Sehwag foils Aussie fightback on Day III

New Delhi, October 31:

Part-time off-spinner Virender Sehwag picked three key wickets to thwart Australia’s grim fightback on the third day of the third Test today.

Sehwag denied centuries to captain Ricky Ponting (87) and Matthew Hayden (83) before dismissing Michael Hussey (53) as the tourists finished on 338-4 in reply to India’s imposing 613-7 declared. They are still 275 runs behind with six wickets in hand.

The tourists, who trail the four-Test series 1-0 after a 320-run thrashing in Mohali, must avoid defeat here if they are to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy, with one Test to go after this.

Michael Clarke was batting on 21 with Shane Watson on four at close after surviving some close chances against the spinners, who managed to extract good turn from the track.

Ponting hit 14 fours in his 163-ball knock and also shared a vital 82-run stand with the Hussey.

The Australian skipper looked set for his 37th century following his 123 in the drawn Bangalore opener but was bowled by Sehwag, who gave away just 66 runs off his impressive 22 overs.

Hayden, 37, too looked in ominous form, belting 13 fours and a towering six in his 154-ball knock for his highest score in the series so far. The left-handed Queenslander shared 123 runs for the opening wicket with Simon Katich (64) and another 79 with Ponting to lay the platform for Australia’s reply. His fine innings ended when he was trapped leg-before with a ball that dipped in sharply.

The hosts meanwhile had an injury scare involving captain Anil Kumble, who had to be taken to hospital for precautionary scans after he hurt the little finger of his left hand while attempting to take a sharp catch of Hayden. Australia, 50-0 overnight, were off to a steady start with Hayden and Katich putting on their highest opening stand of the series. Katich looked fluent in his strokeplay, hitting 10 fours and completing his 10th Test fifty in the process.

Three times Katich hit paceman Ishant Sharma for fours and also appeared at ease against Kumble, who conceded 53 runs off his 17 overs.

Gambhir banned

NEW DELHI: Indian opener Gautam Gambhir was on Friday banned for one Test for his on-field clash with Australian all-rounder Shane Watson during the third Test here.

Gambhir, top scorer for the hosts with 206 in the first innings, will miss the fourth and final Test against Australia in Nagpur from November 6-10, the International Cricket Council (ICC). However, the Indian cricket board said in a press release that Gambhir would lodge an appeal against the verdict. Gambhir, 27, appeared to elbow Watson after the all-rounder seemed to mutter something to the Indian batsman as he took a second run in the 51st over of Wednesday’s play.

“The decision to find Gambhir guilty of a level two offence is indicative of the fact that any degree of physical contact is unacceptable,” match referee Chris Broad said in the statement. Broad said that the minimum penalty would usually be a two-Test ban but in this case there were mitigating factors. “In the view of the umpires, facts of this case — the lightness of the physical conduct and element of provocation — would not justify such a penalty.”

Gambhir was informed of the decision on Friday before the start of the third day’s play. — AFP