Cricket: Daunting Target Confronts India ; Australia 405 India 238 & 40-1

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AUSTRALIA COULD sense victory in the second Test yesterday as India's openers were once again overwhelmed by a large Australian total.

The tourists, chasing 376 for a series-levelling win, were 40 for 1 at close. India failed to get a start for the fourth time in the series when Venkat Laxman hooked Damien Fleming to Glenn McGrath at fine leg after making only five.

India's best opening stand in the series has been 11, putting pressure on the middle-order of Rahul Dravid, captain Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly. The other opener, Sadagopan Ramesh, was unbeaten on 26 at stumps, having survived a dropped catch off Shane Warne, and a painful blow on the helmet by a vicious bouncer from Brett Lee.

Dravid, whose best in the series is 35, defended stoutly at the other end to return with a determined 10 off 49 balls.

Earlier, Australia reached 208 for 5 in their second innings before the captain, Steve Waugh, declared an hour after tea. Adam Gilchrist followed his 78 in the first innings with an aggressive 55, while Mark Waugh made 51 not out.

The Australians gained a first innings lead of 167 after India, resuming at their overnight score of 235 for 9, were bowled out for 238 within five minutes of the start.

Australia lost Michael Slater early for three, and when play resumed after a shower Greg Blewett and Justin Langer were tied down by the Indian bowlers. Agarkar claimed Slater and Langer and Anil Kumble dismissed Blewett for 31 and Gilchrist later in the afternoon. …