Final Session, Day 4
The Second and Final Test at Bangalore too is heading towards an unpredictable finish on the final day just like the first one at Mohali. This was after Australia were reduced to 202 for 7 in 65 overs by Stumps on the fourth day which gave them an overall lead of 185 runs. Now how much target is defendable remains to be seen as the Aussies no longer have a McGrath or a Warne and not even a Brett Lee or a Doug Bollinger! Having said that the factor favouring the Aussies is that the pitch has plenty of uneven bounce and is conducive for early reverse swing.
After Tea, Pragyan Ojha provided a massive breakthrough by getting one to turn in sharply to hit the pad of Mike Hussey (20) for an lbw to break a 61-run stand with Ponting. A magic off break which drifted in around middle but spun away to hit the off stump from Harbhajan Singh saw an early exit for first innings centurion Marcus North.
The visitors slipped to 131 for 5 before Ponting managed a 50-run stand with Wicket Keeper Tim Paine. Tactics were changed by MS Dhoni as he brought back his two quicks and both struck vital blows with the aid of reverse swing. First Zaheer Khan swung the ball late into Ponting (72 from 117 balls with 7 fours and a six) to get an lbw and then Paine (23) lost his cool to play a flashy drive off a wide outswinger from Sreesanth to be caught behind. Australia were back in huge trouble at 185 for 7 but managed 17 more runs without losing a wicket before the close. Pragyan Ojha was the star for India with 25-5-57-3.
Afternoon Session, Day 4
Australia are under pressure at 94 for 3 in 30 overs by Tea to hold onto a second innings lead of only 77. India fought back superbly through the spin twins of Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh to recover from a 58-run opening stand between Shane Watson and Simon Katich.
Pragyan Ojha provided the much needed first breakthrough with a drifter that had Watson (32 from 58 balls) hit on the pad for an lbw in the 17th over. Within the next three balls, Harbhajan Singh had Simon Katich (24) edge behind a turning off break. By Tea, Pragyan Ojha got one more wicket with a ripping delivery that turned away from middle to beat a forward defence and drag Michael's Clarke's backfoot on the line while MS Dhoni pulled off a quick stumping.
Aussies were now at 65 for 3 and a bit of partnership between Ponting (28*) and Hussey (5*) saw them through for Tea.
Morning Session, Day 4
India could manage only a slender first innings lead of 17 runs as the Aussies wrapped up things just at the stroke of Lunch on the fourth day. The hosts were bowled out for 495 in 144.5 overs with five wickets going down this morning with the addition of 60 runs in 22.5 overs. Sachin Tendulkar did go past a 6th double century though and it was his wicket that opened up for a quick finish of the Indian innings.
Tendulkar stayed back to a fullish ball from debutant Peter George and under edged a cut shot onto the stumps to get bowled but not before scoring an epic 214 from 363 balls. Sachin struck 22 fours and 2 sixes. After him, the capable Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan followed him back to the pavilion in quick succession. Harbhajan Singh inside edged a flick shot onto his pad and was caught at mid wicket off Watson while Zaheer drove Peter George uppishly into the hands of covers.
At 494 for 8, MS Dhoni decided to farm the strike which proved to be a mistake and he soon got out edging a Nathan Hauritz straighter one to slip. Dhoni could only get 30 runs having batted out for 80 balls. Sreesanth was the last man to be dismissed with less than five minutes to go for lunch.