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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Too hot to handle: Gambhir and Laxman hit doubles

Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman hit double centuries in Delhi yesterday as India all but batted Australia out of the third Test of the four-match series. The opener hit 206 - the maiden double century of his career - and Laxman made an unbeaten 200, at which point Anil Kumble declared with India on 613 for seven. Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich closed the day on 50 without loss having seen off the final 15 overs.

Australia began the day banking on the second new ball to break the partnership between Gambhir and Laxman, worth 139 overnight. Those hopes turned to dust as Gambhir hit 26 fours and a six before being bowled off the inside edge by Shane Watson, 4½ sessions after he first came out to bat. The fourth-wicket partnership had yielded 278 runs in 72.1 overs, the best ever at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

It had taken 35 overs for Watson to be introduced and Ricky Ponting, who had bowled two overs himself by then, saw the all-rounder remove Gambhir with his sixth ball. Katich came on at the same time and broke through in his second over, Sourav Ganguly hitting to the captain at short cover, and when Watson had Mahendra Singh Dhoni caught behind for 27 Australia had taken three for 46, their best period of the game.

"The [Australians'] total approach has been defensive right from the start of the series," Laxman said later. "You see the captain saying that they are the underdogs for the series; that puts them in a defensive mode. Our captain, Anil [Kumble], despite the criticism he's been facing, he's very, very positive in the way he's talking about his team. And Ricky is talking about the Indian team rather than his own.

"They've got the resources," he added. "Except for [the retired] Adam Gilchrist, the team doesn't look different from what we played in Australia when they beat us 2-1. I think it's just that mental approach. I'm not sure why they've been defensive in the way they've approached the series."

Watson, meanwhile, has been fined 10% of his match fee for a confrontation with Gambhir. The pair clashed while the Indian was taking a second run off him during the first day's play. Gambhir has admitted a more serious offence and his case will be heard today.

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