Cricket

Sharma takes triple strike

2010-10-04 08:35
Ishant Sharma (AP)

Mohali - Ishant Sharma grabbed three big wickets in two overs to end Australia's early flourish in the opening Test against India on Monday.

The tourists were strongly placed at 87 for no loss after an attractive half-century from opener Shane Watson (56), but slipped to 100-3 in their second innings at lunch on the fourth day for an overall lead of 123.

Opener Simon Katich completed 4 000 Test runs during his unbeaten 24, while Michael Hussey had yet to open his account at the break.

India were bowled out for 405 in their first innings on Sunday in reply to Australia's 428.

Fast bowler Sharma removed Watson and skipper Ricky Ponting (four) in his first over of the second spell and nearly got a third wicket when he had Michael Clarke caught by Virender Sehwag at short mid-wicket.

But it was declared a no-ball after on-field umpire Billy Bowden of New Zealand consulted TV umpire Sanjay Hazare.

Sharma did not have to wait long for his next success as he had Clarke caught behind for four runs in his next over. He took three wickets for eight runs in his second three-over spell.

In-form Watson, who hit a hundred in the first innings, smashed one six and seven fours in his 59-ball knock before playing a Sharma delivery on to his stumps while attempting to pull.

Ponting lasted just four deliveries, pulling Sharma to Suresh Raina at backward square-leg.

Watson, who also scored a century in each innings of a practice match before the Test, batted aggressively in the morning session, punishing both seamers and spinners on an easy-paced track.

With Sharma looking unimpressive in his opening two-over spell, India introduced spin after just five overs but failed to put pressure on the Australian openers.

Watson greeted left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha with a four and then a six over long-on in the same over. He completed his 10th Test half-century off just 51 balls, flicking off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for two runs.

The second and final Test starts in Bangalore on October 9.

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