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Hayden, Ponting lead Aussie charge

Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008, 14:05 [IST]
 
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Australian batsmen dominate third day

Adelaide: Opener Matthew Hayden scored his 30th Test century as Australia's batsmen dominated the third day of the fourth and final Test against India here.

In reply to India's 526, the hosts were 322 for three at stumps on the third day, with a watchful captain Ricky Ponting on 79 and Michael Clarke on 37.

The pair had added 81, with the Australians still trailing by 204 and the match seemingly headed for a draw, which will be enough for the home side to win the series.

India tried seven bowlers during the day, but there was little meaningful assistance from a docile wicket as Australia adopted an unusually cautious approach at the crease.

Hayden missed the third Test in Perth with a hamstring strain, but bounced back to make 103, his 159-run opening partnership with Phil Jaques (60) a record for Australia against India at the Adelaide Oval and laying the foundation for a big total.

Hayden left no chances in reaching his century, although he did survive a confident LBW appeal from Irfan Pathan on 67.

He was barely troubled by the bowlers for most of his innings and capitalised on the short boundaries on either side of the wicket.

However, just after reaching his century, he was bowled by a superb ball from exciting young paceman Ishant Sharma that jagged through his defences.

Hayden had faced 200 balls, hitting 10 fours and one massive six straight down the ground off Indian captain Kumble.

The 36-year-old has 410 runs in the series at 82.00.

Jaques was the first to go, clean bowled when he missed an attempted sweep from Kumble, who was relieved to have finally made a breakthrough with one of the few deliveries to turn sharply during the day.

Mike Hussey made just 22, clean bowled through the gate by reverse swing from Pathan.

The Indians were hampered by the absence of opening bowler R.P. Singh, who was left the field with a hamstring strain suffered late on the second day.

Harbhajan Singh, recalled to renew his duel with Ponting, struggled to have an impact and failed to take a wicket in 28 overs, conceding 70 runs.

The pair exchanged words late in the day, after Ponting got in Harbhajan's way as he attempted to make a stop off his own bowling.

The teenage Sharma was again impressive and had 1-47 from 22 overs.

He was unlucky not to have claimed the wicket of Ponting, who had gone perilously close to playing the ball onto his stumps on eight.

Ponting wasn't at his prolific best with the bat in the first three Tests and again looked a little out of sorts for much of the day, his timing and placement still missing.

However, he stuck at his task manfully and had been at the crease for 248 minutes, faced 150 balls and hit six boundaries.

The Indians were certain they had Clarke on 32, caught by Rahul Dravid at slip off part-time spinner Virender Sehwag, but replays showed umpire Billy Bowden was correct to turn the appeal down, the ball coming off the batsman's forearm as he attempted to cut.

India's first innings total of 526 was based around a 153 by batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and an 87 from Kumble.

Australia are 2-1 up in the series and have already retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

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