Hayden, Hussey anchor Aussies to safety

Published: Saturday, January 5, 2008, 13:56 [IST]
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Sydney: Matthew Hayden batted in pain to give Australia an outside chance of a record-equalling 16th Test victory over India in the second cricket Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The senior opening batsman battled a back/thigh injury with the aid of a runner to score 123 and offer the Australians some hope of forcing a result on Sunday's final day.

Indian skipper Anil Kumble kept the pressure on Australia with two wickets in two balls and left home captain Ricky Ponting with the ticklish decision of making an appropriate declaration of his team's second innings and going for victory.

At the close of the fourth day, Australia were 213 runs ahead at 282 for four with Mike Hussey poised for his eighth Test century on 87 and first innings centurion Andrew Symonds not out 14.

Ailing Hayden, 36, completed his 29th Test century and fifth against India, including the last two in successive Tests.

He was out on the reverse sweep to Wasim Jaffer at point off Kumble, who whipped out Michael Clarke next ball off an outside edge to Rahul Dravid at slip.

Symonds saw off the hattrick but only after a huge shout for leg before wicket.

Hayden restored the innings after the jolting loss of skipper Ponting for one with a 160-run partnership with Hussey.

Harbhajan Singh again proved Ponting's nemesis, snaring his wicket for the eighth time in Tests.

Harbhajan, the subject of an end-of-Test hearing over racial abuse charges, performed an extravagant victory jig after he sent Ponting on his way.

The Indian off-spinner has a feisty rivalry with Ponting going back to his acrimonious send-off of Ponting when the champion batsman was stumped off his bowling in Sharjah in 1998.

Ponting played forward to Harbhajan and spooned a catch to V.V.S. Laxman at silly point to send Harbhajan on a manic victory dash culminating in a theatrical tumble.

Ponting has struggled in this series with scores of four and three in Melbourne and 55 and one in Sydney, three times falling to Harbhajan.

Overall Harbhajan has dismissed Ponting cheaply seven times, including three ducks in the 2001 series in India.

Saturday's wicket came nine balls after the dismissal of opener Phil Jaques for 40 to give Kumble his 100th Test wicket against Australia.

Harbhajan faces a charge of racial abuse against Australian player Andrew Symonds and will appear before match referee Mike Procter after the Test on Sunday. The citing follows an alleged incident during Friday's third day.

India led by 69 runs on the first innings after centuries by Sachin Tendulkar (154 not out) and Laxman (109) and Australia will need a declaration to give them a chance of pursuing their 16th consecutive Test victory.

The weather could also play a hand in the outcome of the Test with showers sending the players off the field three times during the day.

India cannot afford to lose the Test otherwise Australia as holders will keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after their thumping 337-run victory in Melbourne.

Ponting's team are chasing a record-equalling 16th consecutive Test victory and have been undefeated in Tests since beating South Africa by 184 runs at this ground two years ago.

India could again be the team that halt Australia's winning march, having ended that 1999-2001 record sequence with their famous "Miracle of Calcutta" triumph.


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