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Graeme Swann winds up Australia Test man Ed Cowan

Swann strikes first blow in the phoney Ashes war by winding up Cowan

By
Peter Hayter

PUBLISHED:

22:33 GMT, 27 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 27 April 2013

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Graeme Swann appears to have won the first skirmish in the pre-Ashes phoney war by duping Ed Cowan into believing the spinner and fellow Nottinghamshire team-mate Stuart Broad have been ordered by England not to bowl to the Aussie opener in the county's nets.

Cowan, named in the 16-man Ashes squad to face England, has begun a seven Championship-match stint for Notts, played alongside Broad against Derbyshire and will link up with Swann against Durham tomorrow when the off-spinner returns after the elbow surgery that forced him to miss England's Test series in New Zealand.

Having a laugh: Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann

Having a laugh: Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann

But Swann may have some talking to do first as Cowan seems to have fallen victim to his notorious sense of mischief.

The spinner has claimed he and Broad have been instructed by Test coach Andy Flower not to give the Aussie any chance of a sighter in the nets or in the middle, particularly as the first Ashes Test is at Nottinghamshire's Trent Bridge ground.

Discussing criticism of counties giving Aussie players the chance to acclimatise to English conditions and England bowlers using a Duke ball, Cowan said: 'I can certainly see that point, but I can also see the other side.

'The fact is that it's an Ashes year, so, sure, there is some benefit for me, but there is some benefit for Swann and Broad as they get a pretty intimate look at my batting.

'They're not allowed to bowl at me in the nets. It's a bit of a joke. We're getting on famously, but I'd have thought that knocking me over a few times in the nets might plant a few seeds…'

Asked whether he knew the source of this instruction, Cowan insisted it had come from the England management. But Notts coach Mick Newell denied any such order and revealed the whole thing was a Swann wind-up.

Cowan knows how humour can backfire, as he has still not spoken to Kevin Pietersen over the 'Puddinggate' row in the last Ashes tour Down Under.

Wound up: Ed Cowan

Wound up: Ed Cowan

In his critically acclaimed diary, In The Firing Line, Cowan recounted that South African-born Pietersen could not identify the bread-and-butter he ate during lunch in England's match against Australia A in Hobart on the last Ashes tour.

When Cowan told Pietersen he should recognise the dish as it was typically English, Pietersen responded by joking: 'I'm not f***ing English. I just work there.'

The joke turned sour when the comment was used to cast doubt on Pietersen's loyalty.

Despite trying to contact Pietersen to clear the air, Cowan has still not talked to him directly and he now admits he wishes he had not included the story in his book.

'The KP thing was said as a joke and it got blown out of proportion,' said the 30-year-old. 'I was disappointed and I'm sure he wasn't thrilled. I think it was a good line all the same.'

One thing about which Cowan is deadly serious, however, is what he calls the defining moment for him and his team, the upcoming Ashes series, which, after their 4-0 defeat in India, he claims will be the making or breaking of many careers.

Cowan was among those who expressed concerns over aspects of 'team culture' to coach Mickey Arthur before the issue came to a head with three players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, dropped for failing to do their homework. Cowan knows the consequences of failure.

'I wasn't some sort of tell-tale,' he said. 'There were about six people saying: “Right, is this where our culture should be heading”

'You lose a lot of intellectual ability when players like Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, and even someone like Justin Langer, the batting coach, leave in pretty quick succession. It's not just batting and bowling, it's culture.

'Some things are trivial, like lateness to meetings; some aren't so trivial, like general attitudes of not going out of your way to making sure that the team is your absolute priority.

'It showed a lot of courage. It was the day the coach and captain put their heads on the block. They said: “We are going to cop some flak, but we are all in this together.”

'It was saying – if we're going to win the Ashes, we need to be solid around all these core values.

'If we lose these back-to-back Ashes series, you will see a change of personnel and management.

'But the other side is that if you can win an away Ashes series, then it is a defining moment for this team.'

Twickenham crowd must match Welsh noise makers – Chris Foy

Crowd at HQ must roar to silence wails of the Welsh

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 6 December 2012

It must be some kind of record. Almost three years before England v Wales at the next World Cup and the mutual antagonism is already evident.

When the draw was made on Monday for the
2015 tournament, Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis caught
the host nation on the hop by offering to stage the Pool A clash between
the old foes in Cardiff. England’s stunned response was of the ‘thanks,
but no thanks’ variety.

