Gautam Gambhir hits Ricky Ponting of Australia as he fields in close during day three at the SCG. (Getty Images)
Sydney: India were 114 for 2 in their second innings, still 354 runs in the deficit after Australia declared at a mammoth 659 for 4, at the end of the third day. It was another day of domination for the home team, led by Michael Clarke's brilliant triple-century and his 334-run partnership with Michael Hussey who scored his 16th Test ton.
Clarke and Hussey owned the day, and didn't put a foot wrong throughout their unbeaten partnership that deflated India further. The pair started off cautiously but soon flexed their muscles to give Australia a huge lead of 468. India, in their second innings, lost the wickets of opener Virender Sehwag (4) and Rahul Dravid (29) before Gautam Gambhir (68) and Sachin Tendulkar (8) dropped anchor and ensured that the visitors didn't suffer any further blows before the end of play.
Earlier, the Indian bowlers were more disciplined in their efforts when play began with Australia at 482 for 4. Clarke and Hussey respected the conditions, which were overcast in the beginning, before putting their foot down. Ishant Sharma, in particular, was on the mark from ball one, bowling consistently in the good length area and beating the bat regularly.
Hussey brought up century while Clarke closed in on his maiden triple as Australia stretched their lead to 392 by lunch. Hussey, who joined Clarke after the fall of Ricky Ponting's wicket mid-way on day two, strung another mammoth partnership for Australia with his skipper, who remained unbeaten on 293 at the break.
Clarke duly reached the landmark by flicking Ishant off his pads for a boundary. India looked out of sorts in the session after lunch as they were hammered mercilessly by the two experienced pros.
With his personal score on 329, Clarke took a brave decision of declaring the Australian innings when the stage was perfectly set for him to go past the 334-run record shared by Don Bradman and Mark Taylor. He decided that the 468-run lead would be more than enough to test the tired legs of the Indian batsmen. The declaration came as soon as Hussey got to his 150.
The move paid off when Sehwag flashed at a wide swinging delivery from Ben Hilfenhaus, giving David Warner a tough chance which he converted into a brilliant diving catch. Gambhir played a few classical cover drives as India reached tea at 53 for 1, with Dravid accompanying him.
The visitors started the innings after tea on a positive note, putting every loose ball away for boundaries. In the meantime, Gambhir completed his much-needed half-century, while Dravid played in his usual assured sense. But the latter's wicket put the brakes on the scoring of the visitors as they played eight consecutive maidens in an attempt to survive till stumps.
Dravid was bowled for the third time in four innings when Hilfenhaus got through his defences, while Gambhir survived a scare at the fag end of the day when Brad Haddin grassed a regulation caught-behind chance off James Pattinson.