India inflict double trouble

India 613-7 dec Australia 50-0
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Opener Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman plundered double hundreds as India declared their first innings at 613 for 7 to leave themselves totally in control on the second day of the third Test against Australia yesterday. Gambhir hit 206 for his maiden double century before Laxman reached 200 not out and skipper Anil Kumble declared about an hour after tea. It was the first time two Indian batsmen had scored double hundreds in one Test innings.

The 33-year-old Laxman played elegant shot after elegant shot to reach his second Test double hundred – his first had come with a then Indian Test record of 281 against Australia in 2001, an innings which sparked a sensational series win. He struck 21 fours in nearly eight hours, having scored his 13th Test century – and sixth against Australia – before lunch. He shared in a 278-run fourth-wicket partnership with the left-handed Gambhir, who completed a chanceless double after lunch before being dismissed.

Gambhir struck 110 runs in boundaries, faced 380 balls and had batted for more than nine hours before playing a delivery from all-rounder Shane Watson on to the stumps. Both players will appear before a disciplinary hearing after clashing during the first day.

The Australian bowlers went two sessions without a wicket until after lunch on a pitch which is expected to assist spin bowlers later in the game. Laxman did not play with as much flourish as usual in order to overcome Australia skipper Ricky Ponting's fielding placements, which were designed to block his favoured shots past cover and midwicket. Instead, he drove and flicked Brett Lee for fours. He was becalmed on 99 for 11 balls before driving leg-spinner Cameron White to cover for four to reach 100.

Lee, who has struggled in this series, almost removed Laxman after forcing him to fend off a short ball before returning ordinary figures of one for 119. Laxman reached his double-hundred by hoisting occasional spinner Michael Clarke over mid-on.

India added 98 quick runs after tea with Kumble (45) and Zaheer Khan (28 not out) also weighing in before the innings was called off once Laxman got to his milestone. Johnson took three wickets and Watson two.

Australia survived a tricky last session and were 50 for no loss at stumps with openers Matthew Hayden (16) and Simon Katich (29) seeing off 15 overs together.