Let’s cut through the sabre-rattling here. The game will not take place in Cardiff. That scenario is unthinkable. It is England’s event and although much is made of the organisers being independent of the RFU, conceding home advantage to their near neighbours is a non-starter.

Turn it up: Twickenham Stadium needs to bring the noise against Wales

Turn it up: Twickenham Stadium needs to bring the noise against Wales

More from Chris Foy…

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29/11/12

Chris Foy: New guru Parker will soon learn rugby is not an exact science
22/11/12

Chris Foy world of rugby: Lam's back, so it could be the chop for Howley
15/11/12

Chris Foy: Six injured and counting, Lancaster needs stability
01/11/12

World of rugby: Ireland facing the music as Strauss gets a call-up
25/10/12

Chris Foy: More referees will follow Lawrence's example and quit if this hounding goes on
18/10/12

Chris Foy: Let's play! Time for TV war to take a back seat as the Heineken Cup returns
11/10/12

Chris Foy: On your bike, Cowan! No rest for the Gloucester new boy
07/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The Millennium Stadium will be used as a World Cup venue on the simple basis that it suits English requirements. It satisfies the need for a geographical spread of matches. The West Country has a passion for rugby but lacks big stadiums, so taking games to Cardiff ticks a strategic box.

While there is no realistic prospect of England v Wales taking place there, Lewis will lobby strongly for the Millennium Stadium to host Wales v Australia. He will press his point on the basis that the home of Welsh rugby is ‘the best rugby stadium in the world’. He’s right. It is.

Located in the heart of Cardiff, on matchdays it is the heart of Cardiff, with a loud pulse all of its own. Twickenham is bigger, but the Millennium’s stands are steeper and closer, creating an intensity of atmosphere which is enhanced when the roof is shut.

So much is about the people. In Cardiff, there is fervent support, in London it is more passive.

Many Twickenham patrons turn up to be entertained, as if at the opera, while their Welsh counterparts embrace an interactive experience. There are contrasting demographics and they create a contrasting backdrop.

England’s players talk dutifully of wonderful support, but in truth they largely have to perform for their crowd, rather than feed off vocal backing.

Even when the hordes responded to the Haka last Saturday by singing Swing Low, there was one full-throttle rendition, then an almost apologetic second take which petered out into murmuring near-silence.

Ultimately, the England v Wales pool game at the World Cup won’t be staged at the Millennium, but perhaps the away players from the ‘host’ nation would be more inspired by the commotion if it was.

Commotion: There is normally a great atmosphere in the Millenium Stadium

Commotion: There is normally a great atmosphere in the Millenium Stadium

How are the Lions looking

Now that the dust has settled on the autumn Tests, it’s another opportune moment to predict how the Lions might line up for their first Test against Australia in June.

Based partly on form and partly on long-standing personal preference, a possible matchday 23 is listed below. One striking factor is the physical power of what would surely be the most imposing threequarter line the Lions have ever mustered, plus a bench role for that great wasted Welsh talent, James Hook.

Chris Foy’s latest Lions matchday Test squad: Halfpenny; Visser, Tuilagi, Roberts, North; Sexton, B Youngs; Healy, Hartley, Cole; Parling, Gray; Wood, Heaslip, Warburton (capt). Replacements: Best, Corbisiero, A Jones, Lawes, Robshaw, Phillips, Hook, Foden.

Wasted talent: Chris Foy would include James Hook on the bench

Wasted talent: Chris Foy would include James Hook on the bench

Captain Chris tackles his critics

Among modern sporting cliches, ‘he does his talking on the pitch’ is particularly well-worn, but it was a fitting summary of Chris Robshaw’s defiant work last weekend.

He had been lambasted for a close call at the end of England’s defeat against South Africa, but the national captain presented a stoic face and responded with stirring deeds in the epic win over New Zealand.

Once again, his leadership was confirmed by the raft of post-match data, which showed he was England’s leading carrier and second in the tackle count, with 19, missing none. What was most illuminating was that Robshaw hit 27 rucks, while blindside flanker Tom Wood led that list with 39.

This indicates that the back-row balance was right. Put these two together and they cover all bases required of a 6-7 combination, with a blurring of the demarcation lines, which works well.

