Mohali, Oct.20 : India were nicely poised to defeat Australia in the second of four Tests being played here. On Monday, Australia was struggling at 141 for five after being asked by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to chase down a target of 516.
The tormentors from the Indian side turned out to be Harbahjan Singh and Ishant Sharma, who took five wickets for nine runs during a nine-over spell this afternoon.
The Australians began their effort in crazy fashion, with openers Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich attempting to hit their way out of trouble. They scored 49 in seven overs before Harbhajan nabbed 3-3 in two overs on either side of tea.
Fast bowler Ishant Sharma (2-29) exploited the breach superbly, defeating both Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson to have the tourists reeling at stumps on the fourth day. Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke on an unbeaten 42 and wicket keeper Brad Haddin on an unbeaten 37 were at the crease, hoping to salvage a draw on the fifth day.
A win here will put India in the driver's seat to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which it surrendered during the 2007-08 tour Down Under.
There was never any realistic prospect of Australia chasing down a target 98 runs in excess of anything successfully pursued in Test history.
Hayden went leg before wicket to Harbhajan for 29, while Katich (20) foolishly tried to drive Harbhajan's final ball before tea, resulting in a miscued lob that was caught spectacularly by a diving Sachin Tendulkar at point.
After the break, Mike Hussey went back to pull Harbhajan through midwicket, but the ball skidded on to beat his horizontal bat and result in another lbw.
Ponting's (2) struggled against Sharma and was finally bowled by an off-cutter. It was the fifth time in as many matches that the Australian skipper has fallen to Sharma.
Watson (2) also met a similar fate, falling LBW to Sharma.
India earlier strode to 3-314 before Dhoni called a halt with a lead of 515.
Openers Virender Sehwag (90) and Gautam Gambhir (104) pushed their stand to 182 in just 39 overs before Sehwag was dismissed by debutant Peter Siddle (1-62).
Dhoni made a statement of sorts by promoting himself in the order to No.3 and making an unbeaten, rapid-fire 68.
Gambhir's century was a just reward after his 67 on the first day went a long way to setting the game up for India.
Mitchell Johnson was denied Sehwag's wicket when a clear edge behind was not spotted by Rauf, an incident that appeared to cause Ponting to ask Sehwag why he had not walked.