Oz retaliates after sporting declaration; reduces India to 41 for 2

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Bangalore, Oct 13 (UNI) After setting a sporting target of 299, Australia struck back hard, reducing India to 41 for 2 at lunch on the final day of the opening Test of the four-match series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy being played at M Chinnaswamy stadium here today.

Earlier, Ricky Ponting made a sporting declaration at 238 for six setting a target of 299 to be made in 83 overs.

Gautam Gambhir (13 batting) and Sachin Tendular (16 batting) were at the crease at the lunch break.

India made a disasterous start, losing key batsmen in Virender Sehwag (6) and Dravid (5) after the home team made a cautious start in pursuit of the tricky target on the fifth day's wicket which had variable bounce and widening cracks.

Sehwag showed early promise, whipping Stuart Clark to the cover boundary in his first over, but soon left. Clark had the last laugh in the sixth over of the Indian innings when he had Sehwag caught by Mathew Hayden who showed fine reflexes, taking a sharp dive to his left at the first slip when the ball went off the back of the bat while the batsman tried to play the ball to square leg. The Delhi batsmen failed to take advantage of a life offered by Brad Haddin who dropped him at the score of five.

India's problems mounted when Dravid fell to a brilliant catch by Ponting. Brett Lee, bowling with fire, sent a full pitched delivery and as Dravid tried to clip, Ponting lunged forward from the short midwicket area to complete a superb catch to leave India at 24-2.

Tendulkar, who came in at Dravid's fall, showed some aggression in contrast to Gautam Gambhir who went into a huddle right from the start.

The master blaster began well, hitting Clark to the fence and later hit Johnson to the fence twice off consecutive balls in his fifth over. Gambhir, who was overcautious, took 61 balls to make 13.

Earlier, Ponting made a sporting declaration when Australia reached 228 for six in the morning, set a challenging target on the fifth day's wicket which had no devils in it but batting was nevertheless difficult due to its slow nature. The cracks had widened and it offered variable bounce to post a challenge to the Indians.

Watson and wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin added exactly 100 runs to the sixth wicket, which included 35 runs today. This partnership had pulled Australia out of trouble after they were 128 for five at one stage yesterday.

Haddin (35) and Cameron White (18) remained unbeaten. Watson was clean bowled by Ishant in the 70th over of the Aussie innings and Ponting effected the declaration three overs later.

UNI MSP-RS AB PM1239

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