Hilfenhaus puts tourists back in the hunt

Australia 192 India 55-4
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The Independent Online

Ben Hilfenhaus took three late wickets on day four of the first Test to bring Australia back into the match against India after being bundled out for a paltry 192 here in Mohali yesterday.

The Australia paceman saw off the dangerous Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina before Doug Bollinger accounted for Rahul Dravid to leave the hosts on 55 for 4 chasing a victory target of 216.

Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma claimed three wickets each while spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha got two apiece, as none of the Australia batsmen, with the exception of first-innings centurion Shane Watson (56), showed any resistance. India dominated the first two sessions and most of the third on a day that saw the fall of 14 wickets, but frittered away the advantage in the final hour.

India started disastrously losing Gambhir for a duck in Hilfenhaus's first over of the innings. The left-hander from Delhi was ruled out lbw even though replays suggested there had been a huge inside-edge, but the wicket of Dravid (13) was a bigger blow, since he was timing the ball well and appeared to be carrying on from his first-innings 77. Bollinger claimed the prize wicket, when the 37-year-old right-hander lunged across to defend a delivery, which found the edge of his blade and travelled through to wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

Hilfenhaus got in on the action again with a double blow, first claiming Sehwag (17), who offered a simple catch at gully to Michael Hussey, and then Raina, who was bounced out without scoring, to leave him with figures of 3 for 22 in seven overs.

The hopes of India's fightback hinges on Sachin Tendulkar (10 not out), who carried the battle to the final morning along with nightwatchman Zaheer Khan, who has performed impressively with the ball claiming match figures of eight for 137 in 41.5 overs.

Earlier in the day, Australia endured a dramatic collapse in their second innings, losing all 10 wickets within 105 runs and inside 40 overs. The opening stand between Watson and Simon Katich was worth 87 with Watson scoring at a run a ball. But his dismissal – he chopped a Sharma delivery onto his stumps soon after – triggered a collapse as Sharma, in the same over, claimed the prize scalp of captain Ricky Ponting and snared Michael Clarke in his next over to reduce the tourists from a comfortable 86 for no loss to 96 for 3.

Katich and Hussey held the innings together for some time and added 42 but Ojha got through the defence of the obdurate opener who had scored 37 off 118 balls, triggering another collapse just before tea. Harbhajan then removed Hussey (28 off 72 balls) and Marcus North (10), to leave the tourists on 165 for six.

There was more misery for Ponting's side as Zaheer came up with a superb spell of reverse swing claiming three wickets. Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz and Hilfenhaus fell to the Mumbai Indians bowler, who also joined the 250-wicket club playing his 73rd Test.

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