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Ton-up Steve Waugh leads Aussie charge against timid Indians - by Kuldip Lal

CALCUTTA, March 12 (AFP) - Steve Waugh lived up to his reputation as a gutsy fighter with his 25th Test century as Australia tightened the noose around India in the second Test here on Monday.

Waugh smashed 110 after a record ninth wicket stand of 133 with Jason Gillespie to help the tourists recover from 269-8 and post 445 an hour after lunch on the second day.

The Indians, beaten inside three days in the first Test, faded once again to end the day at a pathetic 128-8, still 118 runs away from avoiding a follow-on.

Some 60,000 shocked fans at the Eden Gardens jeered as the hosts caved in after master batsman Sachin Tendulkar was trapped leg-before by Glenn McGrath for 10.

India's woes magnified when spin wizard Shane Warne bowled Rahul Dravid for 25 and Steve Waugh picked up a brilliant catch off his counterpart Sourav Ganguly at gully.

McGrath grabbed 3-13 from 11 overs and Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz claimed two wickets each as the Indians once again showed their discomfort against pace bowling even on a slow track.

At stumps, Venkatsai Laxman was unbeaten on 26, while Venkatapathy Raju was on three.

Australia have three days in hand to force their 17th consecutive Test victory that will win them their first series on Indian soil since 1970.

Waugh's world-beating side lead 1-0 in the three-match rubber after a 10-wicket romp with two days to spare in the first Test at Bombay.

Waugh battled for five hours to steer Australia out of trouble and reaffirm his credentials as the most successful contemporary batsman.

The 35-year-old not only surpassed Tendulkar's tally of 24 Test ceturies, but also overtook Pakistani Javed Miandad to become the fourth highest scorer with 8,847 runs.

Only Waugh's former team-mate Allan Border (11,174), Sunil Gavaskar of India (10,122) and Graham Gooch of England (8,900) have scored more runs.

Gillespie, who contributed a career-best 46, helped Waugh set up a new ninth-wicket record for Australia against India, surpassing the 96 by Ian Healy and Gavin Robertson at Madras in 1998.

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

Waugh downplayed his achievement, saying he would not have got there had Gillespie not stayed around long enough.

"I grew in confidence as Jason settled in," he said. "It's always very satisfying to come out of a tight situation.

"It is now upto the bowlers to see us through this game."

Harbhajan removed both Gillespie and Waugh to finish with 7-123 as Australia's first innings ended an hour after lunch.

Gillespie, whose previous best was 41 against Sri Lanka at Kandy in 1999, was however fortunate to cross 11 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.

But the hosts had only themselves to blame when their turn came to bat as wickets tumbled at regular intervals against the fiery Australians.

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