This may present problems for Tom Croft when he is fit to press for a recall, as the rangy Tiger is a different beast entirely and his lesser impact at the breakdown means he may struggle to break up the Wood-Robshaw axis.

Stepping up: Chris Robshaw showed his worth against the All Blacks

Stepping up: Chris Robshaw showed his worth against the All Blacks

The Last Word

One of the most daunting challenges for World Cup organisers will be to sell out large stadiums in the north, but it appears the RFU aren’t rushing to assist. There have been suggestions that, prior to the tournament, a major Test could be relocated to a northern venue such as Old Trafford, but that concept now appears to be on ice. The reason is — shock, horror — money.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: ‘There are financial imperatives. If Xmillion doesn’t come in because we don’t play at Twickenham, how many regional development officers is that worth I don’t think we would be dashing to do it (play in the north).

Also, is a single match really going to transform things’

First of all, it is outrageously simplistic to say moving a Test up north = less revenue = reduction in grass-roots funding. The RFU spend a lot of money on a lot of things, not just development officers. Old Trafford’s capacity is only 6,000 below Twickenham’s and it has ample corporate facilities, so why not take a modest monetary ‘hit’ for the good of the game The answer is tied up in considerations such as the debenture scheme at HQ, which discourages an ‘away-day’ Test.

Ritchie cannot dismiss that concept, then argue — as he did — that taking the Saxons up north is a viable solution. Only the senior team against ‘A’-list rivals will have the desired effect.

Ricky Ponting final innings pictures: Australia lose to South Africa

Farewell, Punter! Ponting honoured during final innings for Oz… but he bows out with a whimper in crushing defeat to South Africa

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UPDATED:

09:24 GMT, 3 December 2012

Ricky Ponting's final innings for Australia ended in disappointment as he managed just eight on the fourth morning of the third Test against South Africa as the tourists clinched the series 1-0 with an impressive 309-run victory.

Having announced his retirement prior to the match Ponting mustered just four in the first innings and fared little better in his last hurrah, thick-edging Robin Peterson to slip three balls before the lunch break at Perth.

South Africa welcomed Ponting to the crease with a respectful guard of honour but there was to be no fitting finale for the second highest run-scorer in Test history.

One of the greats: Ricky Ponting salutes the crowd at the WACA after his final international innings

One of the greats: Ricky Ponting salutes the crowd at the WACA after his final international innings

One of the greats: Ricky Ponting salutes the crowd at the WACA after his final international innings

Stand by your man: Rianna Ponting applauds her husband during his last appearance for Australia

Stand by your man: Rianna Ponting applauds her husband during his last appearance for Australia

Australia, chasing 632 for an unlikely
victory, resumed this morning on 40 without loss but suffered the worst
possible start when dangerous opener David Warner was dismissed by the
second ball of the day for his overnight score of 29.

Vernon Philander was responsible,
sending down a fine delivery that would have threatened off stump had
Warner not nicked it to Graeme Smith at first slip.

Ed Cowan hit the first four of the day
three balls later but the aim of the day was defence and consolidation
as Philander and Dale Steyn sent down a testing opening spell.

No 3 Shane Watson hit his 12th
ball for four, while the circumspect Cowan put away a Steyn full-toss
for his second boundary.

Watson found the ropes in three
consecutive overs but he was next out for 25 when Morne Morkel squared
him up and found the edge to offer Smith a second catch.

That brought Ponting to the crease for
the final time and, as well as a warm ovation from the stands, the
opposition lined up to form a guard of honour to the wicket.

Ponting stopped to shake hands with
Proteas skipper Smith and, after Cowan stole some of the spotlight with a
six off Peterson, got off the mark by pulling his sixth delivery for
four.

Respect: Ponting was given a guard of honour by South Africa's players as he headed onto the field to bat

Respect: Ponting was given a guard of honour by South Africa's players as he headed onto the field to bat

On the pull: Ponting bats in his last Test innings

Ponting bats in his last Test innings

On the pull: Ponting bats in his last Test innings, but his stay at the crease was to be a short one

All over: Ponting's final dismissal came after nicking the ball to Jacques Kallis (left) at slip off Robin Peterson

All over: Ponting's final dismissal came after nicking the ball to Jacques Kallis (left) at slip off Robin Peterson

All over: Ponting's final dismissal came after nicking the ball to Jacques Kallis (left) at slip off Robin Peterson

Prized wicket: Peterson celebrates

Prized wicket: Peterson celebrates

Luck seemed to be on the 37-year-old's
side when he was gifted a second boundary, Morkel mis-fielding at
mid-on, but that proved his last scoring shot.

