Chennai, Feb 25: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin snatched his second fifer before Australian debutant Moises Henriques struck his second half-century of the match on a difficult pitch Monday to take the first cricket Test into the fifth day.
At stumps, Henriques was batting on 75 following his first-innings 68, and his 57-run unfinished last-wicket stand to take Australia to 232 for nine in the second innings, giving the visitors a slender lead of 40 runs going into the last day.
Earlier on resumption, India ended their first innings at 572, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni stretching his score to 224. Australia made 380 in their first outing.
Henrique and Lyon frustrated the Indian bowlers with their stubborn yet attacking stand after the Indian spinners reduced Australia to 175 for nine. Offspinner Ashwin finished the day with five for 90, while left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh, playing his 100th Test, got two wickets each.
Henriques and Lyon came together with Australia still needing 17 runs to force India to bat again. They not only averted an innings defeat but also gave a demoralised dressing room a hope to fight back in the remaining three Tests.
Henriques struck six fours and two sixes during his 124-ball knock, getting to his fifty with a straight six off Harbhajan.
Australian openers Ed Cowan (32) and Shane Watson (17) looked comfortable to start with as the effect of heavy roller softened the pitch somewhat. Watson was promoted up the order after regular opener David Warner was down with an upset tummy.
At the stroke of lunch, Ashwin got one to jump and spin to dismissed hapless Watson, caught by Virender Sehwag at first slip, leaving Australia at 34 for one.
After the lunch session, Cowan (32) and Warner (23) defied for a while, but Ashwin struck again to get rid of Cowan, trapping him lbw. It triggered a middle-order collapse as Australia from 64 for one slumped to 121 for five.
Phil Hughes followed Cowan, unable to cope with vicious delivery of Jadeja and could only glove it to Sehwag.
Harbhajan got Warner leg-before in a classical off-spinner’s style and then bowled wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (8) as the batsman tried to sweep.
Shortly after tea, skipper Michael Clarke began belligerently, but it was too good to last. The first-innings centurion was foxed by Ashwin and was legbefore by one that came in sharply and kept low.
Henriques then waged the grim battle with the tailenders, but again double strikes by Ashwin left them staring an innings defeat. Henriques and Lyon saved the day for Australia.
India, resuming at 515 for eight, added 57 runs in the first hour before their innings was terminated. Dhoni added 18 runs to his overnight 206 before becoming James Pattinson’s (5-95) fifth victim, caught behind hooking.
Dhoni’s stupendous 224 is now third highest score by a wicket-keeper. Overnight batsman Bhuvneshwar Kumar also made a fighting 38.