If it was not for a typically workmanlike century from Michael Hussey and some energetic batting from last man Stuart Clark, Australia might have been left in the embarrassing position of having to follow-on in their only practice match ahead of the four-Test series. Beginning the third day on 191 for 4, the visitors collapsed to 218 for 9, losing five wickets in the space of only 27 runs, leaving them 88 adrift of the follow-on mark.
Again it was the spinners who created problems, and in the end slow bowlers picked up nine of the ten Australian wickets to fall. Pragyan Ojha began the collapse when he spotted Brad Haddin (34) coming down the pitch and pulled his length back enough to beat the stroke with the turn to have Parthiv Patel complete an easy stumping. Ojha then made Jason Krejza's misery complete, having him caught at slip for a duck in addition to first-innings figures of 0/123.
Piyush Chawla then took over, trapping Brett Lee in front before he could score and following it up with a googly that kissed the outside edge of Mitchell Johnson's bat and headed straight to Aakash Chopra at second slip. Desperately looking for a five-wicket bag, Chawla came upon a slice of luck when he won an lbw shout against Peter Siddle when the ball struck the pad outside the line of off stump with the batsman playing a stroke. But purely for the manner in which he bowled and the doubts he created in the minds of batsmen Chawla should not be grudged the fortune that sealed his 9th first-class five-for.
Just when it seemed like the BP XI would finish the job Hussey shut the door on them in emphatic fashion. Farming the strike, controlling the flow of runs and keeping his No. 11 as far from harm’s way as possible, Hussey played the best knock of the innings just when his team needed it. On Friday Hussey had played some immaculate cover-drives off Chawla, but with the field scattered and the aim different, he picked up runs almost unnoticed, cutting out expansive shots.
Different bowlers came at him, the second new ball was taken, but nothing made a difference. The Australian innings only came to an end when Clark (44) chanced his arm one time too many and failed to clear midwicket off Yuvraj. Hussey had spent more than six-and-half hours at the crease for his unbeaten 126 as the Australians finished up on 314.
Chopra's chances of making a statement were cut short by a Clark delivery that shot through so low that no batsman would have been able to get pad out of the way in time.
S Badrinath, vying for the No. 6 slot in the first Test, began with some pleasing shots but did himself no favours by trying to uppercut a wide one from Lee, only feathering an edge to the keeper. Badri made 14, one less than the man he is trying to supplant. Sourav Ganguly had managed 15 against New Zealand A in Chennai before being run out.