Australia close on historic series win in India

Australia 398 & 202-3 India 185

Australia Have continued their slow destruction of an Indian team unduly dependent upon a handful of players. Having secured a first innings lead of 213 in the third Test here yesterday, the visitors advanced cautiously on an unpredictable surface.

Australia Have continued their slow destruction of an Indian team unduly dependent upon a handful of players. Having secured a first innings lead of 213 in the third Test here yesterday, the visitors advanced cautiously on an unpredictable surface.

Often the cricket was not pretty as Justin Langer, especially, prodded around like a suspicious bird. It was effective, though, and by stumps the Australians were on the verge of regaining the Gavaskar-Border Trophy in a series they lead 1-0.

Continuing the outstanding work of the previous afternoon, Australia did not take long to polish off the Indian innings. Resuming at 146 for 5, the hosts soon lost Partiv Patel, who edged to slip. After pointlessly pounding Mohammad Kaif with the old ball, the visitors sought the services of a firmer missile whose bounce and movement proved too much for the local tail-enders.

Ajit Agarkar averages 3.56 against Australia and improved those figures with several speculations through an alarmed slip cordon. Before long, the edges began to find fieldsmen. Agarkar and Kaif were undone by late swing while Murali Kartik was removed by a fast leg-cutter. Anil Kumble had time to play and miss umpteen times before the last wicket fell.

Jason Gillespie, after conceding 16 in his first over, took 5 for 40 in 21.5 overs. Glenn McGrath was even better, taking 3 for 27.

Australia did not enforce the follow-on and instead consolidated their position in an innings of fits and starts. Matthew Hayden looked tired and was bowled neck and crop by Zaheer Khan.

Had India enjoyed any luck their opponents might have faltered. Instead Langer repeatedly played and missed as the ball moved around off the pitch. Langer became so bogged down that he scored two runs in 80 minutes either side of lunch.

Simon Katich was fortunate to survive his first hour, but as he grew in stature he started to pound the spinners and from that moment the game was up for India.

Langer departed as he swung at his 119th ball and was taken on the boundary. Katich moved smoothly along, stepping down the pitch to strike successive balls from Kumble over the bowler's head. He reached 99 with considerable ease whereupon, with the field up, more than two days remaining and a hundred at his mercy, he lost his head and his wicket as he missed a faster ball from Kartik.

* The India captain, Saurav Ganguly, who is not playing in the third Test because of a groin strain, is doubtful for the fourth Test in Bombay next month.

* The left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori completed his second 10-wicket haul in Test cricket yesterday to put New Zealand in sight of victory over Bangladesh in the second Test. Vettori took 6 for 70 to follow his 4 for 77 in the first innings. At the close of the third day, Bangladesh were 210 for 8 in their second innings, still needing 153 runs to make New Zealand bat again.

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