Left-arm spinner Peterson got one to
bite and bounce outside off stump and Ponting mis-hit an unwise cut
straight to the alert Jacques Kallis.

The Proteas clamoured to shake his
hand as he departed to plentiful applause before his successor as
Australia skipper, Michael Clarke, struck the last two balls of the
session for four.

AB De Villiers was involved in the
next two wickets, stumping Clarke off Peterson for 44 and then catching
Michael Hussey off Steyn for 26.

Matthew Wade was joined by all-rounder
John Hastings with the home side on 198 for six and South Africa were
on the verge of an impressive victory.

Wade went for 10, caught by Smith at short midwicket when he mistimed a Peterson delivery.

Australia ended the session on 204 for seven, with Hastings and Mitchell Johnson battling against the inevitable.

Philander found the edge of Johnson's
bat and De Villiers took a regulation catch as Australia failed to add
to their total in the first three overs after tea.

Well played: South Africa captain Graeme Smith shakes hands with Ponting after his dismissal

Well played: South Africa captain Graeme Smith shakes hands with Ponting after his dismissal

Farewell: Australia legend Ponting walks off the pitch for the last time in international cricket

Farewell: Australia legend Ponting walks off the pitch for the last time in international cricket

Hastings went for a belligerent 20, caught at first slip by Smith off Morkel.

Mitchell Starc also hit out, his 68
off 43 balls including two sixes and nine fours, as he and Nathan Lyon
put on a battling 87 for the final wicket.

But they were only putting off the
inevitable and after South Africa took the new ball Lyon was finally out
for 31 when he was caught at slip by Smith off Steyn.

That left the home side all out for
322 for a 309-run defeat and a 1-0 series loss which confirmed South
Africa as the number one ranked Test side.

Gloucester 25 Bordeaux 13: Charlie Sharples at the double as hosts claim fine win

Gloucester 25 Bordeaux 13: Sharples at the double as hosts claim fine win

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UPDATED:

23:27 GMT, 18 October 2012

Gloucester picked up their second Amlin Challenge Cup victory of the season and with it a bonus point following a comfortable victory over Bordeaux-Begles at Kingsholm.

The home side ran in four first half tries to put the game beyond the visitors with Will James, Bill Twelvetrees and Charlie Sharples (2) all touching down, while two Nicolas Sanchez penalties and a late converted score by Gauthier Gibouin ensured the visitors were not embarrassed.

Over the line: Charlie Sharples scores Gloucester's third try

Over the line: Charlie Sharples scores Gloucester's third try

The hosts, keen to use the momentum from their opening win at Mont de Marsan, dominated from the off and took just six minutes to score the first try with James touching down in the corner after he outmuscled Avesini Vasuinubua.

Twelvetrees missed the conversion as he did for their second score six minutes later when the Irishman took advantage of a brilliant kick through by Jimmy Cowan to outrun the Bordeaux backline and touch down.

Breaking away: James Simpson-Daniel in possession for Gloucester

Breaking away: James Simpson-Daniel in possession for Gloucester

Sanchez converted two penalties to get his side back into the clash but two Sharples tries, the second made by an excellent Ben Morgan run, put Gloucester well in control at the break, 25-6 ahead.

The second-half was a less frantic affair, but it was the visitors who had the final say as a Gibouin crashed over.

Wasps 10 Worcester 6: Simon McIntyre scores only try

Wasps 10 Worcester 6: Woeful hosts hold on but Hill apologises for shocking match

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UPDATED:

18:20 GMT, 7 October 2012

Worcester head coach Richard Hill said sorry for a ‘shocker’ of a game that saw Wasps stagger to their third win of the season thanks to Simon McIntyre’s first-half try and a tremendous stint of late defending.

Hill said: ‘I apologise for inflicting that on you. That was a shocker. Neither team played particularly well and we were marginally worse.’

Worcester, who cut Wasps’ 10-0 half-time lead through a penalty and drop goal from Andy Goode, engineered a chance to win in the final five minutes but Goode’s cross kick bounced out of the reach of wing Jon Clarke.

