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Tempers flare in fightback

Reunited friends Matthew Hayden and Phil Jaques savaged India with a telling counterattack as tempers flared on a pivotal third day of the final Test in Adelaide.

Hayden went past Sir Donald Bradman on Australia’s list of centurions with his 30th ton in 94 Tests soon after lunch on day three. The avid cook has now whipped up six hundreds in 14 Tests against India.

MILESTONE: Matt Hayden hugs Ricky Ponting after scoring his 30th Test ton.Hayden’s innings set Australia on course for the draw it needs to clinch the four-Test series 2-1.

At stumps the home side was 3-322, 204 behind India’s first-innings total of 526 and in sight of the first target, the follow-on mark of 326.

After a slight stumble when Jaques (60), Hayden (103) and Michael Hussey (22) were all bowled and Australia was reduced to an edgy 3-241, skipper Ricky Ponting (79) and Michael Clarke (37) combined for an unbeaten 81-run fourth-wicket partnership.

Top-order linchpin Hayden’s third ton this series was made more special given his resumption from a hamstring strain that sidelined him from the third Test in Perth and robbed Australia of its batting mojo.

Only five Australians have exceeded 8000 Test runs and Hayden could break the magical 10,000 barrier with national chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch this week indicating the 94-Test star was a required player until the 2009 Ashes tour of England.

After play finished on Friday, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh painted the picture of an Indian side delivering the knock-out blow that would end Australia’s prolonged domination of world cricket.

However, the initial hits yesterday were delivered by Australia, which progressed the overnight total from 0-62 to 159 until Indian skipper Anil Kumble (1-45) pierced Jaques’ defences. Australia was 1-184 in the second session with Hayden on 102 and Aussie captain Ricky Ponting on eight.

Hayden and Indian allrounder Irfan Pathan filled another chapter of ill-feeling in a Border-Gavaskar series punctuated by personal clashes and ongoing controversy.

A prolonged exchange between the in-form pair during the 40th over resulted in a discussion between monster opener Hayden and umpire Billy Bowden.

Tension had been generated after Bowden turned down a Pathan lbw appeal against Hayden when he was on 67 and Australia 0-119 on the final ball of the 40th over. The Queenslander appeared to be surprised by Pathan’s early extraction of reverse swing.

In a briefing before the Test, umpires were told to monitor both teams in the field to short-circuit any action of ball tampering.

Umpires Bowden and Asad Rauf were reportedly instructed yesterday by third umpire Steve Davis to stop India throwing on the bounce to keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The bounce-throw tactic could scuff the cherry and enhance chances of reverse swing.

Jaques made the fatal error of failing to cover his off-stump in attempting to sweep Kumble in the second over after lunch.

Kumble had been exploiting rapidly expanding footmarks outside off-stump stump to the left-handers with his bouncy leg-breaks.

Still, Jaques notched his fifth half-century in just eight Tests and had figured in Australia’s highest opening stand with Hayden against India in Adelaide – beating the 99 by Bob Simpson and Bill Lawry in 1967/68. Jaques said Hayden’s return had filled him with confidence and it showed.

Kumble immediately replaced himself with Harbhajan following Jaques’ dismissal in a bid to again neutralise Ponting when the Turbanator’s bunny came to the crease.

It was a ploy which failed as the captain gained increasing confidence on the superb batting strip.

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