India turn up the heat on dramatic day

Australia’s bid to break their own world record for consecutive Test wins was on shaky ground on Thursday after their batting collapsed on a dramatic second day of the third Test against India in Perth.

India bowled the Australians out for 212 in 50 overs and then added 52 runs for the loss of one wicket, reaching stumps with an overall lead of 170.

Australia, who won the first two matches in the series to equal their own world record of 16 consecutive Test wins, looked to have gained the upper hand early in the day.

The hosts polished off the Indian first innings for 330 before lunch, capturing the last four wickets for just two runs.

However, their own batting crumbled on a scorching hot day where the temperature climbed past 41 degrees Celsius.

Indian spinner Anil Kumble joined Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne as the only players to claim 600 Test wickets while wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni took five excellent catches, including four off impressive left-arm paceman Rudra Pratap Singh.

RP Singh was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4-68, while Irfan Pathan and teenager Ishant Sharma grabbed two apiece as the Indian seamers succeeded in rattling the Australians with their ability to extract movement both off the pitch and in the air.

The Australians lost their first three wickets before the total had passed 14, then their last five for 47 runs. Only Andrew Symonds (66) and Adam Gilchrist (55) saved them from complete disaster.

It was in stark contrast to the morning session when Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark combined to knock off the last four Indian wickets in 17 deliveries.

Clark trapped Dhoni lbw for 19 with a ball that straightened up and hit above the knee roll, and also had Kumble caught by Test debutant Chris Rogers for one at gully.

Johnson dismissed Pathan for 28 when he struck him on the pads with a full toss in the next over and then finished off the innings by dismissing RP Singh for a duck, caught in the gully by Mike Hussey.

First Test duck

Australia could hardly have made a worse start to their reply as Pathan, playing his first match of the series after replacing Harbhajan Singh, dismissed Rogers (four) and fellow opener Phil Jaques (eight) in the same over before lunch.

Hussey registered his first duck in Test cricket when he edged RP Singh behind as Australia limped to lunch on 22-3 before the beanpole Sharma dismissed Ponting (20) and Michael Clarke (23) shortly after the re-start.

Symonds and Gilchrist steadied the Australian innings with a sixth-wicket partnership of 102 in 84 minutes before they fell in quick succession.

Symonds, who made a century in Sydney last week, struck eight boundaries and a six before he handed Kumble his 600th wicket. He had a let off on three when Sachin Tendulkar dropped a routine catch at first slip.

But his luck ran out when he was caught at slip by Rahul Dravid after nicking a catch behind that deflected off Dhoni’s gloves.

Gilchrist brought up his half-century with successive boundaries off RP Singh before he chased a wide ball and edged it behind, to trigger the late collapse.

India made a bright start to their second innings with Virender Sehwag reaching the close unbeaten on 29, but they lost Wasim Jaffer for 11 with the total on 45, caught by Hussey at gully off Clark.

Pathan, promoted to nightwatchman, survived a hostile final few overs to remain unbeaten on two. His team are in a strong position to build a big lead with three days to go. — Reuters

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