Gambhir, Laxman pile on agony for Australia

Published: Thursday, October 30, 2008, 17:42 [IST]
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Gautam Gambhir and Venkatsai Laxman hammered double-centuries to put India in complete control on the second day of the third Test against Australia here on Thursday.

Opening batsman Gambhir struck a career-best 206 while the stylish Laxman remained unbeaten on 200 as the hosts posted a massive 613-7 before declaring their first innings midway through the final session.

Australia were cautious in their reply, reaching 50-0 at the close with Matthew Hayden on 16 and Simon Katich on 29.

The day belonged to the Indian batsmen, who thrived in good batting conditions and set their side up for a series-clinching win.

The hosts lead the four-Test series 1-0 after winning the previous match in Mohali by 320 runs. The opener in Bangalore ended in a draw.

Gambhir, 149 overnight, struck 26 fours and a six in his knock that spanned nearly nine hours while Laxman heaped further agony on the tourists with his 301-ball innings studded with 21 fours.

Laxman, 33, reached the 200-run mark with a two off Michael Clarke and also completed 2000 runs against Australia in the process.

It was Laxman's second double-century against Australia after his career-best 281 in the 2001 home series at Kolkata.

Laxman shared a 278-run stand with Gambhir and another 98 runs with skipper Anil Kumble (45) who will be pleased with his decision to bat first on a flat Feroz Shah Kotla track.

It was the first time that two batsmen have scored double-centuries in an innings for India.

There was little joy though for the tourists, who toiled for two wicketless sessions before tasting some success when Shane Watson accounted for Gambhir and Mahendra Dhoni (27) and Katich sent back Sourav Ganguly (five).

A desperate Ricky Ponting brought himself into the attack but without much luck as the Indians made batting look easy.

It was Watson who gave his team the breakthrough when Gambhir inside-edged onto his stumps but by then the damage had already been done.

Laxman was stuck for 11 balls on 99 but reached his 13th century and sixth against Australia with a cover-driven four off leg-spinner Cameron White.

Laxman, who has a knack of playing big innings against Australia, and Gambhir denied the tourists any success in the morning session, putting on 97 runs off 26 overs after resuming on 296-3.

Lee bowled with purpose and intent and was unlucky after Laxman fended off a rising ball clumsily.

Laxman -- one short of playing his 100th Test -- used his wrists beautifully to pull and drive the bowlers on both sides of the wicket.

Left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson finished with the best figures of 3-142.

The fourth and final Test is slated to be played in Nagpur from Nov 6-10.

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