Sun, Nov 02, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Clarke guides Aussies to safety against sloppy India


India’s Gautam Gambhir, left, jumps to avoid being hit by a shot by Australia’s Michael Clarke, second right, as Shane Watson, second left, and Amit Mishra, third right, look on during the fourth day of the third Test in New Delhi yesterday.


Michael Clarke hit a gritty century to steer Australia to safety on the fourth day of the third Test against a sloppy India yesterday.

Clarke, 27, led Australia’s commendable fightback with a 112-run knock that spanned six hours and took the tourists to a first innings score of 577 all out, just 36 adrift of India’s 613-7 declared.

The visitors then reduced India to 43-2 with Brett Lee accounting for Virender Sehwag (12) and Stuart Clark dismissing night watchman Ishant Sharma for 1.

India’s double-centurion Gautam Gambhir was on 21 and Rahul Dravid was on 5 at the close.

With just four sessions of play remaining and the wicket not showing much sign of deterioration, a draw looks the only likely result.

India lead the four-match Test series 1-0 after winning the second Test in Mohali by 320 runs.

The platform for Australia’s fightback was laid by their top-order batsmen, each of whom made handy contributions before Clarke came to the party with his eighth Test century.

The Aussie vice-captain shared a 73-run stand with Shane Watson (36) and added 103 for the seventh wicket with Cameron White (44), while surviving three dropped chances by the butter-fingered Indians.

He was dropped on 21, 90 and 94, underlining India’s indifferent effort in the field and dashing their hopes of forcing a series-clinching win.

The only bright spot for the hosts was the maiden five-wicket haul by part-time off-spinner Sehwag, who finished with fine figures of 5-104.

But the highlight of the day was Clarke’s patient 253-ball knock, containing six fours and a six.

He was dropped twice in his 90s with Venkatsai Laxman — celebrating his 34th birthday — failing to cup a sitter off Sehwag and Amit Mishra (2-144) grassing another in the bowler’s next over.

Clarke, who scored 151 on his Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004, was earlier spilled on 21 by Sharma, who failed to latch on to a simple chance at mid-on off Mishra.

He was finally dismissed by Mishra, who had him caught by Zaheer Khan at long-off.

Sehwag bowled White to bag his first Test five-wicket haul. White hit five fours and a six off leg-spinner Anil Kumble in his cameo 95-ball effort.

Kumble (1-94) returned to bowl in the 15th over a day after needing 11 stitches for a deep cut he sustained on his left little finger on Friday.

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