Australia go for runs in deciding Test against India
MADRAS, India, March 18 (AFP) - Matthew Hayden smashed an unbeaten 55 as Australia overcame the loss of two wickets to make a brisk start in the third and decisive Test against India here on Sunday.
The tall left-hander hit four boundaries and as many sixes as the tourists, taking first strike in good batting conditions, raced to 140-2 by lunch on the opening day.
Mark Waugh was the other batsman at the crease on 25.
Australia lost Michael Slater off the third ball of the match when he edged left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan to Venkatsai Laxman at first slip.
Despite the early loss, Hayden and Justin Langer hit the bowlers around the ground to rattle up 67 in the first 40 minutes.
Langer, who made a run-a-ball 35, hit six boundaries and a six before off-spinner Harbhajan Singh beat him in the air and forced an easy catch to Rahul Dravid at first slip.
India would have been in a better position had debutant wicket-keeper Sameer Dighe, replacing the injured Nayan Mongia, not missed chances to run out Hayden and then stump Mark Waugh when he was on nine.
Hayden hit two sixes each off Harbhajan and Nilesh Kulkarni, bringing up his half-century with one that sailed into the crowd at long-on.
Leg-spinner Shane Warne was, meanwhile, retained in the Australian team despite coach John Buchanan's reservations. Off-spinner Colin Miller replaced fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz.
India went in with three spinners, debutant leggie Sairaj Bahutule and left-armer Kulkarni joining Calcutta Test hero Harbhajan.
The series is tied at 1-1 after India drew level in the second Test at Calcutta with a dramatic 171-run victory.