Day 3: Aussies eye victory
The host lost nine wickets for 47 runs to be all out for 199 but still finished the day in full control.Updated: Oct 17, 2005 11:37 IST
Australia were in a commanding position to win the ICC super Test against the World XI on Sunday despite suffering one of the worst batting collapses in their proud cricketing history.
Ricky Ponting's men lost their last nine wickets for just 47 runs to be all out for 199 but still finished the third day in complete control as the star-studded tourists slumped to 25-2, chasing 355 for victory.
"It's looking pretty much in Australia's favour at the moment. I think we are on top," said Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath.
"The Test match will be over, one way or the other, sometime tomorrow and if they get the runs it'll be fair enough."
McGrath celebrated his elevation as the most successful paceman in Test cricket by bowling World XI skipper Graeme Smith for a duck then leg-spinner Stuart MacGill had dangerous Indian opener Virender Sehwag caught behind for one.
|Match report Day 1: Hayden, Gilchrist power Aus|
|Match report Day 2: Australia in firm control|
India's new skipper Rahul Dravid was unbeaten on 17 with West Indian world record holder Brian Lara yet to score when play was called off early because of bad light on a gloomy day at the Sydney Cricket Ground that both teams might prefer to forget.
Australia's batting collapse was their worst in a Test on home soil since they lost 9-40 to be all out for just 42 against England in Sydney in 1888 and their worst anywhere in the world since they lost 9-36 in their dismal 84 at Old Trafford in 1956.
It was all the more extraordinary given that it came after Matthew Hayden and Ponting had effortlessly posted half-centuries in a 122-run partnership for the second wicket.
The pair hardly played a false stroke between them as they took the overnight score from 66-1 to 152-1 when the wheels suddenly fell off just before lunch.
England's Ashes heroes Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison once again did most of the damage, capturing three wickets each, while Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan polished off the tail to also finish with three scalps.
Harmison triggered the collapse when he bowled Hayden for 77 and Michael Clarke for five, sending the ball crashing into both men's leg stumps after beating them with his sheer pace.
Flintoff grabbed the prize wicket of Ponting after lunch, caught behind for 54, then added Shane Warne and Shane Watson to his list of victims.
"We realised we underperformed with the bat and the bowlers came to the party today," Flintoff said.
"At one stage it looked like they were going to score a few more but now...we're in a position where it's possible to chase 350.
"It's not easy by any means and it'll take a special performance by someone but we've got the players to do it."
Muralitharan, turning the ball at alarming angles on a pitch ideally suited for spin bowlers, picked up two wickets before tea in as many overs and was unlucky not to have got more.
He took a sharp return catch to dismiss Simon Katich for two then Adam Gilchrist caught by Jacques Kallis at slip but had four separate appeals turned down by the video umpire Darrell Hair.
Muralitharan and Harmison split the last two wickets after play was delayed for 75 minutes because of the fading light before the Australians responded in the shortened final session with two quick wickets of their own to regain the momentum heading into the fourth and possibly final day.
"It's going to be tough work for any batsman out there," McGrath said. "If you look at the wicket out there, it is hard with the new ball and then the spinners come into their own."
No visiting team has ever scored 355 in the fourth innings to win a test match anywhere in Australia but Flintoff said it was not impossible given the talent in the world team.
"It's a big score and I don't know what the history is," he said.
"We just have to believe and go out there and play the way we can play."
First Published: Oct 16, 2005 07:01 IST