Vol. 4 Num 218 Mon. January 05, 2004  

Australia endangered

Steve Waugh was out for a deflating 40 in his farewell Test as Australia were confronted with a desperate fight to save the fourth and series-deciding match against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

The Australian skipper, the most influential world cricketer of his era, was given a rapturous welcome by the capacity home-town crowd who willed on his every run.

But a stunned silence greeted his demise nine overs before stumps on the third day.

With Waugh's downfall Australia lurched into further trouble with the wicket of big-hitting Adam Gilchrist in a Test that Saurav Ganguly's tourists have dominated with an avalanche of runs since winning the toss on Day One.

Experienced leg-spinner Anil Kumble was causing problems for the Australians on a cracking SCG pitch that was expected to turn more over the final days.

Kumble had taken 4-103 off 31 overs, while young paceman Irfan Pathan was the surprise packet claiming the key wickets of Waugh and Gilchrist.

At the close, Australia were 342 for six and still 164 runs from the follow-on target of 506.

The Australians are under threat of losing a first-ever home series to India and their first home-series defeat since going down 2-1 to the West Indies in 1992-93.

At stumps, Simon Katich was unbeaten on 51 with Brett Lee yet to score.

"We still have to get four wickets and the wicket is going to get harder as the game goes on ... I think we have a very good chance to win," Kumble said.

India batted on into the third day further building their imposing first innings to a record 705 for seven before Ganguly declared with Sachin Tendulkar reaching his highest first-class score.

Australia began bullishly after India's monumental total with Justin Langer hitting 17 boundaries and a huge six for his second hundred of the series and 17th overall.

The home side piled on 161 runs at five an over in the two hours after lunch to be 210 for one at tea.

But the little left-hander was out for 117 off 149 balls shortly after tea to Kumble when he attempted a pull shot and skied a catch at mid-wicket for wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.

Langer combined in an opening stand of 147 with Matthew Hayden their 10th since coming together against England at The Oval in August 2001.

Hayden cracked 12 fours and a six in his 67 off 88 balls. However, he hit against the spin of Kumble and skied a catch to Ganguly at deep mid-on.

Ricky Ponting, who topped the 2003 calendar year with 1,503 runs at 100.20, was out for 25, trapped leg before wicket to Kumble four overs later.

Damien Martyn struggled before he was out meekly caught and bowled by Kumble for seven.

But the crowd's fervent wish for a fairy-tale Waugh century in his last appearance was crushed with his downfall and with it the chance of something extraordinary happening in a Test that has been ebbing away from Australia.

Pathan produced a swinging delivery that left Waugh and had him caught behind, and then in the day's penultimate over he spreadeagled Gilchrist's stumps with an inswinging yorker to bowl him out for six and finish the day with 2-46 off 15 overs.

Tendulkar hit the second-highest Test score by an Indian as his team reached its highest Test innings before declaring.

Tendulkar remained unconquered on 241 in 613 minutes with 33 fours when skipper Ganguly called a halt to India's run onslaught at 705 for seven off 187.3 overs.

Only teammate VVS Laxman has scored more runs for India 281 against Australia in Calcutta in March 2001.

India's total topped the previous best of 676 for seven against Sri Lanka at Kanpur in 1986-87 and was the highest by a visiting team in Australia.

It was Tendulkar's highest first-class score and took him to 9,205 Test career runs at 57.17 in his 111th Test.

Australia claimed two wickets on Sunday. Patel hit a breezy 62 off 50 balls before he was caught behind pulling at a Lee lifter.

Lee also claimed the wicket of Ajit Agarkar, bowling him with a yorker for two.

Lee became only the second Australian bowler to concede 200 runs in a Test innings when he finished with 4-201 off 39.3 overs.

Left-arm spin bowler Chuck Fleetwood-Smith holds the unwanted distinction of conceding the most runs in a Test innings of 1-298 off 87 overs against England at The Oval in 1938.