Set 333 to win, India battling to save Sydney Test


Sydney : If any team can win the Sydney Test, it will be Australia and that’s what their skipper Ricky Ponting made sure of by batting India out of the match by setting a stiff 333-run target in a little over two sessions on the final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) here Sunday.

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As India went in to bat, they knew it is a daunting task as the highest successful fourth-innings chase was by Australia when they made 288 for two to beat South Africa two seasons ago.

Mike Hussey hit an unbeaten 145, his fourth hundred in four home Tests this season against Sri Lanka and India, before Australia declared at 401 for seven, 17 minutes before lunch.

Ponting’s strategy was to push India on the back-foot and defend so that he could attack them in the minimum 72 overs they have to do the job. They have begun well on their way to a record-equalling 16th consecutive victory by dismissing Indian opener Wasim Jaffer for a fourth-ball duck, caught behind off Brett Lee, to leave India six for one at lunch. Rahul Dravid was on two and V.V.S. Laxman four.

Resuming at the overnight 282 for four, the Australians added 119 runs losing three wickets in the chase.

Hussey and first-innings century-maker Andrew Symonds made things simpler for Ponting to chalk out his plan by adding 128 for the fifth wicket before the latter was out caught behind off Rudra Pratap Singh for 61. In quest for quick runs, Adam Gilchrist and Brad Hogg perished, but Hussey remained not out to improve his already staggering Test average and hit 16 fours in his knock.

India’s skipper Anil Kumble took four wickets in a long bowl of 40 overs to finish the match with eight wickets.