Australia will need to scrap desperately for the remainder of the
second Test match if they are to avoid a heavy defeat to an Indian side
that tightened their hold on the tourists on day three in Mohali.
Watson’s highest Test score was not enough to lift the Australians past
the follow-on mark but India stand-in captain Mahendra Dhoni decided
not to enforce it.
From the depths of 7-167, Watson (78) and Brett Lee (35) took the tourists to 268 all out in reply to India’s 469.
Sehwag (53no) and Gautam Gambhir (46no) then batted with impunity in
the 23 overs to stumps to reach 0-100, an overall lead of 301.
home side’s advantage was due in large part to legspinner Amit Mishra,
whose figures of 5-71 made him the sixth Indian to take five on debut
and the first since legspinner and now selector Narendra Hirwani’s
astonishing 16-wicket match haul against West Indies in 1988.
has presented the home selectors with a headache, given that he was
only included here due to the withdrawal of injured captain Anil Kumble.
Singh (2-60), Zaheer Khan (1-56) and Ishant Sharma (2-68) all offered
fine support, Harbhajan ending the stand between Watson and Lee.
batsman Mike Hussey (54) and Watson had moved the score along briskly
enough in the first 30 minutes, only for Hussey to touch a well-pitched
ball from Sharma on its way through to Dhoni.
Many of Watson’s early runs came through edges, nudges and deflections, but his was a shrewd approach to the turning ball.
risk inherent in any attempt to play aggressively against the spinners
was made patently clear when Brad Haddin departed for nine.
a drive down the ground, Haddin failed to get to the pitch of a
Harbhajan off break that gripped and turned through a yawning gap
between bat and pad to uproot off stump.
His demise was to be
echoed by Cameron White (5) who, like Michael Clarke on the second
evening, was unable to read Mishra’s well disguised googly.
Pushing out in defence, White was bowled comprehensively through the gate, to leave Watson alone as the last recognised batsman.
found a useful offsider in Lee, who never looked entirely comfortable
in defence but used his reach and a commendably straight bat to help
blunt a previously rampant Indian attack.
authority the longer he survived, and went to a maiden Test half
century by first depositing Mishra over midwicket for six then pulling
Sharma percussively to the rope.
Together the pair seemed able to bat well beyond tea, but 10 minutes before the break Lee nicked Harbhajan’s topspinner to slip.
pair of boundaries after tea took Watson within sight of a century,
before Mishra bowled a flatter leg break that straightened just enough
to find the batsman lbw when he chose not to press far enough forward.
Last man Peter Siddle was soon stumped to leave India with a 201-run advantage that was to swell considerably by the close.
and Gambhir then climbed into a flat-looking Australian attack, quickly
forcing visiting captain Ricky Ponting to post purely defensive fields.