Clarke rallies Australian fightback
Vice-captain scores century as Australia are all out for 577 and India 42-2 at stumps.
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2008 13:53 GMT

Michael Clarke digs deep to avoid the follow-on [AFP]
A gritty century from vice-captain Michael Clarke and two late wickets erased Australia's fears of defeat in the third cricket test as the visitors ended the fourth day just 79 runs behind India.

Part-time offspinner Virender Sehwag broke through for his maiden five-wicket haul, but Clarke's stout resistance in his knock of 112 meant it would be difficult for either side to manufacture a result on the final day.

The hosts took a 36-run lead when they dismissed Australia for 577, their highest total in India, late in the afternoon, but lost Virender Sehwag and night watchman Ishant Sharma in reaching 43-2 at stumps.

Sehwag was bowled by Brett Lee for 16 before Sharma (1) popped a catch to Ricky Ponting in the next over from Stuart Clark.

Gautam Gambhir was unbeaten on 21 at stumps while Rahul Dravid was on 5.

Likely draw

India lead the series 1-0 and are unlikely to risk setting Australia a reachable target on the final day, meaning the series will probably be decided in the final test starting in Nagpur on Thursday.

Clarke, who struck six fours and a six in his 253-ball knock, was well supported by Cameron White as the pair batted through most of the middle session and combined for a 106-run stand for the seventh wicket.

White, who lifted Anil Kumble for a straight six, recorded his highest score in his three-test career with a valuable 44 from 95 deliveries before playing the ball onto his stumps while attempting a sweep off Sehwag just before tea, giving the Indian his fifth wicket.

Kumble  hugs Virendra Sehwag after taking the wicket of Shane Watson [AFP] 
Clarke patient

Clarke was patient throughout a difficult innings and survived three chances, including one when he was missed at mid-off by Sharma before he had added to his overnight 21.

Another reprieve came on 91 when  Laxman spilled a simple opportunity
from a top-edged sweep off Sehwag, who was also the unfortunate bowler in his next over, as Amit Mishra dropped a chance in the deep when Clarke was on 94.

He brought up his century with a cut for two through point from the ball before tea and after the break was ninth out after hitting Mishra to Zaheer Khan at long off.

Sehwag, who finished with 5-104, removed Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and
Michael Hussey on day three, and claimed another wicket on the fourth morning
by bowling Shane Watson for 36.

His previous best figures of 3-12 came against South Africa in Kanpur in April.

Brett Lee takes the wicket of Sehwag late in the fourth day [AFP]
Kumble injury

Watson and Clarke negotiated the first hour after the pair resumed at 338-4.

Their 73-run partnership for the fifth wicket ended when Watson moved too far across the stumps and was bowled by Sehwag.

Sehwag took on a heavier bowling load on Friday after captain Kumble was forced to get treatment for a split webbing on his left hand.

Kumble, who required stitches for the wound and wore a large bandage, returned to bowl in Saturday's opening session and took his first wicket of the series when he had wicketkeeper Brad Haddin stumped for 17, leaving Australia at 426-6.

Lee became Kumble's second victim, falling lbw for 8 after trying to sweep, and he took a fine running catch to remove Mitchell Johnson caught-and-bowled to end the inning.

Kumble finished with figures of 3-112.

Australia's total of 577 bettered their 574-7 declared in Chennai in 1986, and was their second highest in all tests against India, behind the match in Adelaide in 1948.

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