Battling half-centuries from captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh put India back in the driving seat on a controversial day four of the fourth and final Test of the Border-Gavaskar series here against Australia. Dhoni and Harbhajan wrested control after medium-pacer Shane Watson and debutant off-spinner Jason Krejza each claimed two wickets in quick succession after lunch to raise Australia's hopes of claiming the victory they need to draw the series 1-1. The hosts were eventually bowled out for 295 in their second innings, leaving Australia chasing a victory target of 382.
They had moved on to 13 without loss at stumps. Earlier, the Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who faces a ban for any further offence after already having been fined twice this year for a slow over-rate, was under fire for not giving the ball to his front-line bowlers after tea when his team was on top. It is believed the 33-year-old was concerned about not bowling the required number of overs. "I don't think for one second that Ricky hasn't pressed for the win," defended his coach Tim Nielsen said. "At the end of the day he's got the responsibility to bowl the overs he has to bowl." There was also controversy after Cameron White was seen picking at loose leather on the ball, but the umpires decided to take no action.
Australia also looked ragged in the field. Brad Haddin gave away five penalty runs for lobbing his right glove at the ball in the middle session before Mitchell Johnson caused four overthrows by firing at the non-striker's end after Krejza had taken his cap from Aleem Dar.
India had enjoyed a profitable morning session and openers Virender Sehwag (92) and Murali Vijay (41) appeared to have shut the door on the visitors with a 116-run stand for the opening wicket. But Watson and Krejza triggered a collapse as India crashed from 116 for one just after lunch to 166 for six at tea. Sehwag brought up his half-century with a slog-sweep off Krejza to the mid-on boundary and, in the first over after lunch, hoisted the off-spinner over mid-on for six. But Watson then severed the opening-wicket stand
His reverse swinging delivery had Vijay trapped in front, while a similar ball also saw his replacement, Rahul Dravid, walk for three soon after when he was drawn into a front-foot defence only to be caught behind by Brad Haddin. Lee was then brought back into the attack and immediately ended Sehwag's run, getting the opener to jab at a short leg-stump delivery which wicketkeeper Haddin neatly pouched.
Krejza bowled VVS Laxman, getting one to spin viciously and crash into the stumps. He then latched on to a leading edge from Sourav Ganguly before Sachin Tendulkar was run out.
Dhoni (55) and Harbhajan (52) then shepherded the home side to a position of safety. They put on 108 runs before Krejza dismissed Dhoni, a shot from the India captain going straight off his boot to Michael Hussey at silly point. Watson then bowled Harbhajan and Amit Mishra while Zaheer Khan was caught by Haddin off Krejza.