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Mon 20 Oct 2008 08:51 AM

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India in control of second test against Aussies

Leg spinner Amit Mishra takes five-wicket haul on debut as Aussies struggle.

Debutant leg-spinner Amit Mishra took a five-wicket haul to put India in the driver's seat on the third day of the second Test against Australia in Mohali on Sunday.

Mishra, who took two wickets on Saturday, dismissed top-scorer Shane Watson (78) before mopping up tailenders Cameron White and Peter Siddle to finish with an impressive 5-71 from 26.4 overs.

Paceman Ishant Sharma and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh chipped in with two wickets each as the visitors were bowled out for a first innings score of 268, two less than the follow-on mark.

India, however, decided to bat again, reaching 100 without loss at close for an overall lead of 301 runs, having made 469 in their first innings.

Openers Virender Sehwag notched up his 15th Test fifty and was batting on 53 with Gautam Gambhir on 46 when stumps were drawn for the day.

The duo negotiated a benign Australian attack with ease, scoring at more than four runs an over on a track which still played true and easy.

The Australians owed their first innings score to a fine rearguard action from Watson and Brett Lee, who put on 73 runs for the eighth wicket to pull their side up from 167-7.

"They bowled really well today," said Watson. "I was a little uncomfortable against the spin of Harbhajan Singh. So I tried to play more from the crease by taking an off-stump guard.

"We can still win this game if we restrict their lead to around 400-450 because the pitch is not unplayable."

Watson's 156-ball career-best knock included 10 fours and a six while Lee contributed a handy 35 with six fours.

The 27-year-old all-rounder pulled Mishra, 25, over the midwicket for a huge six while Lee also danced down the track to loft the bowler twice for fours over the mid-off.

Watson, playing his fifth Test, reached his half-century in style, dispatching the long-maned Sharma (2-68) in front of square for a delectable four.

Lee, who needed two stitches on his right hand on day one of the match, also took a nasty blow on his back from Sharma, bowling with a new ball. But he responded by driving the bowler down to the ground for his fifth four.

His spirited resistance was brought to an end by Harbhajan who induced him into edging one to Rahul Dravid at first slip.

Mishra, only the sixth Indian bowler to have picked five wickets in a debut, then got rid of Watson -- trapped leg before -- and Siddle in the space of six balls to bring the curtain down on the Australian innings.

Mishra's figures were the best returns for an Indian bowler in a debut since Narendra Hirwani's 8-61 against the West Indies in 1988.

"I was not under any kind of pressure despite bowling to the number one side in the world," said Mishra.

"I tried to play my natural game. My aim was to take a wicket off every ball. I also tried to use a lot of variation," said Mishra, making a return to international cricket five years after his one-day debut in 2003.

The visitors lost three key wickets in the morning session in the face of a smart spin-pace combination from the home side.

Key middle-order batsman Michael Hussey (54), Brad Haddin (nine) and Cameron White (five) were all cooling their heels in the pavilion after resuming the day on 102-4.

The 33-year-old Hussey, who top-scored with 146 in the drawn Bangalore opener, reached his 10th Test fifty with a pulled two off Sharma before edging the bowler in the same over to Mahendra Dhoni behind the stumps.

He hit seven fours in his 119-ball knock.

The Mohali Test will be followed by matches in New Delhi and Nagpur.

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