India have it all to do on the final day of the third Test, as they try to avoid defeat in Sydney. The visitors ended the day with eight wickets in hand after Australia batted them out of the game in the first two sessions, setting a massive target of 407.
For Australia, the day was as close to perfect as it could get. The hosts saw out the morning session, accelerated in the second and made inroads into India’s batting in the final one. With Ravindra Jadeja all but out and Rishabh Pant’s fitness a concern as well, the Aussies would be confident about their chances going into Day 5.
Brief scores: India 98/2 (Rohit Sharma 52, Shubman Gill 31; Josh Hazlewood 1/11, Pat Cummins 1/25) and 244 all out trail Australia 338 all out and 312/6 d (Cameron Green 84, Steve Smith 81; Navdeep Saini 2/54, Ravichandran Ashwin 2/95) by 309 runs
The visitors will rue the fact that both openers thew away their wicket after seeing out the new ball. Fans would be particularly annoyed at Rohit Sharma, who got caught in the deep after reaching his half-century.
While the signs looked ominous after Australia declared at tea, India showed great resolve to see out the final session. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill started confidently and played their shots. With a bit of luck going their way, the openers notched up a 50-run partnership for a second innings in a row.
DRS was in heavy use in the final session as well, with India favouring more from it. Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara got decisions overturned in their favour, while Australia lost a review while contesting a caught behind for Gill.
Shubman Gill was the first India wicket to fall, edging a Josh Hazlewood delivery to Tim Paine. But with Rohit going strong, it looked like India would see out the day with their stand-in vice-captain and Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease.
Pujara was his usual defensive self, while Rohit looked at home, mixing aggression with discipline. However, the opener was guilty of throwing his wicket away, as his attempted pull off Cummins was gobbled up by Starc in the deep with about four overs left in the day.
Ajinkya Rahane joined Pujara to see out the final few overs, and the side's two senior batsmen will take to the field tomorrow as they attempt to script a historic India victory.
Australia outclassed India with their batting effort on day 4
Earlier in the day, Australia batted for two full sessions before declaring. The first session was an evenly matched affair after a cautious start from the hosts.
Bumrah could have had Labuschagne on just the second ball of the day, but Hanuma Vihari dropped a sitter and the chance went begging. Navdeep Saini showed his class as he dismissed Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade in quick succession.
Australia had answers for both Ashwin and the leg side trap which has proven to be their Achilles heel this series. The batsman used their feet to unsettle Ashwin, and kept the scoreboard ticking regularly.
While the hosts already had a lead of over 250 at lunch, it was in the afternoon session where they finally picked up the pace. Steve Smith started the acceleration, but his efforts were undone by a nicely flighted delivery from Ashwin. It was the third time that the India off-spinner dismissed Smith this series.
Jasprit Bumrah had no option but to cover his face in disappointment after Rohit Sharma became the latest fielder to drop a catch off his bowling. Tim Paine got going after getting the lifeline while Cameron Green made his way to a maiden Test fifty.
The all-rounder struck a couple of huge sixes as he accelerated in his search for a century. His quest came to a brief halt after India’s Mohammed Siraj brought another instance of racial abuse to notice.
The match officials and stadium security intervened, and six spectators were evicted from the stadium. Play resumed and Green continued his assault, but Bumrah finally got his wicket after the Australian nicked one to the keeper. The wicket also brought Australia’s declaration as the teams went into tea.
What to expect from day 5?
Australia will go intoday 5 confident about their chances. With more than 90 overs at their disposal, Pat Cummins and Co. will look to secure the win that will give them a 2-1 lead in the series.
As for India, they will now have to take the game session by session. Shut up shop too early to play for a draw, and the visitors run the risk of getting choked by Australia. Attack too much in the quest of a win, and put the chances of saving the Test in jeopardy. Which option will India choose? Only time will tell.Published 10 Jan 2021, 13:15 IST