ADELAIDE, Jan 25 (PTI): India faced a gigantic battle to save the match following two early dismissals after Australia rode on double centuries by skipper Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting to declare at a mammoth 604 for seven in the fourth and final cricket Test here today.
India were at a shaky 61 for 2 in reply from the 21 overs possible after Australia declared their first innings about half an hour after tea on the second day.
Gautam Gambhir (30) and Sachin Tendulkar (12) will carry the fight tomorrow while their team is still 543 runs in arrears.
Clarke, resuming on 140, made 210 and was out immediately after lunch when a Umesh Yadav delivery flicked his pads and crashed on to his stumps. Ponting departed much later for 221 when he pulled Zaheer Khan firmly but straight to Sachin Tendulkar at backward square leg fence.
The two put on 386 runs for the fourth wicket which is the second best ever by an Australian pair. Sir Don Bradman and Bill Ponsford put on 388 runs together against England at Headingley in 1934.
Replying to Australia�s monumental effort, Virender Sehwag (18) and Rahul Dravid (1) were the two early blows India suffered in their innings and neither the pitch nor the deliveries merited their dismissals.
The first ball of Peter Siddle was a low full toss on Sehwag�s leg stump. Sehwag aimed to play it on the onside but closed the face of his bat too early.
He thus miscued on the right of the bowler who somehow stuck his right hand out and caught it splendidly while still in his follow through.
Sehwag already had a slice of luck in his favour when he was dropped by Ed Cowan on five at the total 13 for no loss.
The opener had aimed to flick Hilfenhaus off his pads and the ball had gone in the air, low to Cowan�s left at midwicket but the fielder floored the chance.
Sehwag, in the short time that he was in, struck two off-side fours off Hilfenhaus and had just put on the highest opening stand with Gambhir of 26 runs when he fell in an astonishing manner.
Dravid, for the sixth time in the series, was bowled but this time it was a cruel turn for the star batsman. He played back to a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery which kicked from a length, hit him on the elbow and crashed on to his stumps.
Gambhir, who began with a steer through point off the first ball of the innings, was generally assured and hit two lovely cover drives off the front foot off Siddle.
Tendulkar was his usual serene self, flicking Hilfenhaus to the midwicket fence even though there were two short midwickets positioned specifically for it.
Australia 1st innings: Ed Cowan c Laxman b Ashwin 30, David Warner lbw b Zaheer 8, Shaun Marsh b Ashwin 3, Ricky Ponting c Tendulkar b Zaheer 221, Michael Clarke b Yadav 210, Mike Hussey run out 25, Brad Haddin not out 42, Peter Siddle c Saha b Ashwin 2, Ryan Harris not out 35. Extras: (B-3, LB-17, W-8) 28. Total: (For 7 wkts in 157 overs) 604 decl. Fall of wickets: 1/26 2/31 3/84 4/470 5/520 6/530 7/533. Bowling: Zaheer Khan 31-4-96-2, Umesh Yadav 26-1-136-1, Ravichandran Ashwin 53-6-194-3, Ishant Sharma 30-6-100-0, Virender Sehwag 16-0-55-0, Virat Kohli 1-0-3-0.
India 1st Innings: Gautam Gambhir batting 30, Virender Sehwag c and b Siddle 18, Rahul Dravid b Hilfenhaus 1, Sachin Tendulkar batting 12. Extras: 0. Total: (For 2 wkts in 21 overs) 61. Fall of wickets: 1/26 2/31. Bowling: Ryan Harris 6-2-18-0, Ben Hilfenhaus 6-1-21-1, Peter Siddle 3-0-13-1, Nathan Lyon 5-2-9-0, Michael Clarke 1-1-0-0.