Bowlers bring India back as MCG Test hangs in balance

Zaheer Khan dismissed Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin in quick succession to bring India back into the match Getty Images

By Ashish Shukla

Melbourne: Dec 28, 2011

On a day of wildly fluctuating fortunes, India suffered a stunning batting collapse but their bowlers fought back brilliantly to leave the first cricket Test against Australia tantalisingly poised here on Wednesday.

Replying to Australia’s 333, the visitors lost eight wickets within 68 runs to be bundled out for 282 in their first innings before the bowlers led by the young Umesh Yadav brought them back in the match.

Australia were 179 for 8 in their second knock, leading India by 230 runs on a day when 15 wickets fell on what appears to be a difficult yet not an impossible MCG pitch.

Importantly for the hosts, under-fire veteran Michael Hussey (79) was still holding his ground though fortuitously since Rahul Dravid at first slip dropped a sitter off him when the left-hander was on 69.

Hussey, the highest scorer of the match so far, has now batted for 197 minutes and 134 balls and hit seven fours during the course of his fighting knock that has kept Australia in the hunt after yet another top-order batting collapse.

With two full days left in the game, India will look to restrict Australia’s lead to under-250 and push for victory while the hosts will also fancy their chances.

Umesh was the pick of Indian bowlers with 4 for 49 but no less significant was Zaheer Khan’s twin strikes off successive overs in the final session and the good support which Ishant Sharma and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin provided.

The hosts were precariously placed at 27 for four at one stage before former captain Ricky Ponting (60) and Hussey pulled things back with a 115-run fifth-wicket partnership.

India resumed the day on 214 for 3 but added only 68 runs before losing the final seven wickets on Wednesday.(PTI)

Brief Scores: Australia 333 (Ed Cowan 68, Ricky Ponting 62, Peter Siddle 41; Zaheer Khan 4 for 77, R Ashwin 3 for 81) & 179 for 8 (Michael Hussey 79*, Ricky Ponting 60, ; Umesh Yadav 4 for 49, Zaheer Khan 2 for 32) lead India 282 (Sachin Tendulkar 73, Rahul Dravid 68, Virender Sehwag 67; Ben Hilfenhaus 5 for 75, Peter Siddle 3 for 63) by 230 runs.

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