Flying start: McIntyre crosses for Wasps

Flying start: McIntyre crosses for Wasps

Flying start: McIntyre crosses for Wasps

Wasps then stopped two attacking
line-outs through some stern defence and good tackling, culminating in
man of the match Joe Launchbury forcing substitute flanker Ben Cowan to
knock on.

Launchbury, a member of the England Saxons squad, is tipped to be a full international.

The 21-year-old started this match at
blindside flanker but Dai Young, Wasps’ director of rugby, predicted
his best position will be at lock.

‘People talk about him as a star of
the future, but he’s already here. England see his long-term future as a
second row, but with his mobility and skills he can play in both
positions.’

Young also criticised his team’s performance. ‘I don’t think we would have beaten many teams. We know we have to be better.’

High hopes: Marco Wentzel rises to take gather lineout ball

High hopes: Marco Wentzel rises to take gather lineout ball

Wasps started strongly with a try
after only three minutes. Billy Vunipola and Joe Launchbury made big
inroads into the Worcester defence and good ball retention saw prop
Simon McIntyre drive over for the try which Stephen Jones converted.

Worcester then had their first
opportunity for points but Andy Goode failed to take it as his 35-metre
penalty attempt rebounded back off a post.

Back
came Wasps to put the visitors' defence under sustained pressure in
their own 22 and when the Warriors were offside, Jones made no mistake
with an angled penalty to give his side a 10-point advantage.

After that bright opening, the second quarter of the game was a huge disappointment as both sides made frequent unforced errors which prevented any real flow to the game. There were frequent turnovers as the score deservedly remained at 10-0 to the home side at the interval.

Too Goode: Former England international Andy Goode (right)

Too Goode: Former England international Andy Goode (right)

Early in the second half, a handling
error by Andrea Masi allowed Worcester a position in the Wasps' half and
when the hosts were penalised, a Goode penalty gave Warriors their
first points.

Almost
immediately Jones was presented with a chance to nullify that score but
his 45-metre penalty attempt sailed narrowly wide.

With half an hour remaining, Goode reduced the arrears to only four when he fired over a splendid drop-goal from close on 50 metres.

Stung by the two penalties, Wasps resumed their earlier dominance with Launchbury and McIntyre again to the fore with their driving runs. They should have gone further ahead when a clever chip ahead from Simpson should have resulted in a try for Christian Wade but the wing knocked on with the line at his mercy.

Hands off: Joe Launchbury evades a tackle

Hands off: Joe Launchbury evades a tackle

Jones missed another angled penalty
for the Wasps, allowing the Warriors the possibility of an unlikely win.
Inventive play by Paul Hodgson and David Lemi put the visitors into the
Wasps' 22 but Aleki Lutui knocked on and the home side were able to
relieve the pressure.

With three minutes to go, Simpson made the best break of the game, with a sniping run from a ruck on halfway but the supporting Chris Bell was hauled down narrowly short.

This allowed Warriors one final chance but Jon Clarke failed to collect a Goode cross-kick for the winning try before the Wasps withstood four minutes of huge pressure to hang on for a nail-biting win.

Rain leaves West Indies and Australia heading for a draw

Rain washes away hopes of result as Windies and Australia head for draw

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 18 April 2012

Rain on the fourth day left the second Test between the West Indies and Australia at Port-of-Spain seemingly heading for a draw.

The hosts' innings was wrapped up swiftly this morning at 257, giving Australia a lead of 54.

They reached 73 for three, 127 ahead, before the second heavy downpour of the day brought an early close with only 30.4 overs having been bowled in the day.

Washout: Rain falls over the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Washout: Rain falls over the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad

The hosts resumed this morning at 252 for nine and added just five before wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh was trapped lbw by Michael Beer for 31, a decision only given after a DRS review as Baugh missed a sweep at the fourth ball of the day.

Australia openers Ed Cowan and David Warner extended their side's lead to 80 – although the former was dropped at slip by Windies captain Darren Sammy before he had scored.

Kemar Roach then struck twice in his first over, coming round the wicket to the left-handed Warner, who nicked the paceman's second delivery to slip for 17, Darren Bravo taking the low catch.

Quick single: Australia batsman Ed Cowan (front) takes a run in Port of Spain

Quick single: Australia batsman Ed Cowan (front) takes a run in Port of Spain

And new man Shane Watson lasted only three balls before misjudging and losing his off stump without troubling the scorers.

