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Australia 538/5, India awaits declaration

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Sydney, Jan 7 (IANS) Australian batsmen picked up the pace from the slow morning session to help their side reach a strong total of 538 for five at tea on the second day of the fourth and final Test against India here Wednesday.

Unlike the addition of a mere 72 runs from 30 overs in the morning session, the home side piled on 118 more in 29 overs after they resumed at 348/2 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

While left-handed batsman Shaun Marsh scored a fluent 73, which included nine fours and one six, he was ably supported by debutant Joe Burns (52 not out).

Marsh got out just before tea when wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha took a good catch. In came Brad Haddin and hammered a big six on the first ball he faced.

Earlier, Australia continued to add to their tally by reaching 420/4 at lunch. However, Indian bowlers showed some rare discipline as they only allowed 72 runs and took two wickets in the morning session.

Unlike the first day when runs came at will, the pitch got slower. It helped off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (one for 98) to tighten the run flow. The result was the last hour of play gave only 24 runs with India picking up two wickets.

Meanwhile, skipper Steven Smith (117), who resumed the day at 82 not out, went on to score his fourth century of the series and eighth overall. The 25-year-old got good support from all-rounder Shane Watson (81) at the other end. Smith scored 15 boundaries in his 208-ball knock.

The duo eventually ended up scoring a 196-run third wicket partnership which finally came to an end when Watson pulled a short Mohammed Shami delivery, only to be caught by Ashwin at deep mid-wicket.

Smith too fell soon when he nicked an Umesh Yadav ball to Saha.

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