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Saturday, January 19, 2008

India maintain ascendancy thanks to Laxman and Pathan: Third Test Day 3

India 330 and 294 (VVS Laxman 79, S Clark 4/61, B Lee 3 /54); Australia 212 and 2/65 . Australia need 347 more runs with 8 wickets in hand.

Normally a scorecard showing Rahul Dravid 3, Sachin Tendulkar 13, and Sourav Ganguly 0 in the same innings would presage an Indian defeat. But in this situation the team, thanks to its healthy first innings lead, had a margin of safety. Its fourth great batsman, VVS Laxman with a doughty 79/ 156b and support from nightwatchman Irfan Pathan 46/64b and a restrained M S Dhoni 38/87b set Australia a seemingly unachievable 413, of which they'd knocked off 65 for the loss of 2 wickets by stumps.

The Australian bowling was uneven in quality: Stuart Clark was at his accurate best and Brett Lee consistently hostile, but when they were away from the bowling crease (as they were for some time while the part-time spinners tried to improve the very sluggish over rate) the pressure on India was reduced.

It goes without saying that if Australia are to win, and only their track record over the last few years makes it feasible to contemplate, then at least two players will need to play large innings. Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey,
despite their recent relatively modest form, must perform otherwise the psychological effect of wickets lost will kick in. But another 347 runs....? Unlikely, but not impossible.

Cricinfo Bulletin.

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