Symonds lifts Aussies after early blows

Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2008, 13:56 [IST]
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Sydney: Andrew Symonds produced a fighting century and featured in a ground record stand to rescue Australia on the opening day of the second cricket Test against India here on Wednesday.

The dreadlocked all-rounder resisted with his second Test century, crunching an unbeaten 137 to deny India the knockout blow after the Australians had sagged to 134 for six in the 35th over.

Symonds joined in a 173-run partnership with leg-spinner Brad Hogg to shatter a 44-year Sydney Cricket Ground record of 160 set by Richie Benaud and Graham McKenzie against South Africa.

Hogg looked poised for his maiden Test century before being caught at slip off fellow leg-spinner Anil Kumble for 79 off 102 balls with 18 overs left to stumps.

At the close, Australia were 376 for seven with Brett Lee the other not out batsman on 31.

Up to Symonds and Hogg's salvaging act, the Indians had looked set to redeem themselves after their ignominious 337-run defeat in the first Melbourne Test last weekend.

They rocked Australia taking 4-15 in the space of five overs after lunch to have them shaky at 134 for six.

India will rue their missed opportunity to remove Symonds when he was on 30 after he edged Ishant Sharma to wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni, but was given not out by umpire Steve Bucknor despite television replays showing otherwise.

Symonds, looking increasingly assured batting at No.6 in the Australian lineup since his 156 against England in Melbourne a year ago, has faced 173 balls and hit 17 fours and two sixes.

Australia can hold on to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a record-equalling 16th consecutive Test victory.

India, with left-armer paceman RP Singh leading the attack with four wickets after Zaheer Khan's withdrawal with a heel injury, were on track to skittle Australia for a sub-200 score.

But the opportunity was snatched from them by Symonds and Hogg's belligerent partnership.

India had their best patch of the series with four wickets after lunch, including the prized scalp of Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

Ponting, who survived a confident leg-side catch appeal on 17, looked unlucky to be given out by umpire Mark Benson.

Harbhajan Singh again proved Ponting's nemesis, taking his wicket for the seventh time in Tests, leg before wicket for 55 off 69 balls.

But television replays clearly showed Ponting's bat first making contact before the ball cannoned into his back pad.

Harbhajan went on an victory jig flapping his arms about in celebration of Ponting's big wicket.

Two balls later Mike Hussey was on his way for 41, edging to Sachin Tendulkar at first slip to give RP Singh his third wicket.

Michael Clarke became the third Australian out in 12 balls, lbw while not offering a shot playing forward to an Harbhajan off-break.

Singh captured his fourth wicket with Adam Gilchrist for seven, giving Tendulkar his third catch.

Umpire Benson earlier gave Ponting the benefit of the doubt for dabbling at one down the leg-side off Sourav Ganguly cutting short India's jubilant celebrations.

Singh gave India a rousing start with two wickets in his opening five overs.

Phil Jaques, who went into the Test on the back of six consecutive Test half-centuries, chased a wide Singh delivery and was snapped up by Dhoni for a duck.

Matthew Hayden, man-of-the-match in the Melbourne Test with his first innings century, edged Singh and was well caught at first slip by Tendulkar for 13.

Zaheer's withdrawal gave an opportunity to 19-year-old medium pacer Sharma to play in his third Test.

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