The third Test was fading out towards an inevitable draw at tea on the final day as VVS Laxman held India's middle order together with ease. Australia spent the first two sessions trying desperately to spark a collapse that would allow a run-chase but with India's lead stretched to 229 at the break - and with five wickets in hand - their goal had become unachievable.

There wasn't a great deal for Australia to celebrate in the second session although Cameron White certainly enjoyed picking up the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar for the second time in the series. White typically relies heavily on top-spinners and is not a major turner of the ball but he has now started to send down a few more legbreaks and it was one such delivery that did the job.

Tendulkar was well set and had 47 when he played a rather strange shot to a ball that pitched on line, slightly back of an ideal length and turned away. Tendulkar reached at the ball and simply guided it into the hands of Matthew Hayden at first slip; it was almost as if he had forgotten a slip was in place.

The breakthrough gave Australia a slight sparkle and they continued to attack with several close-in men and there remained a buzz among the fielders. But with India's lead already stretched to nearly 200 and with only five wickets down, the chances of an Australian victory were about as slim as the likelihood of John McCain becoming the next US president.

Tendulkar and Laxman had done what was required. By their exquisite standards the innings played by both men were sedate to say the least. But that was what India needed and it was what Tendulkar and Laxman provided in a 52-run partnership that ate up nearly 21 valuable overs.

Tendulkar played a couple of excellent back-foot drives for four off Brett Lee early in his innings and he gradually eased into an unhurried and unconcerned frame of mind. Laxman was watchful but still more than happy to play his shots, and the Delhi crowd was glad of that.

In what was effectively a short encore of his first-innings double-century, Laxman flicked deliveries through leg and crunched Michael Clarke's spin through the off-side for simple but well executed boundaries. He brought up his half-century with such a stroke - a four driven through cover when Clarke sent down a full toss.

The solidness of India's middle order meant only three wickets in two sessions for Australia and that was never going to be enough to force a result. The day had started reasonably and Lee struck in the eight over when his fast and full inswinger caught the inside edge of Rahul Dravid's bat and crashed onto the stumps.

India were 53 for 3 and Australia sensed an opportunity, but Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar batted for time and put together a useful stand that brought 40 runs and lasted more than an hour. Another sniff came when a Mitchell Johnson inswinger had Gambhir lbw for 36, but the pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla hadn't crumbled to dust over the five days and nor did India's line-up collapse.

It meant a final session that would be largely meaningless. It also meant the Border-Gavaskar Trophy would remain in Australia's hands until at least the final Test in Nagpur.

all courtesy: cricinfo