MOHALI, India (Reuters) - Ben Hilfenhaus took three wickets in the final session on the fourth day to leave India reeling at 55 for four in pursuit of 216 to win the first test against Australia on Monday.
Hilfenhaus dismissed Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina in taking three for 22 in seven overs to turn the match on its head after Indian pacers Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan skittled the tourists for 192 in their second innings.
“We knew we had to come hard at them...it’s nice to get a couple of wickets but more importantly, they are four down,” Hilfenhaus told Neo Cricket channel.
Australia, who had a slender 23-run first innings lead, resumed on a positive note but Sharma removed three top order batsmen in the morning and Khan, who took five wickets in the first innings, mowed down the lower order to put India in command.
Shane Watson top-scored for Australia with a 59-ball 56 but only three of his compatriots managed double digit scores.
Sharma and Khan got three wickets apiece, while spinner Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha shared the rest.
Watson dominated an 87-run opening partnership with Simon Katich (37) before Sharma, who missed much of the first innings action with a troubled knee, struck.
In his eventful third over, Sharma removed Watson with his first delivery, had Ricky Ponting (4) caught at square leg off his fifth ball and Michael Clarke dismissed with the next, though umpire Billy Bowden ruled the latter a no-ball after consulting the third umpire.
The lanky paceman returned to send down a sharp bouncer in his next over which an evasive Clarke (4) could only glove to fall caught behind.
India’s Vangipurappu Laxman may be forced to bat lower down the order again after he came in at number 10 in the first innings because of a bad back.
Hilfenhaus said the Australian bowlers will not relent on Tuesday.
“We have our own individual plans for the batters and we always stick to them... we have to come hard and be patient at the same time.”