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Johnson strikes, India concede lead

Last updated on: October 03, 2010 19:19 IST

- Scorecard

Australia hit back strongly in the third and final session on Day 3 of the first Test against India, at Mohali on Sunday, to take a slender first innings lead.

Replying to Australia's first innings score of 428, the home team mustered 405 in their first essay. Cruising at one stage, India lost as many as six wickets in the final session.

The result: a first innings lead of 23 to the visitors.

Sachin Tendulkar top-scored for India; he missed out on a ton, but his knock helped the team consolidate. The Master Blaster was adjudged leg before to Marcus North when on 98.

Suresh Raina's 86 was the next best contribution in the Indian total. And when the two were batting in tandem, India looked set for a mammoth first innings total.

Then, they somehow lost the plot.

Mitchell JohnsonMitchell Johnson was the most successful Australian bowler, with figures of five for 64. The left-arm quick provided his team the breakthroughs at crucial moments, when the game seemed to be slipping out of their clutches.

It was Johnson's sixth five-wicket haul in his 37th Test. It was also the first occasion he claimed a fiver against India, his previous best being 4 for 70 at Bangalore in 2008.

Doug Bollinger also impressed, taking two for 49.

However, the Australian fielding left a lot to be desired. They seemed to have taken a leaf out of the host's book and were in a generous mood, dropping catches or missing stumpings.

Had their fielding been its actual self, it would suffice to say that India's position would have been worse and the visitor's lead bigger.

Morning session: (81 runs, 28 overs, 1 wicket)

Nathan Hauritz opened the bowling for the visitors alongside Mitchell Johnson. However, Ben Hilfenhaus replaced the latter after he bowled only two overs.

Only 11 runs came off the first eight overs. The first boundary of the day came in the ninth over when an edge off Dravid's blade (off Hilfenhaus) went between the fielders.

Ishant Sharma (18) frustrated the Australian bowlers for more than an hour and rode his luck -- Michael Hussey dropping him at slips off Hauritz -- before Doug Bollinger uprooted his off-stump with sheer pace.

India reduced to 151 for three and Tendulkar at the crease.

The Master Blaster impressed immediately with a few boundaries, but it was Dravid who reached his landmark first with two boundaries off Johnson.

It was Dravid's 59th Test fifty and his 12th against Australia. His unbeaten 62 came off 106 deliveries and was inclusive of 10 boundaries.

After 49 overs, at lunch, the home team had put up 191 for three. Sachin Tendulkar (21 not out) was giving Dravid company.

Earlier, India began the day fully aware that the dismissal of Virender Sehwag at the fag end of the second day had ensured things were evenly poised.

The home side were 110 for two at stumps on Saturday, Sehwag having given them a solid start yet again with a whirlwind 59.

Post-lunch session: (89 runs, 28 overs, 1 wicket)

Consolidation was the mantra for India in the second session. In the process, Tendulkar (64 not out) reached what was his 57th Test fifty, his 12th against the team from Down Under.

However, Rahul Dravid (77) was dismissed. A length delivery from Doug Bollinger induced an edge from the batsman's blade and Tim Paine made no mistake with what was a regulation catch.

The post-lunch session was marked by a slow start. It didn't take long for the duo to bring up the 50-run stand for the fourth wicket though. The partnership eventually yielded 79 runs.

Tendulkar lived dangerously for some time. His flick off Hilfenhaus fell just short of Ricky Ponting at short midwicket while he also survived a leg before appeal from Bollinger.

However, he soon settled down, regaling the crowd with some exquisite hits to the fence.

But a momentary lapse in concentration cost Dravid his wicket. His 134-ball knock was inclusive of 12 hits to the fence and, to an extent, helped him recover from his recent slump.

However, Tendulkar and Raina (26 not out) ensured another useful partnership came India's way for the fifth wicket, their 50-run stand taking just 84 balls.

At tea (after 77 overs), the home team had raced to 280 for four.

Post-tea session: (125 runs, 31.1 overs, 6 wickets)

The home team tried to up the ante in the final session of the day's play. Runs, therefore, came at a brisk pace. Consequently, it also turned out to be the most productive session for the visitors in terms of wickets.

Simply put, it was the most exciting of the day's three sessions.

Both Tendulkar and Raina played free-flowing shots and there was a barrage of boundaries from both the ends.

Raina continued his good start in Test cricket by registering his second half century. He brought up the fifty in style by hitting Bollinger to the fine-leg fence.

His partner stepped it up in an effort to reach a 49th Test ton.

But Tendulkar fell two short of a deserving hundred. His 189-ball knock comprised�13 hits to the fence. His fifth wicket stand with Raina, nonetheless, yielded a valuable 124 runs.

The duo, when batting in tandem, seemed to carry forward their exploits in Sri Lanka during the recent tour.

MS Dhoni (14) was next in the crease as VVS Laxman couldn't bat due to injury (back strain).

However, the Indian captain didn't survive long, edging a Johnson delivery to Shane Watson in the slips.

Johnson struck again with the next ball, having 'self-proclaimed batsman' Harbhajan Singh caught behind before he could open his account.

It was complete volte-face. India had lost three wickets for the addition of just 28 runs, and Australia had suddenly come back into the match.

It would have been worse for India had Watson not put down Zaheer (when on four) at deep midwicket off Hauritz. However, Hauritz had his man, on this occasion trusting himself rather than anyone else, cleaning up Zaheer (6) with a well-flighted delivery.

That brought to the crease VVS Laxman (2): the first occasion in his international career that the Hyderabad batsman was batting at No 10.

Laxman's first scoring shot, a couple, saw India cross the 400-run mark.

However, Johnson returned not only to complete a five-wicket haul but also deny Raina a century, trapping the southpaw leg before.

Raina's 128-ball knock was inclusive of 14 hits to the fence. He was given three reprieves during his stay at the crease.

And when Hauritz induced an edge off Laxman's blade and Michael Clarke accepted it at first slip, it was all over for India.

Despite dominating for most parts of the day, they conceded the first innings lead.

It was an anti-climax, atypical of Indian cricket.