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India on backfoot chasing 216!

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Ben Hilfenhaus MohaliA target of 216 at Mohali sounds like a pretty easy one to chase but not if the team is already 55 for 4 with the bowlers having their tails up. That is exactly the situation for India in the Mohali Test as they need still 161 runs to win with only Sachin Tendulkar, a not-so-fit VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni being the recognised batsmen. Swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus used the rising deliveries to good effect to put India on the backfoot by taking three wickets which included that of Sehwag and Raina.

The fourth day started with the Australians starting their second innings fresh after taking a slender lead of 23 runs. They got to an electrifying start from Shane Watson as MS Dhoni struggled to get his combinations right! It was only in the 19th over that Watson attempted an ambitious pull shot off the frontfoot which led to his downfall via a bottom edge which was dragged onto the stumps. The bowler providing the much needed breakthrough was Ishant Sharma who until then had little to offer in this game apart from a useful knock as a nightwatchman. Watson smacked 56 from 59 balls with 7 fours and a six.

In the same over that Watson got dismissed, Ishant removed Ricky Ponting who pulled him flat and straight into the hands of Raina at backward squareleg in the fifth ball of the 19th over. In the very next ball, Ishant had Clarke flicking him straight into the hands of mid wicket but it was not out with the bowler overstepping. Luckily, Ishant managed to get rid of Clarke without paying heavily. It was a nasty lifter from Ishant which Clarke fended off the glove MS Dhoni. Australia went to lunch at 100 for 3 in 23 overs.

Between Lunch and Tea, India managed to pick three more wickets with all the three left handers – Katich, Hussey and North getting dismissed. While Katich (37 from 118 balls) was caught behind off Ojha to a ball that slided across his bat rather than turning back, the other two left handers were removed by Harbhajan Singh just before Tea. Michael Hussey was wrongly given out lbw after missing a paddle sweep round his legs and Marcus North was caught at silly point after inside edging onto the pad. Australia at Tea were wobbling at 165 for 6 in 49.5 overs.

The post lunch session saw the return of Zaheer Khan as he cleaned up the Aussie second innings with some deadly reverse swing. First it was Pragyan Ojha forcing Paine to dab a turning ball to silly point and the last three wickets all fell to Zaheer. Ben Hilfenhaus was the last man out getting yorked by Zaheer Khan and that was the 250th wicket for the left armer. Zaheer and Ishant picked up three wickets each while the two spinners – Harbhajan and Ojha got two wickets each as Australia got bowled out for 192 in 60.5 overs to leave a target of 216.

In their chase, India lost Gambhir in the first over itself when he was given lbw though there was an inside edge onto the pad. Hilfenhaus was the lucky bowler to get the wicket. Doug Bollinger got the next wicket when Rahul Dravid poked at a wide away swinger to get caught behind. Ben Hilfenhaus returned back for a new spell just few minutes before the close and dislodged the dangerous Sehwag and Raina with short and rising deliveries. Sehwag (17) was careless in guiding the ball in the air and was caught at gully and Raina was gone for a 3-ball duck after fending to North at wide gully.

Zaheer Khan was sent in as the night watchman and he saw the last 15 minutes of play safely with Tendulkar (10*) and India finished at 55 for 4 in 17 overs needing another 161 runs. As many as 14 wickets fell down in this action packed day’s play!

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