Laxman provides spark as Test heads towards draw

Published: Sunday, November 2, 2008, 15:15 [IST]
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Stylish middle-order batsman Venkatsai Laxman hit an unbeaten half-century as India reached 193-5 at tea on the fifth and final day of the third Test against Australia here on Sunday.

Laxman, who made 200 not out in the hosts' first innings score of 613-7 declared, stroked seven fours for his 36th Test fifty and was batting on 55 at the break with Sourav Ganguly on 22.

The hosts took their overall lead to 229 with five wickets in hand after having bowled out the tourists for 577 in their first innings.

With just one session remaining to be played, the game was all set to end in a draw.

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

Laxman, who has a penchant of scoring big against Australia, carried his superb form into the second innings and shared a 52-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar (47).

Tendulkar too looked set for his 51st half-century but offered a simple catch to Matthew Hayden off leg-spinner Cameron White mid-way through the post-lunch session.

The Indian star showed flashes of brilliance during his 120-ball knock, hitting four fours, including a cracking square drive off Brett Lee (2-41).

Ganguly, set to retire after the series, gave the holiday crowd something to cheer when he lofted Michael Clarke over long-on for a huge six.

Resuming at their overnight score of 43-2, the hosts lost an out-of-sorts Rahul Dravid (11) early when he dragged a Lee in-swinger onto his stumps for his second failure in the match.

Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir (36) put 40 runs on for the third wicket before the opener was unlucky to be adjudged leg-before off paceman Mitchell Johnson as TV replays showed the ball would have missed leg stump.

Gambhir, who top-scored with 206 in India's first innings, hit five fours in his nearly three-hour stay at the crease.

Laxman welcomed Johnson, celebrating his 27th birthday, with a boundary, prompting the bowler to hurl a few angry words at him.

The right-hander also hit a classic straight drive off White besides a cover driven boundary off Clarke.

The fourth and final Test will be played in Nagpur from Nov 6-10.

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