x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Australia left reeling after Harbhajan strikes

Harbhajan Singh sparks a dramatic collapse that left Australia reeling at 141 for 5 wickets at stumps after being set 516 to win the second Test.

Harbhajan Singh, left, celebrates the dismissal of Australia's Simon Katich on the fourth day of their second Test.
Harbhajan Singh, left, celebrates the dismissal of Australia's Simon Katich on the fourth day of their second Test.

MOHALI // The India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh sparked a dramatic collapse that left Australia reeling at 141 for 5 wickets at stumps today after being set 516 to win the second Test. Harbhajan captured three wickets before and after tea on the fourth day with Australia self-destructing from 49-0 to 58-5 in a period when they were tormented by paceman Ishant Sharma. Australia finished on 141-5 - needing another 375 runs. Having seen India rush to 314-3 before their declaration in the middle session, Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich tried to make an early statement by out-muscling the bowlers during a brisk 49-run stand. The tactic backfired when Harbhajan entered in the final over before tea and removed both of them. Hayden, who blasted 29 off 20 balls, was trapped lbw while attempting to sweep. Five deliveries later, Katich (20) miscued a drive that was taken by Sachin Tendulkar, diving at short cover. Australia's lack of discipline was displayed again in Harbhajan's first over after the break when Michael Hussey missed a wild attempted pull and was lbw for only one run. When Sharma bowled Ponting for two runs with an unplayable off-cutter - dismissing the Australia captain for the fifth time in five Tests - and Shane Watson was lbw for two, there was a chance the visitors would not last until the final day. However, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, who was hit in the shoulder by Sharma's first ball, made sure the match entered a final day with an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 83. Clarke finished with 42 while Haddin added 37, but it was the bowling of Harbhajan and Sharma that dominated the afternoon. Harbhajan recorded figures of 3-23 off 15 overs while Sharma picked up 2-29. The opener Gautam Gambhir produced his second century during the start of India's onslaught, which ended when Mahendra Singh Dhoni ended Australia's punishment an over after drinks in the middle of the second session. The left-hander Gambhir joined forces with Virender Sehwag in an impressive 182-run partnership for the first wicket. Sehwag provided most of the power, but Gambhir stayed longer than his partner and moved to his century with a boundary through mid-wicket off White shortly before lunch. He had struck seven fours during his 136-ball stay, but left two deliveries later when he chipped to mid-off while on 104. Gambhir's half-century came in the fourth over of the day, and in the next over he hit the leg-spinner White for a straight six. Fifteen runs were struck off White's six balls and he also experienced harsh treatment from Sehwag. Sehwag smashed 90 from 122 deliveries before his aggressive knock ended when Peter Siddle had him caught behind by Haddin. Dhoni, who promoted himself to third in the batting line-up, ensured the momentum was maintained when he grabbed 68 from 84 balls to add to his 92 in the first innings. Australia's bowlers were ineffective on a batsman-friendly surface and Brett Lee, who sustained a right-hand injury in the first innings, did not bowl until after lunch. Lee removed Sourav Ganguly (27) when he skied to Clarke and the tourists were relieved when the declaration finally came. The first Test was drawn in Bangalore.

*AP