Cricket: India squeeze life from Aust

Australian cricketer Simon Katich bats during the third day of the fourth and final cricket test...
Australian cricketer Simon Katich bats during the third day of the fourth and final cricket test match between India and Australia in Nagpur, India.(AP Photo/Gautam Singh)
A day of negative cricket that was at times frightful to watch did serious damage to Australia's chances of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the final Test against India at Nagpur.

The Australians fell victim to a dose of their own constraining tactics as India rounded them up for 355, meaning a meagre 166 runs were scored by the tourists for the loss of eight wickets in 85.4 overs today.

After counter-attacking ably on day two, the Australians were bored into error by persistent bowlers and defensive fields - often 8-1 on the offside before lunch - and fell well short of India's 441 after seeming well-placed at 2-189 when play began.

The hard work of Simon Katich (102) and Mike Hussey (90) was all but squandered in the afternoon, as the rest succumbed to the squeeze.

Brett Lee was demoted in the batting order due to illness, suggesting he perhaps should have missed this match after suffering from a stomach bug in the lead-up.

Harbhajan Singh (3-94), Ishant Sharma (2-58) Amit Mishra (2-58) and Zaheer Khan (1-68) each played their part, while debutant opener Murali Vijay demonstrated his worth by notching a second run out.

Just 91 runs trickled in two full sessions up to tea, dull stuff that vindicated new captain Mahendra Dhoni's decision to strangle the innings in more or less the same manner the Australians have tried unsuccessfully to accomplish in virtually all their fielding stints on tour.

Right from the start, Katich and Hussey were unable to relocate the fluent rhythm they had shared in putting on a brisk 115 together the previous evening.

Katich scratched around so much it was at times difficult to believe he was the same batsmen who had glided to 92 in 120 balls yesterday.

He was fortunate to survive the day's second over when the veteran Rahul Dravid turfed a straightforward catch at first slip after Katich reached out to drive a wide ball from Sharma.

Lucky but still alive, Katich went grimly on to his fifth Test century and third this year.

If anything, Katich was guilty of not attempting to regather the initiative and was content to soak up 69 balls for just 10 runs today.

Eventually it was Zaheer who broke through, arrowing a reverse swinging yorker into Katich's pads for a swift lbw verdict from umpire Aleem Dar.

After lunch Sharma produced the best ball of the match not delivered by Jason Krejza to confound Clarke, nicking a delivery that moved away late on a perfect line and not waiting for the umpire to raise his finger.

Hussey's 228-ball vigil ended in cruel circumstances when he pushed Harbhajan on the back foot, was wrong-footed by silly point Vijay's alert reflexes and was out of his ground when the return allowed Dhoni to cuff the ball onto the stumps.

Shane Watson was next, offering a dead defensive bat at Harbhajan only for the overspin to take the ball backwards and remove the off bail.

Brad Haddin (28) again made a start - only once has he failed to reach double figures this series - but again did not go on, padding up to Amit Mishra (2-58) and allowing the ball to spin past his pad and touch a lazily dangling bat on the way to slip.

Krejza (5) was beaten for pace and movement by Sharma with the second new ball, before Cameron White (46) and Mitchell Johnson (5) both skied outfield catches.

AAP sm

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