Ricky Ponting was fortunate to escape a run-out attempt when on nought, Fidel Edwards missing the stumps, and was then dropped by Adrian Barath off spinner Shane Shillingford on four.

A persistent shower forced an early lunch with Cowan on 14 and Ponting eight in a total of 40 for two.

Cowan should have been run out by Baugh shortly after the resumption before a Ponting boundary brought up Australia's half-century.

Timber: Kemar Roach (right) celebrates the wicket of Shane Watson (left)

Timber: Kemar Roach (right) celebrates the wicket of Shane Watson (left)

Roach failed with a hopelessly optimistic review after Ponting was given not out, but a second lbw appeal later in the same over accounted for Cowan, for 20, and with him the first Australian review.

Ponting began to find some fluency and threaded a superb on-drive off Shane Shillingford to the boundary, but he was stopped in his tracks when the rain returned to end the day's play.

Ponting was 32 not out with his successor as captain, Michael Clarke, three not out at the other end and Roach having taken three for 27 and eight wickets in the Test, the best match figures of his career.

Hopes of a result will rest on the tourists making quick runs upon the resumption followed by an aggressive declaration from Clarke, but with rain having disrupted the last three days a draw looks the likeliest outcome.

Australia close to 4-0 series win over India

India facing another series whitewash as Australian attack decimates top order

Australia continued to march towards a 4-0 series whitewash of India on day four of the fourth Test at Adelaide Oval as the tourists closed on 166 for six.

Set a record fourth-innings run chase of 500 to conjure a miracle victory, India are still 333 runs in arrears with just four wickets in hand after established pair VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli fell in the final 10 minutes.

Laxman was dropped by Ricky Ponting at a wide second slip on 25 when he played a loose drive against Ryan Harris, but his watchful vigil ended on 35 after he whipped a short Nathan Lyon offering right off the meat of the bat to Shaun Marsh, who snapped up a very sharp chance at short mid-wicket.

Skittled: Sachin Tendulkar and the rest of his India team-mates are facing up to a second series whitewash

Skittled: Sachin Tendulkar and the rest of his India team-mates are facing up to a second series whitewash

FULL SCORECARD

Click here to see a breakdown of the score

Then from the final ball of the day's penultimate over, first-innings centurion Kohli (22) was brilliantly run out by his day three sparring partner Ben Hilfenhaus, whose off-balance shy at the non-striker's end from mid-wicket was a direct hit with a diving Kohli short of his ground after he scurried desperately for a single to keep the strike.

Lyon (three for 57), who sent India's acting captain Virender Sehwag (62) on his way shortly before tea with a rank full toss, was the man who broke India's hearts when he got rid of Sachin Tendulkar with a nice looping ball which the “Little Master” prodded forward defensively against.

The ball deflected from Tendulkar's glove onto his pad and bobbed up for a sitter to Ed Cowan at short leg, his departure for 13 meaning the wait for Tendulkar's 100th international century goes on.

Tendulkar was surprisingly passive and tentative against Lyon throughout his short innings and paid the ultimate price before trudging off to a standing ovation from the appreciative Adelaide crowd.

Howzat: Peter Siddle impressed with the ball

Howzat: Peter Siddle impressed with the ball

It also left Tendulkar without a ton for the series, the first time in five Test tours of Australia over two decades that he has failed to score a century.

Nightwatchman Ishant Sharma came out in the third-last over of the evening and was immediately greeted by an ultra-attacking field, with every fielder in catching positions around the bat as Lyon bowled with his tail up.

Kohli's endeavours to protect Sharma brought about the downfall of the exciting India number six.

With victory long out of the question, India's faint hopes to even escape with a draw rested with Laxman and Kohli, but a crazy final 10 minutes put an end to such dreams.

Indian legends Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, with almost 29,000 runs and 87 tons between them from a combined 352 Tests, were initially armed with that responsibility but their watchful union ended when out-of-touch Dravid (25) thick-edged a widish Ryan Harris ball to Mike Hussey at gully.

Tendulkar fell three overs later as Lyon bowled his best spell of the series, trundling in for 13 overs unchanged from the River End.

Piling them on: Michael Clarke did his bit with the bat earlier in the day

Piling them on: Michael Clarke did his bit with the bat earlier in the day

Before lunch, India lost openers Gautam Gambhir (three) and Sehwag (62) to be 92 for two at tea.

Sehwag's blazing knock included a mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, but it was never boring.

