Watson lifts Australia in second India Test

Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008, 15:08 [IST]
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Shane Watson struck a maiden half-century as Australia rallied to reach 249-8 by tea on the third day of the second Test against India here on Sunday.

Watson's 66-run knock studded with eight fours and a six left the visitors needing 21 runs to avoid their first follow-on in three years.

The 27-year-old all-rounder got commendable support from tailender Brett Lee (35), the duo putting on a gritty 73 runs for the eighth wicket off 168 balls.

The visitors still trail India by 220 runs after the home side made a strong 469 in their first innings.

At the break, Mitchell Johnson was batting on two with Watson.

Watson and Lee steadied the Australian innings after they were reeling at 167-7 on a good track at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium.

Lee danced down the track to loft leg-spinner Amit Mishra (3-70) twice for fours over the mid-off while Watson pulled him over the midwicket for a six.

The 27-year-old Watson, playing his fifth Test, reached his half-century in style, despatching the long-maned Ishant Sharma (2-68) in front of square for a delectable four.

Lee, who needed two stitches on his right hand on day one of the match, also took a nasty blow on his back from Sharma, bowling with a new ball.

But he responded by driving the bowler down to the ground for his fifth four of the day. He hit six fours in all in his 96-ball knock.

His spirited resistance was brought to an end by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who induced him into edging one to Rahul Dravid at first slip.

The visitors lost three key wickets in the morning session in the face of a smart spin-pace combination from the home side.

Key middle-order batsman Michael Hussey (54), Brad Haddin (nine) and Cameron White (five) were all cooling their heels in the pavilion after resuming the day on 102-4.

The 33-year-old Hussey, who top-scored with 146 in the drawn Bangalore opener, reached his 10th Test fifty with a pulled two off Sharma before edging the bowler in the same over to Mahendra Dhoni behind the stumps.

He hit seven fours in his 119-ball knock.

Harbhajan claimed Haddin with a flighted delivery that dipped in and crashed on to his off-stumps.

Mishra then got in on the act, deceiving White with a googly that knocked off his leg-stump in spectacular fashion.

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