Ponting leads Aussie fightback
Captain Ricky Ponting hits 87 as top order rally to leave tourists on 338-4.
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2008 16:00 GMT

Ponting played a captain's innings [GALLO/GETTY]
Occasional off spinner Virender Sehwag grabbed three wickets but Ricky Ponting struck 87 as Australia reached 338 for four on the third day of the third Test against India.

Skipper Ponting led a top order fightback in reply to India's daunting first innings 613 for seven declared.

Sehwag bowled Ponting and Mike Hussey in the final session after trapping opener Matthew Hayden for 83 before tea.

At stumps on Friday, Michael Clarke was on 21 with Shane Watson on four, both surviving a few testing overs from Sehwag and leg spinner Amit Mishra on a pitch showing signs of wear and tear.

Hayden raised 123 runs with fellow opener Simon Katich, who made 64, before adding another 79 for the next wicket with Ponting in the first two sessions.

Good day

"It was a very good day for Australia," Hayden said.

"Four for 300 is a pretty good result and Australia is confident of the batting line-up to come.

"If Australia has a good first hour and sets up its play for the course of the day, no doubt the Indian camp will tire.

"The longer that we actually put time on the crease tomorrow, the more it is going to damage India."

Australia were coasting at 202 for one when Sehwag trapped Hayden leg before but Ponting added 82 runs for the third wicket with Hussey as the pair got on top of the Indian bowling attack.

However, Sehwag took three for 66 from 22 overs on his home ground to bolster an attack already without injured off spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Kumble cut

Dhoni delights in Ponting's wicket [GALLO/GETTY]
Skipper Anil Kumble was also forced off the field after lunch when the team's lead spinner suffered a bad cut on his left little finger after dropping Hayden on 70 and had to be taken to hospital.

A team official said he received about 10 stitches to the injury.

Australian top order batsmen rallied the side, down after a crushing 320-run loss in the second Test followed by India's huge first innings total.

Hayden led the scoring after Australia resumed after lunch on 151-1, playing powerful shots against Mishra and Sehwag.

Hayden, under pressure after failing so far in the series, finally regained form until he was beaten by Sehwag, playing back to a delivery which straightened after pitching.

He hit 13 fours and a six in his 154-ball effort. Ponting, who scored 123 in the drawn first Test in Bangalore, eased into his innings and rotated the strike initially before opening out to attack left-arm Zaheer Khan and spin.

Removal man

He survived a testing spell of reverse-swing bowling with the old ball from Ishant Sharma, who has removed him three times this series.

Ponting, who hit 14 fours, got bogged down before Sehwag, back for a fresh spell, beat the batsman as he stepped out of the crease to play a flighted delivery.

The players hit the deck as a swarm of bees descends [GALLO/GETTY]
Sehwag bowled Hussey for 53 in the dying moments of the day when he beat the batsman playing defensively to knock back off-stump, gaining sharp turn despite the second new ball only a few overs old.

Indian opener Gautam Gambhir was handed a one-Test ban for a code breach following his clash with Watson on the first day.

The Indian board said they would appeal against the verdict.

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