PERTH, Jan 14 (PTI): A clueless India were heading towards another humiliating series defeat with their struggling top order batsmen surrendering meekly in the third cricket Test against Australia here today.
Trailing by 208 runs in the first innings, India were reeling at 88 for four in their second innings at stumps on the second day on a bouncy WACA pitch.
The visitors now face the possibility of another innings defeat as they trail by 120 runs with six second innings wickets in hand after Australia had made 369 all out in their first innings, riding on David Warner�s blistering 180.
Australia, on the other hand, are on the verge of claiming the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a possible win of the third Test inside three days to go 3-0 up in the four match Test series.
The hosts had beaten India in the first Test in Melbourne by 122 runs and clinched the second Test in Sydney by an innings and 68 runs.
Out of form openers Gautam Gambhir (14) and Virender Sehwag (10) were once again sitting ducks to the new ball while Sachin Tendulkar (8) � out to a debatable LBW decision, and VVS Laxman (0) followed them quickly in the hut.
Rahul Dravid (33) and Virat Kohli (21) then saw through the day and have so far put on 37 runs for the unseparated fifth wicket. Dravid has so far batted for 99 minutes and hit six fours from 63 balls. Kohli has kept vigil for 84 minutes and hit three fours from 39 balls.
For Australia, left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc did the star turn for as he removed Gambhir and Tendulkar in the space of seven deliveries to rock the visitors. India survived the first 10 overs of the day without losing any wicket though Gambhir, akin to first innings, was getting beaten on and off before Australian skipper Michael Clarke pressed Starc into operation.
The tall left-arm paceman�s second delivery was a brute of a ball which climbed on from a length and an evasive Gambhir could only lob it for the point fielder to take a low catch.
Sehwag followed in the next over, a dismissal quite similar to that in the first innings, when he went back to a delivery which lifted a little on the off-stump and took the edge to the wicketkeeper.
Tendulkar played a cut over gully fielder to fence off fast bowler Peter Siddle but from the other end, Starc made one nip back and hit him in front of the stumps. Umpire Aleem Dar was prompt to raise finger in affirmation. Tendulkar was extremely unhappy with the decision and went back to the pavilion shaking his head.
The situation only turned worse when Laxman played at a lifting delivery from Ben Hilfenhaus with hard hands and Shaun Marsh in the slip cordon made no mistake with the chance. Laxman even could not open his account.
The poor batting undid the good work of the bowlers who had bundled out Australia for 369 in the first two sessions, claiming the last nine wickets for 139 runs.
Umesh Yadav was the pick of Indian bowlers with five wickets for 93 runs, this being his first five-wicket haul. But the spell which put the skids under the Australians� feet was delivered by Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma in the afternoon. They bowled 16 overs in tandem after lunch and claimed three wickets. Australian batting then came unstuck and were all out in the extended middle session.
India 1st Innings: 161
Australia 1st Innings (Overnight 149 for no loss): Cowan b Yadav 74, Warner c Yadav b Ishant Sharma 180, Marsh c Laxman b Yadav 11, Ponting b Yadav 7, Clarke c Dhoni b Zaheer Khan 18, Hussey c Sehwag b Vinay Kumar 14, Haddin c Dhoni b Zaheer Khan 0, Siddle b Yadav 30, Harris c Gambhir b Yadav 9, Starc not out 15, Hilfenhaus c Kohli b Sehwag 6. Extras: (LB-3, W-2) 5. Total: (all out in 76.2 overs) 369. Fall of wickets: 1-214, 2-220, 3-242, 4-290, 5-301, 6-303, 7-339, 8-343, 9-357. Bowling: Zaheer Khan 21-3-91-2, Umesh Yadav 17-2-93-5, Vinay Kumar 13-0-73-1, Ishant Sharma 18-0-89-1, Virender Sehwag 7.2-0-20-1.
India 2nd innings: Gambhir c Hussey b Starc 14, Sehwag c Haddin b Siddle 10, Dravid not out 32, Tendulkar lbw b Starc 8, Laxman c Marsh b Hilfenhaus 0, Kohli not out 21. Extras: (B-1, LB-1, W-1) 3. Total: (For 4 wickets in 32 overs) 88. Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-25, 3-42, 4-51. Bowling: Ryan Harris 8-1-23-0, Ben Hilfenhaus 9-2-25-1, Mitchell Starc 6-2-14-2, Peter Siddle 7-2-21-1, Michael Hussey 2-0-3-0.