New Delhi, Oct 29 (UNI) A free-flowing innings from Sachin Tendulkar coupled with a solid 67 from Gautam Gambhir took India to a position of strength against Australia as the home team was 158 for three for at tea in the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Feroz Shah Kotla here today.
Tendulkar looked in supreme touch from ball one but was out at the stroke of tea on 68 off 124 balls, while Gambhir was holding the fort with VVS Laxman who had a single to his name.
Tendukar was looking good to take India to a formidable score but left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson brought delight to the Australian team's face as he forced the Indian to go for an expansive drive and the ball went straight into the hands of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
The session after the lunch saw India scoring 91 runs and it looked that the Indian batsmen would repeat a story of Mohali.
Gambhir and Tendulkar defied the Australian pace battery after the home team was reduced to 27 for two as opener Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid fell early under some testing morning conditions.
At the other end, Gambhir was rock solid and was rewarded for being watchful as he was ready to curb his strokes. Soon the wicket settled down and the local boy opened up to play some flashing drives on both sides of the wicket. Gambhir took 155 balls to score his 67 and had eight amazing hits to the fence.
Tendulkar looked in complete ease as he dispatched the Aussie bowlers all around the wicket and was almost dictating terms to the bowlers with his effortless shots.
While they looked in command against the Asustralian bowlers, the two also made sure that the visitors do not make any further inroads.
The right-left combination of Tendulkar and Gambhir did not allow the bowlers to settle and the two batsmen made use of every opportunity that came their way. From very early in his innings, Tendulkar displayed some great strokes as he timed two consecutive fours off Johnson and then continued the format.
Gambhir, after negotiating the fast bowlers early in his innings, grew with confidence and settled down to complement Tendulkar at the other end.
Soon after lunch, the two raised India's 100 in the 35th over and were growing in confidence with every run much to the concern of Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
Ponting, soon realised that the wicket had little to offer his bowlers and spread the field to check the scoring rate especially from Tendulkar.
But the change in field did not make an impact on the free-flowing Tendulkar who infact, increased the scoring rate. Tendulkar reached his half century with single off Stuart Clark from 79 deliveries and soon Gambhir also raised his 50 with two consecutive boundaries off leg-spinner Cameron White's first over.
The introduction of spinner lit up the Indian duo's eyes and saw them going after White who looked as ineffective as he has in all the three Tests so far.
But Ponting realised it soon that the spinner can hardly make an impact on the Indian batsmen and brought Shane Watson in place of White who was given just four overs in his first spell in which he gave away 27 runs.
Soon frustration began to creep in the Australian bowlers and a leg side glance from Gambhir forced Watson to exchange some words with the left-hander but even that could not deter his concentration.
However, another bowling change by Ponting saw the end of Tendulkar who was out to an angled bowl from Johnson much to the delight of the visting team and the sparse Australian fans.
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