph: BCCI

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