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Steve Waugh's 25th ton lifts Australia to 445

CALCUTTA, March 12 (AFP) - Australian captain Steve Waugh hit his 25th Test century to steer Australia to 445 in their first innings in the second cricket Test against India here on Monday.

The battle-hardened 35-year-old made 110 as the tourists, resuming at the lunch score of 383-8, were all out an hour after the break on the second day.

India, in reply, were 32-1 at tea after losing opener Sadagopan Ramesh before a run had been scored.

The left-hander casually swished outside the off-stump against Jason Gillespie to give Ricky Ponting an easy catch at second slip.

The other opener Shiv Das was unbeaten on 20, while Rahul Dravid was on nine at the break.

Waugh, never to duck away from a challenge, batted for five hours to shore up the innings after Australia were struggling at 269-8 on the first day.

He reaffirmed his credentials as the most successful contemporary batsman, surpassing Indian Sachin Tendulkar's tally of 24 Test ceturies.

Waugh also overtook Pakistani Javed Miandad to become the fourth highest Test scorer with 8,847 runs, behind former team-mate Allan Border (11,174), Sunil Gavaskar of India (10,122) and Graham Gooch of England (8,900).

Waugh put on a record 133 for the ninth wicket with Gillespie, who contributed a career-best 46 to help Australia recover from a middle-order collapse and post a commanding score.

The defiant stand was Australia's best against India for the ninth wicket, surpassing the 96 by Ian Healy and Gavin Robertson at Madras during the previous tour in 1998.

The pair had come together during a tumultous post-tea session on Sunday when Australia lost seven wickets for 76 runs following a hat-trick from Harbhajan Singh.

It was the 20-year-old off-spinner who broke the stand soon after lunch when he had Gillespie snapped up by Sadagopan Ramesh at forward short-leg.

Gillespie, who previous best was 41 against Sri Lanka at Kandy in 1999, kept his captain company for three hours and 10 minutes to help Australia overcome the crisis.

Harbhajan also trapped Waugh leg-before to terminate the innings and finish with figures of seven for 123.

Earlier, Waugh and Gillespie batted through the morning session to take the tourists from their overnight score of 291-8 to 383 without further loss by lunch.

Gillespie was, however, fortunate to last beyond the first five overs of the day when umpire Shyam Bansal negated an appeal for a catch at the wicket off seamer Venkatesh Prasad.

The Indians had reason to feel disappointed as television replays showed the ball take the edge and carry to wicket-keeper Nayan Mongia.

Gillespie, then on 11, went to lunch on 38 as Waugh moved to 82 by the break.

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