New Delhi, Oct 31 (UNI) Virender Sehwag struck thrice as Australia battled to score 338 for four still needing 75 runs to avoid follow on against India at the end of the third day of the third Test match here today.
At stumps, Michael Clarke was batting on 21 with Shane Watson (4) after Matthew Hayden (83), Simon Katich (64), Ricky Ponting (87) and Michael Hussey (53) rode on their lucks to lay a solid foundation.
For India, Virender Sehwag turned out to be the surprise package claiming three prized wickets of Hayden, Ponting and Hussey after skipper Anil Kumble was forced to leave the ground due to injury to a finger of his left hand.
However, Sehwag did a creditable job on a turning Kotla track and could have easily had a few more to his tally.
India missed the services of Kumble, who had to be rushed to the hospital after he injured his finger while trying to attempt a tough catch of Hayden when the batsman was batting on 70.
Middle-order batsman Hussey was Sehwag's last victim as a genuine off-spinner from him castled the stumps. Hussey's over two-hour stay at the wicket fetched him 53 runs in 146 balls with seven fours.
Australian captain Ponting, who was always looking circumspect against the Indian spinners, was trying hard to read the balls and the batsman survived a number of close calls. Such was the plight of the visiting team's captain that at times even he could not do anything but to smile at his fate.
But Sehwag, eventually got better of the him and rattled his stumps as Ponting, while trying to drive the bowler, was beaten in flight and the ball turned to hit his middle stump.
Ponting fell short of his 100 by just 13 runs and had 165 balls in his 225-minute stay at the wicket with 14 hits to the fence.
Chasing a mamoth first innings total of 613 for seven declared, Australian batsmen looked in all sorts of trouble against the spinners - Amit Mishra, Sehwag and Kumble - but rubber the green went their way and the visitors somehow managed to pile a reasonably good total with just two more days left in the match.
Sehwag spun the ball a long way and missed the edges of the Australian batsmen on numerous occasions but his relentless line made sure that he does pick up atleast three wickets.
The Delhi lad returned with figures of 66 for three off his 22 overs in his 22 overs.
Success for the home team came through another local boy Amit Mishra who cleaned up opener Simon Katich. His figures read 95 for one off 30 overs although, even he looked good to capture a few more than that as he went past the edge number of times.
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