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Australia declares on 318-9, sets India 384-run target

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Melbourne, Dec 30 (AP) - Shaun Marsh was run out for 99 before Australia declared its second innings on 318-9 on Tuesday, leaving India an improbable victory target of 384 runs in the final two sessions of the third test. Marsh, chasing his first test century on home soil, hoisted consecutive sixes and a four off Ravichandran Ashwin after the bowler dropped a painful caught-and-bowled chance with Marsh on 86. His innings ended just before lunch when he was run out attempting a rash single to complete his ton. Australia had been expected to bat aggressively to add extra runs before declaring, but Marsh and Ryan Harris took their time in a 69-run partnership, knowing a draw would be enough for Australia to clinch the series. Nathan Lyon was 1 not out with Josh Hazlewood yet to score at the declaration. The Melbourne weather added to India's difficulties, with rain delaying the start by almost 45 minutes, then occasional showers through the morning reducing the day's play. Harris backed up his first-innings 74 with an assured 21 Tuesday before being caught behind off Mohammed Shami (2-92 ). India needs to win the third test to stay alive in the four-match series. Australia can reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy with a win or draw in Melbourne after a 48-run win in the first test and a four-wicket victory last week in the second test at Brisbane. No team since 1974 has scored more than 234 runs batting fourth on the fifth day of a test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.