Nagpur test: Aus tightens grip

Australia have tightened their grip on the second day of the crucial third cricket test in Nagpur today.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
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India's famed top order batsmen put up a spineless display to allow a disciplined Australia to take a tight grip on the second day of the crucial third cricket test in Nagpur today. After restricting Australia to 398 in their first innings, the Indian frontline batsmen succumbed meekly to leave the home team gasping at 146 for five at close, still needing 53 runs to avoid the follow on. The battery of Australian pace bowlers, particularly Glenn McGrath who is making his 100th Test appearance, exploited the grassy track at the VCA stadium to rip through the top order on a day which saw the balance tilt heavily in favour of the tourists. Kaif, Patel hold fort Mohammad Kaif (47) and Parthiv Patel (16) did quite well to remain unbeaten at stumps with the hosts desperately looking to their lower order batsmen to avoid the ignominy of a follow on. The Indians were reeling at 103 for five at one stage before Kaif and Patel added some vital runs to take the score closer to the follow on target on an eventful day which saw as many as eight wickets fall. The Indians did well in the morning session to polish off the Australian tail within an hour but plunged into trouble straightaway as Virender Sehwag (22), Aakash Chopra (9), Sachin Tendulkar (8), VVS Laxman (13) and Rahul Dravid (21) perished cheaply. Top order lets down Sehwag struck four boundaries off Gillespie in the very first over he faced but then poked at an outside off delivery from McGrath to give Adam Gilchrist his 250th dismissal in tests. Laxman returned to the pavilion in similar fashion, striking Gillespie for three fours immediately on arrival before playing a reckless cut off Warne for a simple catch at point. Chopra also failed to justify his recall in place of Yuvraj Singh. Gillespie came back strongly from the battering he took from Sehwag and claimed his first wicket when Chopra tried to run him down to third man, only to end up with a regulation catch to Warne at first slip. Sachin disappoints Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, playing his first match in three months, looked less troubled by the elbow injury. But the batting ace could not survive for long as he was rapped on the pads by Gillespie for eight. At the other end, Dravid seemed caught in a shell. The stand-in captain found it difficult to break the shackles placed around him by the relentless Australian fast bowlers. Dravid and Kaif built up a stand of 28 runs in 17.4 overs before the former pushed forward to McGrath and edged to the slip cordon. Well planned seam attack India struggled right through against a well-planned Australian seam attack with the hosts tottering at 95 for four after 45 overs. In fact, the ball dominated the bat on the second day with only 182 runs being scored in 87 overs while eight wickets fell. After Dravid's departure in the post-tea period, Kaif and the gutsy Patel came together to rally the Indians nicely with the right mix of caution and aggression. The duo produced the best partnership of the innings so far with an unconquered stand of 43 in 24 overs. Good work Earlier the visitors were dismissed for 398 from an overnight score 362-7, with their last six wickets falling for just 84 runs. Jason Gillespie fell leg before wicket to Zaheer Khan for 9 reducing Australia to 376 for eight. Ajit Agarkar struck in the next over sending Michael Kasprowicz back to the pavilion for a duck. Kasprowicz was caught behind by Parthiv Patel. Michael Clarke, who was looking to score his second Test century, was run out on 91. (With PTI inputs)