His 50 arrived off just 36 balls and included 11 boundaries – or 88% of his total score – and he had scored more than 80% of India's runs by that point.

But he threw his wicket away recklessly on 62 when he danced down the pitch to Lyon, who induced a leading edge as Sehwag tried to smash the ball into the car park.

Closing in: Australia are on the brink of securing a 4-0 series win

Closing in: Australia are on the brink of securing a 4-0 series win

The shot ended Sehwag's exciting 53-ball knock, which included 12 fours – all scored on the off-side – as Ponting comfortably claimed the skied ball at short cover.

Sehwag had been looming as the danger-man to Michael Clarke's side after the Aussie skipper declared the home side's innings at 167 for five with Ponting again top-scoring, unbeaten on 60.

Clarke made 37, concluding a golden series with the bat in which he amassed 626 runs at 125.20 with a strike rate of 69.86, while Ponting's series yielded 544 runs at 108.80.

David Warner batting puts Australia on brink of India Test series win in Perth

Warner's breathless batting has Aussies on brink of series win over India in Perth

Australia were in touching distance of a series-clinching win over India after just two days of the third Test in Perth.

Opener David Warner's breathless 180 paved the way for a 208-run first-innings lead that appeared decisive after India limped to 88 for four in their second innings.

It was a familiar top-order failing for India on this tour as they immediately undid any ground made up after their pacemen, led by Umesh Yadav's maiden five-wicket haul, restricted Australia to 369.

Hitting out: Australia opener David Warner was in breathless form with the bat before being dismissed for 180

Hitting out: Australia opener David Warner was in breathless form with the bat before being dismissed for 180

The hosts had looked on course for far more after Warner, who blazed the fourth-quickest Test century last night, and Ed Cowan built on their quick-fire start this morning in a 214-run stand for the opening wicket.

PERTH SCOREBOARD

Click here to read the full scorecard

Australia faded thereafter, however, as India took 10 for 155 after Yadav eventually ended the opening stand by bowling Cowan for 74 – the highest score of his young Test career.

Any glimmer of hope India had was quickly extinguished though as their cast of veterans in the top order again folded to tumble towards a defeat as fast-paced as the WACA wicket they have looked all at sea on.

At one stage defeat inside two days looked a possibility, as they slumped to 51 for four.

Openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag were both undone by the pace and bounce, caught behind the wicket off Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle, in consecutive overs.

Consolation: Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma (L) celebrates the wicket Warner

Consolation: Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma (L) celebrates the wicket Warner

Starc then grabbed the biggest scalp of his three-Test career when he trapped Sachin Tendulkar lbw before the out-of-sorts VVS Laxman offered yet another edge, this time off Ben Hilfenhaus, to Shaun Marsh without scoring.

Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli held out against the enthused Australian attack for the final hour of the day, although with their side still trailing by 120 runs they faced an uphill task to avoid defeat early on the third day.

Warner fell short of a memorable double century after reaching 180 from just 159 balls in a stunning innings that included 20 fours and five sixes.

The left-hander was unable to reproduce his onslaught from the opening day, when he reached triple figures in 69 balls, with a blow to his elbow restricting his normal flow.

He did offer glimpses of his hard hitting, smashing Ishant Sharma back over his head for six, and while he was dropped by Kohli at first slip on 126 he batted through the opening hour with Cowan to seemingly set Australia for a full day's batting.

Trapped: Sachin Tendulkar leaves the crease after being given out for eight runs

In with a shout: Mitchell Starc celebrates after taking the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar

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Those plans were put on hold when Yadav, in his fifth Test, made a triple strike during an impressive spell in the second hour of the day.

Yadav finally ended the opening stand when he squeezed a delivery through Cowan, before quickly sending Marsh and Ricky Ponting on their way.

Top Spin

The 24-year-old found impressive movement off the pitch highlighted by a searing off-cutter that uprooted Ponting's middle stump.

Warner remained through the session and looked intent on reaching a double century after lunch until he attempted a lusty blow over mid-on and, for the first time in his innings, failed to get enough bat on it and was caught in the deep off Sharma.

It prompted a run of wickets as India earned reward for their persistence in a afternoon session in which that battled back with seven dismissals.

