Melbourne : Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh prevented Australia from running away with the first Test on the third day by claiming two wickets in the pre-lunch session at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here Friday.
At the lunch break, the hosts were 135 for two. Australia, who had a 147-run first innings lead after bowling India out for 196, were 282 ahead with Phil Jaques batting on 49 and Mike Hussey on 29.
Resuming at 32 for no loss, Jaques and Matthew Hayden played aggressively in an attempt to bat India out of the Test by setting an improbable fourth-innings target.
Jaques continued his tremendous form and was within a whisker of his sixth consecutive fifty in Tests and also being the team’s leading run-getter this year.
Hayden, in a mood to dominate the proceedings, was the first to go. Trying to clear Sourav Ganguly at long-off, he failed to measure Harbhajan’s flight and turn and the former India captain had ample time to get under the skier to take the catch. The left-handed opener was severe on Zaheer Khan playing his now famous walk-down-the-pitch shots.
Ricky Ponting fell next to Harbhajan, when the off-spinner bamboozled him with one that reared unexpectedly and he could only edge it to Rahul Dravid at slip. It was unusual for the Australian skipper to fail twice in a match, scoring only four in the first innings and three in the second.
The two quick reversals slowed Australia down, with Harbhajan and Anil Kumble pegging away.