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India prosper as Aussies wilt in the heat in final Test - by Kuldip Lal


MADRAS, India, March 19 (AFP) - India caused a dramatic Australian slump and then batted aggressively to force their way back in the third and decisive Test here on Monday.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh grabbed seven wickets as the Australians collapsed from 340-3 to 391 all out in their first innings despite Matthew Hayden's 203.

Indian opener Shiv Das then put on 123 for the first wicket with Sadagopan Ramesh and 88 for the unbroken second with Venkatsai Laxman to lift the hosts to 211-1 by stumps on the second day.

Das was unbeaten at close on 84 with 10 boundaries and a six over deep mid-wicket off Shane Warne.

Laxman, who hit India's record score of 281 in the second Test, continued his superb form with 59 not out off just 69 balls.

Left-hander Ramesh made 61 before he was snapped at silly point off Warne soon after tea.

A full house of 45,000 witnessed a titanic struggle between bat and ball as the rivals slugged it out to break the 1-1 deadlock in the series.

Australia, resuming at the overnight score of 326-3, lost their last seven wickets for 51 runs after captain Steve Waugh fell victim to the rare dismissal of handling the ball.

The 135-Test veteran palmed the ball with his right hand as it appeared to be going towards the stumps following an attempted sweep off Harbhajan in the sixth over of the day.

Indian umpire Avi Jayaprakash, who had rejected the Indian appeal for leg-before, raised his finger as soon as the incident occured.

Unfortunately for Harbhajan, the laws of the game do not credit such a dismissal to the bowler.

It was only the sixth instance in Test cricket, and the first since Graham Gooch was dismissed against Australia at Old Trafford in 1993, that a batsman was given out handling the ball.

The Indians made a rollicking start, reaching 107 for no loss by tea and then adding 104 in the final session.

Warne, sporting a bald pate to beat the oppressive heat and humidity here, was smashed for 73 runs from just 20 overs.

His spin partner Colin Miller also took the stick, conceding 64 runs from his 18 overs.

"It was the prefect day for us," Indian captain Sourav Ganguly said.

"We needed wickets badly this morning and Harbhajan delivered once more.

"But I was delighted at the way we have batted. It's taken the pressure off the remaining batsmen and we must get a big score now."

Australian coach John Buchanan, however, said his team was not out of the game.

"There's a lot of cricket left in this Test, it's by no means over," Buchanan said.

"One..two wickets in the morning could bring it back for us."

Waugh's unusual dismissal for 47, which Buchanan termed "unfortunate", saw three wickets fall in the space of 12 deliveries to reduce Australia to 344-6.

Harbhajan had a hand in all seven dismissals in the morning session, finishing with figures of 7-133.

It was the third successive major haul for the 20-year-old, who took 13 wickets in the Calcutta Test to help India level the series.

Hayden, who made 147 on the first day, took his score to 203 before he was last man out, holing out in the deep against Harbhajan.

The left-hander hit 15 boundaries and six sixes during his eight-hour vigil at the crease.

Adam Gilchrist, who bagged a king pair at Calcutta -- out first ball in both innings trying to sweep -- fell to the same stroke for the third time.







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