On top: Peter Siddle (2nd R) Virender Sehwag's departure from the crease

On top: Peter Siddle (2nd R) Virender Sehwag's departure from the crease

Zaheer Khan deservedly found the edges of Australia skipper Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin who, after claiming India were mentally weak in the lead-up to the Test, departed to scenes of Zaheer blowing him kisses after he failed to score.

Debutant Vinay Kumar then picked up his first Test scalp when Michael Hussey cut straight to gully, before Yadav completed his five-wicket haul by bowling Siddle and having Ryan Harris caught lobbing up an attempted pull shot.

Australia v India: Tourists in command on day three

India on top despite Hilfenhaus heroics as Aussie openers fail on day three

Australia held an overall lead of 230 runs at stumps on day three of the first Test against India at the MCG, after reaching 179 for eight in their second innings.

Michael Hussey (79 not out) and Ricky Ponting (60) combined for a 115-run stand that halted a damaging top-order collapse – but the latter”s dismissal means India are in command of a see-saw contest.

Hussey, dropped in the slips by Rahul Dravid in the shadows of stumps, will join number 10 James Pattinson (three not out) when play resumes.

Steadying the ship: Hussey and Ponting

Steadying the ship: Hussey and Ponting”s stand halted the top-order collapse

Australia v India

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The hosts” top four each failed to reach double figures, undoing the superb work of Ben Hilfenhaus – who earlier today claimed his first Test five-wicket haul to earn Australia a 51-run first-innings lead.

Under-fire veterans Hussey and Ponting came to the crease after young Indian quick Umesh Yadav (four wickets for 49 runs) rifled through the top order to leave Australia teetering on 27 for four.

Ponting hit his second half-century of the match by driving off the back foot to deep point and then running all four runs to raucous applause of the 40,000-strong crowd. Hussey, out for a golden in the first innings, reached his 50 the next over as Australia regained the momentum.

But 36-year-old Ponting fell well short of a drought-breaking hundred when he presented a catch to gully off veteran seamer Zaheer Khan (two for 32).

And when out-of-form Brad Haddin was out for six, caught at second slip also to Zaheer, and tail-enders Peter Siddle (four) and Nathan Lyon (nought) followed, the tourists had wrested back control with two days to play.

Fifteen wickets fell on a day dominated by the bowlers despite there being no obvious signs of uneven bounce or menace in the wicket.

Aussie

Aussie”s ruled: Yadav traps Cowan LBW and Marsh”s stumps are rattled (below)

Aussie

The visitors lost seven wickets for 68 runs during the morning session to be all out for 282 after Hilfenhaus claimed five for 75 in a devastating spell.

He removed Dravid (68), Virat Kohli (11), MS Dhoni (six) and Ishant Sharma (11) to dent India”s challenge after they resumed at 214 for three, in reply to Australia”s first-innings 333.

Fans had barely settled in their seats before Dravid was clean bowled second ball of the day. The Tasmanian seamer produced a perfect delivery which came in and then moved away slightly to beat the outside edge of Dravid”s bat and hit the top of off-stump.

Siddle (three for 63) then had VVS Laxman caught behind by Haddin for two – and Australia took control when Hilfenhaus struck twice within three overs midway through the morning session.

Kohli presented a simple catch to Haddin after edging an outswinger and skipper Dhoni lasted three deliveries against the new ball before picking out Hussey at gully.

Nightwatchman Sharma provided the most resistance but eventually presented Haddin with his fifth catch of the innings.

However Australia blew a chance to take control of the match when they suffered a dramatic top-order collapse.

David Warner (five) was the first to go chopping a ball from Yadav onto the stumps while his partner Ed Cowan (eight) was out three balls later, foolishly leaving a ball that straightened and struck him on the pads.

Five alive! It was a memorable day for Aussie seamer Hilfenhaus

Five alive! It was a memorable day for Aussie seamer Hilfenhaus (and below)

Five alive! It was a memorable day for Aussie seamer Hilfenhaus

Shaun Marsh was bowled for three, playing on to his stumps when attempting to drive a pitched-up Yadav ball.

Then captain Michael Clarke (one) made it a pair of failures in the series opener when Sharma tore through his defence with a 149.9 km/h thunderbolt.

India”s enforced absence of the decision review system has again worked to their advantage in this contest.

Ravichandran Ashwin was struck in front in the first session only to be given not out despite replays showing the ball hitting middle and leg stumps.

And replays showed Cowan”s dismissals – caught behind in the first innings and lbw in the second – were both incorrect.